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Past Articles Library | Organic Pest Control | Codling Moth



Adults are gray-brown moths with wingspans of 3/4 inches long. Their wings have a fine coppery brown, wavy pattern, and the forewings are tipped with dark brown. Larvae are pinkish white with brown heads up to 3/4 inches long. Eggs are white disks. Codling moth is prevalent throughout North America.



Larvae overwinter in thick cocoons under bark or nearby litter. They pupate in the spring, and adults emerge when apple trees flower. Females lay eggs on foliage and fruit, usually on the upper surface of leaves. Eggs hatch in 1-3 weeks, and larvae chew their way into the fruit core, usually from the blossom end. They feed for 3-5 weeks, then crawl down the tree to pupate. Codling moth can have 2-3 generations per year, 5-8 weeks apart.



Apples, crab apples, pear and occasionally other fruit. In many areas they can be the most damaging pest in apple and pear orchards.



The larvae ruin the fruit by tunneling to the core. An infested apple has a hole (usually near the blossom end) filled with dark masses of castings. Damage may not be obvious until you cut the fruit open.




Home Remedy:

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses
  • 1/8 tsp ammonia
  • 4 2/3 cup water
Cut a 2 to 3 inch (5.1-7.6 cm) hole into the top of an empty 1 gallon milk jug. Place 3 inches (7.6 cm) of the solution in the bottom of the jug. Hang several of these in the tree. This works well for apples pears and others.

Traditional Remedy:

In the late winter, scrape bark to remove cocoons; apply dormant oil sprays. Use sticky tree bands or bands of corrugated cardboard to trap larvae leaving the tree to pupate. Check for larvae and destroy daily. Diligent trapping of the first generation will considerably reduce second the generation. In large orchards, use pheromone traps to determine the main flight periods of moths; then time sprays to coincide with egg hatch or release Trichogramma parasitic wasps to attack eggs. You can also use pheromone twist-tie dispensers throughout the trees to confuse males and prevent mating. If used together with the tree bands, control can be achieved.


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