Worms in apples - what to do against codling apples on apple tree?

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codling moth

The pest hibernates as a caterpillar, spun into its cocoon, notably in the bark of the apple tree. For this reason, especially older trees are endangered, because here the bark looser sits and the caterpillar finds more shelter. Around mid-April, the caterpillar pupates - the dolls are about eight to ten millimeters long and dark brown colored - and then from the beginning to the middle of May as a ready, fertile butterfly on the search for a suitable partner to make. The animals are active at temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius, but only fly at dusk. During the day, they are well camouflaged in the treetop. After mating, each female lays up to 100 eggs, which are individually positioned near the fruit.
The caterpillars hatch after about eight to ten days and immediately go in search of the food crops. The maggots stay in each apple for three to four weeks, during which they go through five stages of development. After leaving the fruit, most of the caterpillars immediately go into hibernation by weaving themselves into a white web at the root base or some other sheltered spot. Another part of the caterpillars pupates immediately. These second generation codling moths lay their eggs from the beginning of August.


The life cycle of the codling moth is very much dependent on the temperature: Only from about 10° C can viable caterpillars develop from the eggs laid. Therefore, the annual infestation pressure depends not only on the amount of maggots overwintering in the bark or the like, but also on the weather in the spring in question. However, it is very important for an effective fight to find the right time, for example for copulation or caterpillar migration - because infestation can only be prevented before the maggots have reached the apples. Then you can carefully collect and dispose of the affected fruit (even those that are already on the ground!). So you prevent at least the second generation or the next generation next year.
Tip: During the winter months, you should scan both the trunk and the branches as well as the immediate environment of the tree for white spiders and remove them immediately.

How to fight the codler effectively

Since the pest is widespread and the pressure of infection in many gardens is therefore quite high, the gardener has plenty to do in terms of prevention and control. Especially important are the frequent control of the trees and the concomitant collection of (pupated) caterpillars. Older apple trees with a very barky bark can also be handled carefully with a brush to actually find any hidden maggot. In winter, the trees can also be shaken vigorously, whereby many a future codling moth also falls to the ground and can be collected.

Preventive measures

Who has an apple tree in the garden, must be very attentive. A heavy infestation is difficult to combat, so it is better to instead to prevent and not even let it come so far.
Make your garden attractive for beneficials
This includes, for example, making the garden appealing to potential beneficial organisms - for example, by strategically positioning an insect hotel and hanging nesting boxes for birds. The winter bird feeding also makes Meisen and Co. feel at home with you. The caterpillars of the codling moth are on the menu both in songbirds (especially tits) and earwigs (which are sometimes referred to as ear wrasse). By the way, such a close-to-nature and pet-friendly garden has the advantage that the beneficial insects that live there do not just kill the codlers - birds, hedgehogs and useful insects also find lots of other pests extremely tasty.
Confuse the males by using pheromones
In commercial fruit-growing, farmers spray so-called pheromones over their plantations. These are sex attractants, which are to confuse the males of the codling moth. These are so irritated by the immense cloud of cloud over the apple orchard, that they do not find the way to their females - and thus no mating and no oviposition take place. However, this method is not suitable for private, hobby-like orchards, as the area to be mopped should be at least 5000 square meters. However, you can use the principle for a pheromone trap: it is a sticky trap that attracts males through the sexual attractants of codling worms - and finally captures the animals through a glazed surface. Such a case is used above all to limit the fertilization period of the codling moth and thus the approximate slippage of the caterpillars.The traps should be hung at the latest from the beginning of May directly into the tree, preferably at about head height.

Fight codling moth

Apple - Malus with glue ring

Although the aforementioned preventive measures can significantly reduce the pressure of attack, they can not completely prevent it. For this reason, we present here some proven measures for the acute control of the codling moth.
No chemical sprays in private gardens
In the commercial fruit growing farmers have some chemical tips available, which must, however, be applied exactly when the newly hatched caterpillars make their way to the apples. The Crop Protection Database of the federal government publishes regularly which means are currently permitted - some also for private use in the home garden. Here, however, such chemical bombs are not very effective and therefore should not be used. Especially since these funds have serious disadvantages, for example, not only the codling moth but also other beneficial insects and possibly fight birds.
Organic sprays as an alternative
On the other hand, biological sprays have proven useful for centuries and you can easily mix them by yourself. Jauchen from wormwood or tansy leaves have proven to be effective. All you have to do is gather around half a kilogram of wormwood leaves or rainforest parts, crush them roughly and pour 10 liters of rainwater (alternatively: stale tap water) over them. The mixture remains in a dark and warm place for 10 to 14 days and is stirred thoroughly each day. Against the strong smell it helps to mix some stone powder. With this manure you spray your apple trees in early summer - adjust the right time, when the caterpillars hatch and the fruits have not been drilled.
Mechanical methods
From about the end of June, resourceful gardeners wrap the trunks of their apple trees with about 20 centimeters wide corrugated cardboard strips. The caterpillars crawling straight out of the apples are hiding in this strip instead of in the bark for wintering. From the end of July / beginning of August you can remove and dispose of the cardboard together with the dolls. In order to catch the second generation, you should repeat the procedure from late August / early September. If your apple trees are tied to a support pole, they should also be included. More effective are so-called caterpillar glue rings, which catch the caterpillars already on their way to the fruits. To do this, attach several of these rings overlapping and close to the trunk. As soon as the caterpillars leave in spring, they remain stuck in the glue rings and can not reach their destination. If possible, choose green glue rings to avoid accidentally catching useful insects.
Granulosis virus and baculovirus preparations
Granuloses and baculoviruses have been proven biological insecticides for decades, only destroying insects and their larvae. Baculoviruses, for example, infest about 600 different insects, including the caterpillars of the codling moth. As a rule, these agents are not harmful to bees. In terms of granulosis viruses, the product Granupom has been highlighted. Always wear protective clothing (safety goggles, rubber boots, gloves) when spraying with this product and always follow the manufacturer's dosage instructions. Usually a single application of the funds is not enough, instead you should repeat the spraying of the trees at intervals of several days at least twice.
The codling moth (Cydia pomonella) not only attacks apples, but also other pome fruits such as pears, plums, quinces, walnuts or peaches.
The codling moth is a small, unobtrusively colored butterfly. This puts its eggs preferably in apple trees, although other pome fruit trees may be affected. From the eggs, tiny caterpillars hatch that immediately make their way to their forage, the apples, and pierce them. The typical damage is a drilled apple, through whose interior narrow feeding passages run to the housing. These are also filled with crumbly, black feces. Infested apples usually do not ripen, but fall prematurely from the tree - except, it is a dreaded late infestation, in which the second generation of caterpillars already attacks ripe apples. A variety of mechanical control methods help against the codling moth, and some biological sprays can also be used very well in the home garden.

Video Board: Codling moth -- How to keep the worms away organically.

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