- Chat Leftovers: An apple tale that’s full of holes
- “Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.”
- Codling Moth- Holes in Apples
- Like Organic? Then You Gotta Love Eating Worms
- Apple Maggot Prevention: Apple Maggot Signs And Control
- Apple Maggot Signs
- Apple Maggot Prevention and Treatment
- How to Trap the Apple Maggot
- Home Remedies to Catch Apple Maggots
- Daily Newsletter
- A letter leads the way
- Formula No. 1
- Formula No. 2
- Formula No. 3
- Hot pepper oil concentrate
- Hot pepper spray – prep and application
- On another note
- Lime juice is an organic pesticide
- SOUND GARDENER: The time is nigh to trap apple maggots
Chat Leftovers: An apple tale that’s full of holes
Good morning! Open up today’s Food, and here’s some of what you’ll find:
■ Shulie Madnick takes a look at kreplach — “Jewish tortellini” — and other foods that can put a global spin on the traditional break-fast buffet that ends Yom Kippur.
■ The Mall vendors who’ve been hawking hot dogs, T-shirts and trinkets for years are fearful of what will happen after the District begins allowing food trucks to park in their territory; Tim Carman explains.
■ Brandon Fox finds a success story in Olli Salumeria, a Virginia company that has found eager fans for its Italian sausage made with American pigs.
■ The glories of an unappreciated flavor are explored in “Bitter,” a book by Jennifer McLagan, reviewed by Bonnie S. Benwick.
We’re fortunate to have McLagan on hand today for the weekly Free Range chat. By now, I hope you know that the best possible way to spend the hour between noon and 1 is to be hanging out with the Food folks. The live give-and-take is always edifying, and then there’s the added benefit of book give-aways for those who ask our favorite questions.
Come one, come all. But first, a warm-up question: this leftover from last week’s chat:
I was told that an apple with a worm hole in it — or even a worm — is the best one to eat, because worms choose the sweetest fruit. Do you have any idea whether that’s true, and maybe a way to get a child to eat damaged fruit?
I’ve heard the same thing. But I suspect it isn’t true. Here’s some background.
The two most common pests that eat their way through apples are the larvae of the codling moth and the apple maggot. You can tell which one has damaged your apple: The moth’s larva leaves large brown holes on the outside of the fruit and makes large tunnels inside; the apple maggot larva creates smaller exterior pits and blemishes, and its tunnels are very thin. If you encounter one of these creatures inside an apple, they’re simple to tell apart. The moth larva looks like a caterpillar, with a distinct head, and is easy to see. The maggot is small, pale and hard to spot because it has no distinct head and is about the same color as the apple flesh.
Now for why I don’t think the worm story is true. First, the larvae probably don’t “choose” their host fruit. The adult insect lays eggs on or near the fruit, and right after the larvae hatch, they hightail it toward the closest apple, so they can chew their way inside and be safe from predators.
So, then, maybe it’s the adults that choose the sweetest apple as a prime spot for their future offspring? Not likely, because when the eggs are laid, the apples aren’t ripe; in fact, some have barely started to form into fruit. They haven’t developed their full sugary potential, so how could an insect predict which ones will be sweet? (Also, not all kinds of apples are sweet, but all kinds of apples get infested by larvae.)
Now, I’m not a scientist and don’t play one on TV, so this information is not 100 percent guaranteed. But if you put your thinking cap on and consider the life cycle of these insects, you’ll come to the conclusion that this concept of worms with discriminating tastes just has to be full of holes.
So unless you don’t mind fibbing to your kids, that bit of lore just won’t work as a way to get them to eat whole blemished fruit. And, frankly, I don’t blame them. Who wants to bite into an apple and see a worm? (Or, worse, half of a worm?) Your best option is to slice the apples up, cut out the worm tunnels (every bit of them, because they contain worm droppings, ick) and feed the children those; they are fine to eat. Sweeten the deal with honey drizzled over, or yogurt or a sweet salad dressing they can dip the slices into. Or, gosh, caramel sauce: Check out our recipe for Honey-Caramel Apple Wedges, a delicious kid-friendly treat that’s good not only for Rosh Hashanah but for all year-round.
