Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Build a codling moth trap

(l) after one week; (r) after one minute. Not the same.
Despite the overblown claims that vinegar is just as good as Round-Up at killing weeds, there is one thing that vinegar is good at killing: codling moths.

Codling moths are nasty.  If you find a 'worm' or a 'worm hole' in an apple, it's probably neither.  Odds are it's the result of a codling moth laying eggs on your trees, which eggs then hatch larva that burrow into your fruit (leaving a small hole), eat for three weeks, then burrow out (leaving a large hole).  The fattened larva then crawl to the ground or hide under the tree's bark, emerging the next spring as moths. These moths then lay eggs, beginning the cycle again.

Other than blasting your tree with alar or other things you really don't want to eat any more than worms, there are a couple of approaches that hold promise for controlling your codling moths.

The first is to create a concoction of one cup vinegar, one cup sugar, and a bit of banana peel. Put it in a milk jug, fill the jug with water, then hang the whole shebang from a high branch of your apple tree.  Unlike the worthless,* vinegar-based Weed-Be-Gone, this recipe showed promise immediately: the jug on the left is not simply discolored for the benefit of those with flash photography, it's full of dead moths, flies, and mosquitoes.

The second, which we shall be trying this fall, is to catch the codling moths caterpillars as they descend the tree by wrapping a six-inch-wide strip of cardboard about the trunk in August. You wrap the cardboard flat side in with the holes facing up-and-down, and the larva, upon encountering it, decide that this corrugated paradise is a convenient place to spend the winter.  One chilly December morning, you provide your guests some much-needed warmth by tossing all the cardboard into a pile and setting it on fire.

The first part of the strategy seems to work fine: after barely a week, I have lots of dead moths.**  The second? Well, we'll see how well the second does. I have this brush pile that will be just about ready to burn once the snow starts falling...

* ok, so it's not entirely worthless.  After 5 days, my weeds have a few leaves that have turned brown around the edges. 
** I have also agreed to pay TK and Molly a nickel for each moth they kill with a badminton racket.  That's not as successful.  Thus far I have paid out about 45 cents and need two new badminton rackets.


  1. If you have any ideas for obliterating wild bamboo, I'm all ears.
    The previous owners of this property had the cute idea of removing a large section of fence that separates the back yard from thistle wilderness behind it, where all kinds of things live. They replaced the fence with a few shoots of bamboo that I now cannot get rid of, and that has now become the premier staging ground for raccoons, skunks, and other assorted of God's creatures to plan their assaults on my property every single night.
    When I moved in, I had cut it all down, doused the ground with a "recommended" herbicide, and replaced the fence.
    The following summer, the bamboo gave both my new fence and by extension myself the finger, and it's been a losing battle ever since.
    I've even tried kerosene and fire to no avail, and short of roto-tilling the entire section, I'm tapped.
    Any ideas?

  2. If you're having bamboo problems I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a switch ain't one.

  3. but a switch ain't one

    Worth the price of admission, right there.