Organic Gardens/Fruit Trees
Hi I had a question about organically controlling orchard pests. We have about 50-55 apple trees and 1 pear tree. We have had a real problem with Codling moths. I would prefer not to use chemicals on our trees. I've seen the Codling moth traps, but I'm not sure if those would be really helpful with a problem this big. I'm thinking maybe several different methods combined? What else should I try? Thanks so much!
It is SO important to grow organic Apples and Pears. Cydia pomonella makes that difficult. The problem, as with all organic pest controls, is that they are imperfect -- requiring compromise that is a hard sell at retail.
But you can try.
For starters, Wikihow posts a battery of ballistic weapons that are earth friendly and are guaranteed not to be carcinogenic:
But science does not stop there. We know much more about this pest than we knew 10 years ago. Integrated Pest Management methods improve with age. University of California describes the current combat strategies in West Coast orchards:
The Codling Moth is double trouble for apples and pears: "stings", caused by larvae that pierce the fruit just before they die, and "deep entries" caused by larvae that drill deep into the fruit to reach the seed cavity.
UC Davis reviews the most important techniques currently available. They encourage interference with the mating habits as the "preferred" technique for Codling Moth control.
But this is not enough, they warn -- "especially during the first few years."
IPM designates the parasitic wasp Trichogramma platneri, sold for protection of Western Apple, Pear, and Walnut growers at Buglogical:
Buglogical describes T. platneri's technique: "Females lay one or more eggs in the egg of a host insect. The larvae pupate inside the host egg, and adult wasps emerge seven to ten days after the egg is laid. Over fifty wasps can emerge from one egg. In warm weather many generations can be produced. Hosts include corn, cotton, cabbage, peas, tomatoes, soybeans, rice, citrus, ornamental plants, pecans, and forests."
But UC Davis notes this technique is imperfect, with "limited effectiveness and is too expensive for practical use." They recommend small orchards practice hand removal of infested fruit and prompt removal of dropped fruit. Monitoring populations in traps will tell you if you're winning or losing the war.
The relatively new Codling Moth granulovirus, sold commercially as "Cyd-X", is sold at Grow Organic's website:
But at $400 a bottle, it may prove prohibitively costly. Also, sale is prohibited in about 30 states.
USDA scientists D. Michael Glenn and Gary Puterka examined the use of engineered Kaolin Clay particles to control certain orchard pests. The technique was published here:
Glenn and Puterka point out in their paper that misuse of dust may actually increase populations of Codling Moths and other pests. In 1999, Kaolin Clay spray became available as "Surround crop protectant" in the Pacific Northwest to control Pear Psylla.
There are at least a dozen techniques to accomplish organically the control of Codling Moths. Read the entire University of California article to build the right arsenal for your orchard.