When an apple contains a worm, is it still edible? Source: clip2art.com & worldartsme.com. Montage: laidbackgardener.com
Question: This has been a bad year for apple worms and most of my apples are infested. Can I still use them for juice and apple sauce?
Answer: Sure! Humans have been eating wormy apples for thousands of years and, as the joke goes, a worm just adds a little extra protein.
(The other joke is: What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? The answer? Finding half a worm in your apple! )
In fact, it wasn’t really until pesticides were introduced back in the 19th century (arsenic, believe it or not!) and it became possible to produce apples without worms that we humans started to become squeamish about the subject. When you buy commercially produced apple juice and apple sauce, I can guarantee that there is some insect protein in it.
I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten a few of these over my lifetime … but so what? Source: simpleunhookedliving.wordpress.com
As a kid, I used to harvest apples from an abandoned orchard and eat the fruits, trying to eat around the worms (actually, not true worms, but the larva of the codling moth, Cydia pomonella). I probably swallowed a few without realizing it and now find the idea gross, but that’s a cultural thing. They are neither harmful to humans (nor animals) nor do they carry any harmful parasites. Now, worms digging into the apple will cause some rot and that can produce an off flavor, but even the bacterial and fungal species that cause rot in apples are not a hazard for humans.
What you should probably not do, though, is harvest fallen fruits that have been lying on the ground for a while. They could pick up harmful bacteria from the soil. People have been made sick, for example, by drinking unpasteurized apple juice made from fallen apples that came into contact with deer scat containing E. coli bacteria.
If you do harvest fallen apples, therefore, cook them thoroughly.
“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.”
Codling Moth- Holes in Apples
A moth that damages Apples, Walnuts, Pears and other fruits around the world. The larval (worm) phase of its life burrows into the fruit causing extensive damage and rendering the affected fruit inedible.
Usually an entrance hole can be seen on the outer layer of the fruit and often parts of the fruit will become sunken and rotten. Split the fruit open to see the tunneling and sometimes catch the larvae still inside.
Ward Upham, Kansas State University, Bugwood.org; Codling moth damage in apple fruitWhitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org; Codling moth in appleWhitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org; Codling moth
Codling moth overwinters as larvae inside a cocoon that is attached to bark. They pupate and emerge as adults in the spring. After they mate, females lay eggs on leaves which hatch into larvae that begin to feed on the leaves before burrowing into fruit. After they feed for 3-4 weeks, they move from the fruit to the tree to spin their cocoons. In Colorado, about 2/3 of these moths emerge to produce a second generation, whereas, the remainder go dormant and overwinter for the following season.
Damage is often extensive and will render the entire fruit crop worthless for eating. If fruit is not desired, treatment is not necessary as the pest does not affect tree health. Fruit suppression is also an option, but efficacy varies and results are inconsistent.
A pesticide spray in the spring will reduce or totally eradicate infestations of this moth.
Like Organic? Then You Gotta Love Eating Worms
There is a long standing association between worms and apples, though in modern culture today we never see worms in our produce. It probably had to do with the days when fruit was grown with no pesticides and you never knew when you bit into an apple if there would be a worm or not.
Most food grown with the help of pesticides are completely uninhabitable to insects. They won’t even go near it or they will drop dead. We have all grown up with perfectly unblemished fruits and vegetables thanks to the big chemical companies. Marketing campaigns between big farmers and these chemical companies have over time led people to expect perfect-looking produce. To make matters worse, farmers and grocery stores sort fruit and vegetables and toss out anything that doesn’t look pristine.
I used to know someone who worked at a fancy natural food store here in San Francisco and was the produce manager. He told me they would open up crates of apples, oranges, lettuce and only display those that looked perfect. Anything with a mark or blemish was taken home by the employees or put in the garbage. This is still common practice today – everywhere.
So when more organic produce is becoming available why does it still look so perfect? I mean no pesticides are used but the fruit generally looks great. Why are there still no worms in the apples like the olden days?
