Beware the moth which worms its way into applesBy James Ashford
May 16, 2008
The warmer days and nights will mean that the insect population will start to explode in our gardens over the next few weeks.
Most of them do us no harm at all and some, like the bees, are essential for the pollination of fruit and flowers.
One of the more unwelcome visitors who makes an appearance in the next couple of months is the codling moth.
This is a rather drab and unremarkable creature whose existence wouldn’t trouble us a jot except that it has the habit of laying its eggs on the leaves of apple trees.
The eggs hatch into small pinkish-white worms which burrow down undetected into the growing apples through their stalks. Once inside they feast away on the flesh of the fruit until discovered by the unfortunate person who eats the apple.
People often say that the only thing worse than finding one of these worms inside your apple is finding half a worm.
Organic growers don’t use chemical pesticides and so we must find other ways of dealing with the codling moth problem.
At this time of year you can keep their numbers in check by using pheromone traps.
These come in kit form and are available at most garden centres or from the Organic Gardening Catalogue.
The traps themselves are triangular plastic tunnels rather like a giant Toblerone box but open at both ends. On the floor of the box you place a sheet of card covered with sticky glue and in the middle of the card you place the pheromone lure.
The traps are hung around head height near your apple trees where the lure gives out the scent of the female moth in a state of excitement.
The hapless gentleman moths are inexorably drawn by this scent inside the triangular box where they get stuck to the gluey card and die.
Reducing the population of male moths means that fewer eggs are laid and, hopefully, rather fewer worms in your apples.