Codling Moth

The Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella), is a member of the Lepidopteran family Tortricidae. They are known as an agricultural pest, their larva being the common apple worm. It is originally native to Europe but was introduced to North America, where it has become one of the regular pests of apple orchards. Now it is found nearly worldwide. It also is a pest against pears, walnuts, and other tree fruits.

The codling moth is grayish with light gray and copper stripes on its wings, and has an average wingspan of 0.66 inches. The females lay eggs on fruit or leaves and the black-headed yellow larvae attack the fruit immediately upon hatching. Each larva burrows into the fruit, eats for around three weeks then leaves the fruit to overwinter and pupate elsewhere. Most nourishment is obtained by feeding on the proteinacous seeds.

Codling moth infestations are often managed with pesticides. Successful synthesis of codlemone, the codling moth female sex pheromone blend, has led to behaviorally based monitoring and management. Pheromone traps are used to capture male moths for monitoring and setting biofix, which is the time of first flight for codling moth. Mating disruption can be used to effectively manage codling moth populations in many cases. Mating disruption involves the use of a pheromone impregnated release device, typically made of plastic or rubber. Dispensers are distributed throughout the orchard and emit female pheromone at a high, relatively constant rate.

Recent trials of non-toxic kaolin clay-based sprays indicate that an effective alternative means of codling moth suppression may be on the horizon. Codling moth and other pests find leaves and fruit covered in kaolin clay unfit for laying eggs. Tiny particles of the clay tend to attach to their bodies, disturbing and repelling them. In addition, trees covered in kaolin clay can make them less recognizable as habitat to codling moths. Full coverage of trees is necessary in order to achieve effective suppression. If used only at the beginning of the fruit growing season, kaolin clay often comes off by itself due to wind and rain attrition, leaving fruit clean at harvest time.