I am so excited for apple season! I love fall and nothing signals the start of fall to me than the beginning of apple season!
I love making applesauce, apple cake, apple crisp, apple cider, apple oatmeal…
I get some apples from trees in our backyard and some apples from trees on the nearby school grounds. None of the apples are sprayed with any pesticides, of course, so naturally, there are always some bug bites and blemishes in the apples, but this year it seems particularly bad. Nearly every single apple I’ve picked so far has this:
This is codling moth damage. Codling moths are gray moths, the color of tree bark, and about one inch in size. They emerge from cocoons on the tree in the spring and lay eggs on the leaves and immature fruit. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the fruit. After maturing, they drop out of the fruit onto the ground and find a pupation site to form a cocoon and continue the lifecycle.
Codling moths are super common and difficult to irradiate. However, there are some strategies I’ve read about that we could try to reduce the amount of damage. First of all, thinning fruit (which we should do anyway for the health of the tree, but which I never do because it hurts to throw away potentially good fruit!) can supposedly provide “less optimal laying sites.” You should also check the apples periodically throughout the season and get rid of any fruit that has codling moth holes in order to destroy the larvae and prevent further perpetuation of the lifecycle (don’t put them in your home compost).
Pheromone traps can be used to trap males, thus preventing fertilization of female eggs (the pheromone traps mimic the female scent and contain a sticky substance that traps the males). I’ve also read that “tree banding” (wrapping cardboard around the trunk of a smooth-barked tree can help prevent moths from finding pupation sites) can help. Lastly, putting bags around each individual apple early in the season can prevent damage.
Will I actually do any of these things next year? Maybe. I’m curious to try the pheromone traps. If you have tried any anti-moth strategies and had success, let me know.