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Featured Pest

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Codling Moth

Codling moths are serious pests of apples and pears. The larvae fed within the fruit, causing unsightly tunnels.


Adults are gray-brown moths with wingspans of 3/4 inch (2 cm); wings have a fine coppery brown, wavy pattern, and the forewings are tipped with chocolate brown. Larvae are pinkish white with brown heads, up to 3/4 inch (2 cm) long. Eggs are white disks.


Throughout North America.

Plants Affected

Apple, crab apple, pear, occasionally other fruit. In many areas, they are the most damaging pest in apple and pear orchards.


The larvae ruin fruit by tunneling to the core. An infested apple has a hole (usually near the blossom end) filled with dark masses of castings. Damage may not be obvious until you cut the fruit open.

Life Cycle

Larvae overwinter in thick cocoons under bark or nearby litter. They pupate in spring, and adults emerge when apple trees bloom. Females lay eggs on foliage and fruit, usually on upper surface of leaves. Eggs hatch in 1-3 weeks, and larvae chew their way into the fruit core, usually from the blossom end. They feed for 3-5 weeks, then crawl down the tree to pupate under loose bark or under nearby plant litter. Two to three generations per year, 5-8 weeks apart.


In winter, attract birds to eat overwintering cocoons. Crow cover crops to attract native parasites and predators, especially ground beetles.


In late winter, scrape bark to remove cocoons; apply dormant oil sprays. Use sticky tree bands or bands of corrugated cardboard to trap larvae leaving teh tree to pupate; check for larvae and destroy daily. Diligent trapping of first generation will considerably reduce second generation. Apply codling moth granulosis virus sprays when and where product is available. As a last resort, spray ryania when 75 percent of petals fall, followed by three sprays at 1-2 week intervals. In larger orchards, use pheromone traps to determine the main flight periods for moths (when more than two males are caught for 2 weeks in a row); then time sprays to coincide with egg hatch or release Trichogramma parasitic wasps to attack eggs. Also in larger orchards, use pheromone twist-tie dispensers throughout trees to confuse males and prevent mating; if used together with tree bands, widespread control can be achieved.

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