Blenheim apricots being sorted
Sorting. Yes, people still sort. And those who do it are very good at identifying the signs of possible entry by a worm. Small holes, dark spots by the stem (an easy entry) etc. Keep in mind by the time you see that apricot or plum in the grocery store, or in a wood crate at the farmers’ market, many eyeballs and hands have inspected the fruit to make sure you are getting the best. Here are the best Blenheim apricots that have been sorted being weighed in containers destined for supermarkets.
pristine apricots being weighed
Now if you grow your own fruit and vegetables you know there are always the ugly ducklings so to speak. And there always is fruit that looks weird and that has been nibbled on, and worse yet, penetrated by hungry insects. That is life. And we just cut out the bad part and that is that. For example the Blenheim apricots we use are famous for being ugly. This is why traditionally they are sun dried. They get big black spots on them and for us we have to remove them which is time consuming. Why? Because when cooked into jam, the fruit gets translucent but the black spots get darker and look horrible in the jar. We can’t catch them all but we try. So for Blenheim apricots there are the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are the good and the ugly:
But what about organic prepared food? The company that makes that organic frozen pizza, or tomato sauce or yikes – jam – do they sort? Not as much.
Yes, the sad fact is far less sorting is done on an industrial scale of produce that is processed compared to raw produce presented to the buying public. I will never forget when I was in high school I was reading some magazine in the library and there were some statistics published about gross things you normally don’t know about. One that was burned into my mind was the FDA allowed a certain number of maggots – yes maggots – in a certain amount of canned mushrooms. Then there was a certain amount of rat poop allowed in cereal. To this day I refuse to eat canned mushrooms or cereal. And what really bothers me is I have a fondness for hot and sour soup and all Chinese restaurants always use canned mushrooms. Why? What is the matter with fresh?
Anyhow, flash forward 20-something years and I know the reality of this. The organic apricots we use to make our jam have worms in them. I would say 1 out of every 30 apricots has one this summer – more than normal for some reason. We can generally tell since we hand inspect and cut open each apricot. There are tell tale signs, but now and then a perfect looking apricot is split open with a huge fat worm inside – and all these brown bits – yeah, their poop. Talk about gross! And yes, we toss these apricots in the compost bin. These are the bad apricots. Very bad!
But when you get organic food that is produced on an industrial scale, where you can’t have people inspect every piece of fruit like we do, the FDA has created allowances for the worms, maggots, spiders, bits of rat poo that can be in the food. Why, because once you start manufacturing at a high enough volume, it is impossible to keep everything bad out. Even our jam, that is done so meticulously by the two of us, we are sure a few worms must slip by.
Of course, if it is cooked there is no harm. If you ever find a worm in our jam, first it is an organic worm and second it was cooked at such a high temperature it is just as safe to eat as the bits of apricot. Yeah we know, it still is gross. But we know our food has far less bad things in it than stuff made by bigger companies.
So when you are eating any type of prepared organic food you have to keep in mind you will unknowingly ingest worms and other bugs. But look on the bright side. If the fruit or vegetables were safe for these bugs to live on or in, it is much safer for you to eat than produce that is saturated with chemicals that would kill those insects.
Ugly apples, lettuce with nibble holes and spiders between the leaves, apricots with big black freckles, worm holes, worms inside, ants swarming over banana blossoms – this is all perfectly natural with natural fruit and vegetables. These insects know a good thing too – and love to eat just as well as we do. Today, we have to rethink our priorities on what is normal again. And normal is a worm in your apple – or apricot now and then.
Advice from the UC Master Gardener Program’s Help Desk Client’s Question:
Codling Moth frass, a mixture of feces and food fragments, fills tunnels that codling moth larvae have bored into this apple. I ended up last summer and fall with a harvest of wormy apples and pears. What can I do to prevent that this year?
UCMGCC Program’s Help Desk’s Response:
You most likely have codling moths. By the time you see the damage, typically at harvest, it is too late to protect that year’s crop ‐ your preventative tactics need to take place now, in the spring.
