A stitch in time…
Apple (and sometimes pear) trees look lovely in blossom right now, but if you would like to enjoy juicy fruit without moth holes and gooey grub muck later on, then a little attention to the tree now is a top idea.
🚧 Moth Warrior, NOT Moth Expert
First things first though, I’m no moth expert. I observe, research, ask locals, check government pest lists, and share our own experiences. We hope these mothy stories are interesting, but they are not at all technical advice. Just sayin’. x
🧨 Invisible to insideous
Codling moth is found all over, and is here to stay, so we can only manage and intervene to interrupt their breeding cycle. If your apple trees are just new, they may not have found you yet, but they will.
Spring has sprung and it seems nothing could possibly go wrong with the pretty apple blossoms poking through. The problem is invisible at this point. As blossoms are pollinated and tiny apple fruitlets form, codling pests emerge from soil and lay eggs somewhere convenient to be fertilised, and that is on or near your apples. They travel up the trunk into the canopy and lay eggies on leaves and fruitlets, which are fertilised by wandering lad-moths, then hatching and burrowing into the fruit to eat and grow before exiting again, leaving its grubby rotting mess behind. Ew.
[image & video source: ABC Gardening Australia]
No point reinventing the wheel, so here is a link to Tino Carnevale’s story on it. In order, things fruit growers usually find success with are:
– making it harder for the pests to get from the soil into the canopy with layered mulching.
– providing a ‘trap’ low down on the trunk to fool moths into laying eggs down too low where there is no food.
– wiping sticky goop low down on the trunk to trap the grubs as they make their way down into the soil again (this is a followup method if you were too late with prevention).
– getting rid of wandering lad-moths by luring them to a sticky trap hanging in the tree (we haven’t had to resort to this yet so don’t have experience with it). If you have an existing mature tree with a really bad moth issue, you may need to try ALL these methods for a few years to break the back of the problem.
🧹 Clean up.
In late spring early summer when you are thinning fruit, don’t leave it on the ground, as it is a short trip for grubs to move to or from fruit to soil.
In Autumn, around harvest, pick up fallen fruit and remove any with moth holes and destroy them (we toss them into the firepit) – NOT COMPOST as they’ll live quite happily in there.
📖 JOURNAL IT
Follow up with an entry in the garden journal to be sure to keep a look out again this time next year. Remember that if you don’t keep a perpetual journal, all your experience this year may be for naught. Reinventing the wheel each year is a pain.
Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