Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Making Codling Moth Traps

Codling moths are an apple grower's enemy. UrbanFarmOnline.com describes the codling moth like this:

"The codling moth is 'the worm apple.' Codling moth is widespread and very damaging, and besides apples also attacks pears and English walnuts. The adult moth is about 1/2-inch long, mottled gray with distinguishing copper-colored bands along the bottom edges of the wings. The larva is white to light pink with a dark brown head and reaches about 1/2-inch long by end of larval stage. A Codling moth overwinters in a cocoon under debris or bark scales, or in the soil. There can be up to four generations of codling moth per year depending on temperatures. As with all insects, the pace of codling-moth development is extremely temperature sensitive.

Disc-shaped codling moth eggs are laid singly on fruit, nuts, leaves and twigs in the spring. The larva hatch and burrow into the fruit to feed, tunneling around and eventually dropping out to pupate. The holes left by the codling moth are covered with brown frass (droppings) and are sometimes hidden on the blossom end of the fruit."

In previous years, we've gone to the local nursery to pick up a half dozen or so pheromone traps to hang in the trees at bud break. They work pretty well. But, they only trap the male moths. It's the females that do the most damage. So this year, instead of purchasing commercially made traps for $9-15 each, we made them using this simple recipe that we found on UrbanFarmOnline.com.
  • Materials: 
    • (3) 1-gallon plastic milk jug. (We have just three apple trees right now.)
    • Bailing twine reserved the hay bales
  • Ingredients per each one-gallon jug:
    • add 1 cup of cider vinegar, 
    • 1/3 cup dark molasses, 
    • 1/8 teaspoon ammonia and enough water to make 1 1/2 quarts.

      Cap each jug and cut a 2-inch diameter hole. Hang one to three jug traps per tree. Check the traps periodically for effectiveness.
For whatever reason, we can't find any molasses around here. So, we substituted brown sugar because it has molasses in it. We'll find out soon enough whether or not it has enough molasses to attract those pesky moths.

We estimate the cost to make these traps to be about $2 each. That's whole lot better than $9 - $15 each. Let's pray they work!

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