Codling moth is a common and serious pest in Contra Costa County’s home-grown apples, pears, and even in walnuts, but calls received at the UC Master Gardener Program’s Help Desk are almost always about apples and pears. And those are not really worms, either, but rather caterpillars, a common term for the larvae of butterflies and moths.
Cydia pomonella You probably would never even notice the adult moth, Cydia pomonella, as it is only about ½ to ¾ inch long with mottled gray wings, and it is only active a few hours before and after sunset. The adult moths emerge from pupation in early spring; the female mates then lays her eggs (30‐70) on either leaves or fruit; the eggs hatch and the larvae chew into the developing fruit. The larvae continue to develop inside the fruit where they are protected from any chemical controls. When larvae are mature, they exit the fruit to pupate in the soil or on debris under the tree or in bark crevices. The cycle then starts all over again with 2 generations per year in the Contra Costa County’s Bayside areas (e.g., Richmond, El Cerrito) and 3‐4 cycles inland (e.g., Concord, San Ramon, Brentwood). The most effective approach is to manage the first generation of the season. Left unmanaged, the codling moth can infest up to 90% of the fruit. To reduce the population of this pest without toxic chemicals, you can use trapping and sanitation techniques.
Codling Moth pupa Codling moth pheromone traps (sticky traps laced with pheromone) attract and capture the males. Fewer males make it more difficult for the females to mate. Hang traps starting in mid March (inland areas) to late March (coastal areas) when the emerging adults are expected to start flying. Use one or two per small tree and two to four per large tree and hang them high in the canopy. Codling moth pheromone traps are typically available at hardware stores, garden centers, or online.
Information on a home-made codling moth bait trap can also be found on UC MGCC Program’s web site at
Sanitation should be an integral part of any codling moth control program. Beginning about six to eight weeks after bloom, start checking fruit for sawdust‐like filled holes (larvae entry holes in the fruit). Check every week or two and remove the infested fruit from the tree and the ground. Dispose of it in your yard waste, not your compost pile.
Sanitation and trapping may be all that is needed when you have an isolated tree and low codling moth populations. But, if populations have been allowed to build up over a number of years (or your neighbors haven’t managed their trees) you may need a more aggressive approach to achieve satisfactory control (and maybe your neighbor’s cooperation). For even more information on aggressive management of codling moths, including even more organic and/or non-chemical actions, go to the UC IPM Online‐-Statewide Integrated Pest Management website: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7412.html
Good luck on “worm” free apples and pears this year.
Contra Costa Master Gardeners Help Desk
This Help Desk response was originally written by Emma Connery for publication in the Contra Costa Times in February 2010. It was originally posted on the blog in March 2015. Because of the numerous questions about Codling Moth at the Help Desk, it has been reposted again this year as a reminder It has been updated for the blog and any errors are the responsibility of the current HOrT COCO blog editor.
Apple Maggot Prevention: Apple Maggot Signs And Control
Apple maggots can ruin an entire crop, leaving you at a loss as to what to do. Learning how to recognize the signs and taking the appropriate preventative measures beforehand is essential in fighting off these pests.
Apple Maggot Signs
While apple trees are the main host for apple maggot pests, they may also be found in any of the following:
- wild rose
The most susceptible apple varieties are the early maturing types as well as those with thin skins.
While other worms affecting apples may be confused with these pests, you can normally tell them apart simply by taking a closer look. Caterpillar worms, which are generally larger, will usually feed deeper—to the core itself. Apple maggots, which are the small (about ¼ inch) larva of fruit flies and resemble maggots, typically feed on the flesh, tunneling throughout the fruit.
Evidence of apple maggots can be seen as tiny pin pricks, or dimples, in the skin. In addition, affected apples will begin to decay rather quickly, becoming soft and rotten prior to falling from the tree. As the maggots grow and tunnel, you will find the tell-tale brown trails winding throughout the fruit when cut open.
Apple Maggot Prevention and Treatment
The best way to prevent attacks is by keeping everything cleaned up by picking apples regularly, especially those that fall from the tree. Unfortunately, once affected, the only treatment is through chemical control, which is normally targeted towards the adult fruit flies.
