Moth Invaders?
The Rapture of the Bees?

Moth Pheromone Lures

I just read the comment seeking information on moth pheromone lures to control light brown apple moths in home orchards (see previous post, with comment). I haven't checked to see if the right lures are available in California, though Peaceful Valley would be a good place to look. However, it has been my understanding that these lures work best in a larger planting. In just a few trees, the lures will confuse a few male moths, leaving nearby females unfertilized, but females ready to lay eggs are likely to just fly in from the next yard. In larger orchards, they even recommend putting the lures not only throughout the orchard, but also outside the margins of the orchard all around, so that nearby moths won't be fertilized.

The CDFA is using traps to monitor for the moths, I think that have some pheromone in them and catch the moths on a sticky surface. This is a good idea of you want to know if they are around, and IF you can identify what you have caught. In Australia, grape growers use a homemade trap to catch insects and see what they have. They use (cheap) port wine, in a 10% solution, in a container that is about 6 inches wide and 8 inches deep. They put a wire mesh with half-inch holes in it over the container to keep the birds out. Then they inspect it at least twice a week, so that freshly caught moths may still be floating, so easier to count and identify. Again, both of these kinds of traps are for monitoring, rather than control, but we are in the monitoring phase right now, for the most part. And both traps depend on your being able to recognize the insect--or take it to a County Agricultural Commissioner who can.

What you are more likely to see than adults is the yellow green caterpillar with a brown head, and some webbing around young leaves, and maybe involving the young fruits. They say the caterpillars are more common low on the tree, which is good, since that is where you are most likely to be looking. If think you see one, you can bag or bottle it up, with some of the plant, and consult your local ag commissioner.

As I say, very few of these moths are being spotted so far, so noticing them is probably more important than combating them. You are far likelier to have damage from ordinary pests, such as codling moth, than this still quite rare moth.

If you want to do something to decrease the likelihood of damage to backyard trees, thin your fruit properly, since the critter is more damaging when it is able to web several fruits together, and pick up fallen fruit.


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