What Do They Look Like?
Adult moths are speckled, greyish-brown in colour, with a distinctive bronze band on the bottom third of their wings Adults are about the size of a housefly, 2.5 centimetres long Caterpillars are pinkish-white with brown heads, 1.5 centimetres long.
Where Do I Find Them?
Caterpillars are found near the core of fruits such as apples, crabapples and pears. Adult moths are usually found on the surface of fruit and leaves.
Codling Moth Life Cycle
- Adult females lay eggs on the surface of fruit or on leaves when trees are in bloom (usually May-June)
- Caterpillars emerge one to three weeks later, and immediately tunnel into fruit where they feed and develop
- After feeding on the fruit, they emerge and crawl down the tree trunk to spin cocoons, emerging as adult moths two to three weeks later
- There are two to three generations a year
- Some caterpillars overwinter in the cocoon stage and emerge when trees bloom (Reprinted with permission from City Green)
What Does the Damage Look Like?
Caterpillars tunnel holes in fruit such as apples, crabapples, pears, peaches and plums. They make a small entry hole near the bottom of the fruit and leave behind crumbly brown droppings called frass.
Are Codling Moths Really A Problem?
Codling moths can cause significant fruit loss. Damaged fruit cannot be stored but the undamaged parts can be eaten.
What Can I Do?
Wrap corrugated cardboard bands or burlap sections (10 to 20 centimetres wide) around the base of tree trunks, starting in mid-July, to intercept the first generation of caterpillars as they hatch. Check cardboard or burlap every day and destroy any caterpillars or cocoons found; this will reduce the next generation of moths. Do this from May to October. Pick up any infested fruit and dispose in household garbage.
How Can I Prevent an Infestation Next Year?
- In early spring (April-May), check fruit trees and scrape loose bark to remove any overwintering cocoons
- Check developing fruit for entry holes from the time the first petals fall
- Pick up all dropped fruit and dispose in household garbage to prevent caterpillars from leaving and overwintering in the soil
- Set up a winter bird feeder to attract birds to your yard, as they will eat overwintering cocoons
Tips For A Healthy Garden
- Enrich the soil once or twice a year with compost or other organic fertilizers.
- Choose plants adapted to the conditions of sun or shade, moisture and soil acidity. If necessary, correct the drainage and acidity to suit the plants.
- Plant native plants, which are adapted to the local climate. Most are easy to care for and have few pest problems.
- Before buying plants, make sure they are healthy and free of diseases and insect pests.
- Water deeply, but infrequently, to encourage deep rooting.
- Cover the soil between plants and under shrubs with organic mulches. This insulates the soil, keeps in moisture and suppresses weeds.
- Protect and attract native beneficial insect, birds and other animals