The specific types and availability of products for apple maggot control can usually be obtained through your local county extension office. Affected trees are sprayed from around mid July to pre-harvest with continual applications (per product instructions or mixed using 3 cups kaolin clay to every 1 gallon of water) every seven to 10 days.
Another apple maggot control product, which is more natural, is kaolin clay. This is often used as a preventative measure, as it creates a film on the fruit that insect pests find irritating. As a result, they tend to avoid any trees/plants that have been treated with kaolin clay. Spraying should be done in mid to late June and reapplied every seven to 10 days. Be sure to fully saturate the tree.
How to Trap the Apple Maggot
Apple maggot fly traps are also available for preventing these pests. These can be purchased from most garden centers or through agricultural suppliers. Apple maggot fly traps are usually set in spring (June) and monitored throughout fall (September). Place one trap in trees less than 8 feet tall and about two to four traps in larger trees. Traps should be cleaned weekly and may require replacement monthly.
Home Remedies to Catch Apple Maggots
Another idea on how to trap the apple maggot is through the use of homemade methods. For instance, you can take some red balls (Styrofoam works well)—about the size of an apple—and coat them with a sticky material, such as molasses. Hang these fake apples on the tree (about four to six per tree, depending on size) at shoulder height. This should attract the fruit flies, which will stick to the balls and promptly be discarded once full.
You can also mix 1 part molasses to 9 parts water with a small amount of yeast. Pour this into several wide-mouthed jars and allow them to become fermented (ready once bubbling subsides). Hang the jars on the strongest limbs and the fruit flies will become trapped inside.
A phrase taken from Isaiah 11:6 says, “and a little child shall lead them.” Most scripture scholars agree the passage containing those seven words has nothing to do with children teaching or leading adults. However, in our day-to-day living we’re never too old, nor too wise to know it all. We’re still learning from each other; regardless of age.
Got lots to share about apple maggot and ant controls, plus a letter from Alberta Grainews readers. As gardeners and farmers we stand on terra firma, (Latin) that is: solid earth; a firm footing. Before I meander any further along the garden path, let me tip my hat and extend welcome to all.
A letter leads the way
Thanks to Judy Allan from Edmonton who sent along three pages of a typed letter. I’ve condensed it down to save space.
“Hi Ted: My husband and I love your page in Grainews and never miss reading it. We appreciate all the gardening and other excellent suggestions you and readers give us. Some articles are just so informative and others just fun. We have two apple trees, one is a Parkland and the other a Norland; two Evans cherry trees that have lots of large, red semi-sweet cherries; a plum tree that is just amazing and a large grapevine covering about 20 feet on our backyard fence that produces 50 to 60 pounds a season of very good eating concord-like grapes.”
Judy continues: “We’ve had maggots the past two summers and treated both trees with commercial apple maggot traps with sticky-like glue and pheromone lures. This has not been very effective. This year we will use your apple maggot formula No. 1. We are desperate and my dear husband has threatened to cut down both trees if things don’t improve.
“I’m sharing an ant killer mixture we were given. Mix equal parts of icing sugar and baking soda, then add a small amount of water mixing as you go until you have a smooth, soft mixture that slides off the end of a teaspoon but stays together to form a small circle the size of a quarter or loonie. I put down some of this mixture here, there and everywhere. It seems to work best on hard surfaces like cement, cobblestone, sidewalk blocks, stepping stones, etc. I actually put it on the painted bottom board of our fence, behind the grapevine. Keep replacing it as it will harden up. Try it out Ted. It was super effective in our yard. I did not know that ants are more prevalent where there are aphids until you pointed it out in one of your articles. — Judy Allan.”
Ted’s response: Judy also asks about lime-water spray, so I’m providing some information about it a little further along. Apple maggot flies throw a one-two punch when it comes to causing damage. The first punch occurs when they lay eggs on the apples resulting in a weird, dimpled appearance on the outer skin. After the maggots hatch comes punch two. They tunnel into the flesh of apples causing a brownish breakdown with riddles and rot. The following should help Judy (hopefully her husband doesn’t have to cut down their apple trees) and others in preventing maggot tunnels. Eradication and control can be as high as 90 per cent; even higher.
Formula No. 1
Note: The three formulas that follow are NOT a spray. Here’s some preamble first. After mixing stated ingredients together, pour some of either 1, 2 or 3 into clean plastic bottles, to just below a one- or two-inch square hole cut out on one side about halfway up. Hang six or seven such containers in each apple tree after petals have dropped, starting about early to mid-July depending on weather, or once fruits are fairly large. By then maggot flies have emerged from soil, mate and begin laying eggs about 10 days later. Strain contents of each trap weekly to remove dead insects and other debris. Solution can be reused several times, but make fresh batches once it becomes smelly.
Mix one part blackstrap molasses diluted in some hot water so it pours easily into eight parts plain water and six parts white vinegar. Cooking molasses may be used in a pinch. An example of aforesaid would be:
- 1 litre of molasses
- 8 litres of water
- 6 litres of white vinegar
Formula No. 2
Combine one part molasses and nine parts warm water to which some yeast cake or yeast granules have been added on top. Mix together once it stops working. Fill containers with this bait and hang in apple trees. Renew with a fresh batch as required.
Formula No. 3
This one is simplest and least expensive. Mix it outdoors. To each litre of water add 10 ml (2 teaspoons) of household ammonia and a bit of liquid soap OR soap powder (not laundry detergent). Make a fresh batch weekly.
Baited traps will attract and drown many adult maggot flies. Unfortunately, some beneficial insects may also be attracted and perish. Hang traps about 1.5 metres (5.0 feet) high mostly on sunny sides of apple trees.
Hot pepper oil concentrate
All you need is a glass mason jar that can be covered with a lid and some dried hot peppers to make a cold oil infusion. Wear disposable gloves to avoid burning skin on your hands and protective eye goggles. Slice open a dozen and a half dried hot chili peppers. Some of the seeds should be exposed as they contain the hottest part. Place prepared hot dried peppers inside the jar and add one cup of olive oil or canola oil. Cover with a lid but not tightly shut.
If you notice any peppers or seeds floating to the top or are exposed to the air, add a little more oil if needed or invert the jar a few times. Pepper parts floating to the top can take on mould and you don’t want that, in which case discard and start with a fresh batch.
Allow hot peppers to soak in oil for two or three days, then it’s ready to use. Straining off the oil (or not) and discarding the peppers is your choice. The longer peppers remain in oil without straining, the more potent it becomes.
Label the jar contents as “Hot Pepper Oil Concentrate” and store high up, out of reach of children to avoid a mishap, as it will burn. You can usually also buy prepared hot pepper oil at stores specializing in Italian and European ethnic foods and at some health food stores.
Hot pepper spray – prep and application
Not all hot peppers are equal in strength. Some are far more potent than others. With that in mind some personal experimentation will be required to avoid burning anything that’s sprayed. You may need to use a little less concentrate or a little more when preparing a spray.
Add 1/4 cup homemade hot pepper concentrate to each clean 4-litre jug of water and stir in 1 tablespoon of liquid or powdered soap (not detergent). You can also add 2 tablespoons of baking soda, or leave it out. It’s optional.
Be sure to wear protective clothing, rubber gloves and eye protection when spraying apple trees, as it can easily drift back onto your face and skin in the slightest breeze. As soon as it thaws in early spring, moisten soil in a circle around base of each apple tree with pepper spray for a distance of five feet from each tree trunk to stop emerging pests, especially maggot flies. When spraying trees, early morning or later in the day when temp. remains under 25 C is best time to avoid risk of burning anything. Cover all areas of the tree including trunk, branches, tops and undersides of leaves and forming fruit every seven to 10 days. As well, reapply this spray after rainfall or following heavy dew. This spray is non-judgmental and kills both harmful insects and any beneficials that may be attracted. Use pepper spray selectively by applying it when bees are least active.
On another note
Be aware that hot peppers and microwaves don’t mix. Here’s the story of a person who placed hot peppers on a moistened towel to steam and soften them inside a microwave. It was set for one minute with disastrous results. What happened next?
Within seconds the smell of hot pepper filled the kitchen with an overpowering odour; a form of unintentional hot pepper scent had permeated throughout. By the time said person got to the microwave, the entire kitchen had taken on a lingering hot pepper scent. With burning eyes and breath held; the individual opened all windows and doors to air out the house and then evacuated the premises until the air was tolerable again. It took over two hours to refresh and clear the house so the air was acceptable.
Lime juice is an organic pesticide
Create a mixture of 1/4 to 1/2 cup lime juice with 4 litres of water and spray the solution on plants where bug infestations are prominent. This homemade spray serves as an irritant to destroy and keep away mites, aphids, sawfly worms and other smaller insects. One word of caution about lime solution when overused. It may alter pH levels (neutral acid-alkaline balance) in soil. Some plants may like it; others will find it disagreeable.
Stirring a few drops of mild liquid soap into the lime juice-water makes it even more potent. Remember you are experimenting when using any homemade formula for the first time and adjustments may be necessary such as hosing off plants with plain water an hour after applying lime-water solution. Do it early in the morning and only on plants infected with unwanted pests; otherwise beneficial insects are also harmed. Keep in mind — the majority of bugs is neither bad nor harmful.
SOUND GARDENER: The time is nigh to trap apple maggots
Sun | Home & Garden
Chris Smith — Jun 8th, 2002
Trapping season for apple maggot flies is open. If you plan to thwart these pests with sticky traps, now’s the time to lay in supplies. Actually, given the cool, wet spring we’ve had, there probably won’t be any significant hatch before the end of the month. Still, it’s best to put out the traps as early in June as you can.
As insecticides to control apple maggot have become harder to find, traps have emerged as an effective and less damaging alternative. You have to apply sprays at frequent intervals between June and harvest. Each application kills innocent and beneficial critters along with the pests. In contrast, the real apple sticky traps I used last year were effective for three weeks to a month before I had to replace them, and they killed only a few non target insects.
The simplest sticky traps are yellow panels and red spheres. Yellow traps use ammonium compounds as scent baits to attract immature flies intent on feeding. Red spheres use a butyl hexanoate lure which smells like an apple to older female flies ready to lay eggs. Some trappers use both traps or invest in Ladd traps, hybrid devices incorporating elements of both.
You may find pre-baited, pre-stickied yellow traps, red plastic spheres and scent lures at local nurseries. If not, you can order them from Gemplers (800) 382-8473, www.gemplers.com) or Great Lakes IPM (989) 268-5693, www.greatlakesipm.com. Order Ladd traps from Ladd Research Industries (800) 451-3406, www.laddresearch.com. For traps not already stickied, you’ll need Tanglefoot’s Brush-on Formula Tangle-Trap; it’s available at many nurseries.
If you want to save money, make your own traps WSU’s gardening Web site at http://gardening.wsu.edu can help. When you get to the site, click on Library, then Tree Fruit, then Pests Under specific pests, you’ll find detailed instructions on trap building.
Last year, rather than buying expensive red plastic spheres, I skewered small Red Delicious apples on sections of coat hanger wire, coated them with Tangle-Trap and hung them in my trees with vials of butyl hexanoate lure twist-tied a few inches away. These cheap traps worked well, and when they filled with flies, I simply pitched them in the garbage and put up new ones. This year I plan to hang a few real apple traps without scent lures to see if they attract as many flies as the ones with the lures. Other home orchardists reported success with traps made from burnt out light bulbs painted red and red plastic drinking cups.
Plan on one or two traps per dwarf tree, two to three per semi-dwarf and a couple more for a standard tree. Site them at least head-high, close to the fruits and anchor them with wire so the wind won’t whip them.
In next week’s column, I’ll discuss a kaolin (fine clay) spray that discourages apple maggot flies from laying their eggs on treated fruit. If offers another non toxic control alternative.
Chris Smith is a longtime Kitsap County gardener. He cannot answer individual questions but will answer questions of general interest in his column.
e-mail: [email protected]