Apple trees attract pests that by nature infest the fruits and ruin them for later picking as the apples ripen. Learning how to identify the pests and ways of treating them takes time and effort. Without pest control or fly traps, your apple trees will look neglected with bug holes in the leaves and misshapen fruit. For the best success, start attending to the pest control of the apple tree before dormancy breaks in early spring.
Sulphur spray is an old-fashioned pest control used in apple tree care, specifically against scab and mildew. If you use the sprayable sulphur, mix 103ml. with 1 gallon of water and spray your tree every three to five days until four weeks after the blossoms drop. Continue spraying until the harvest, but only every two weeks. The leaves need to be dripping wet with the spray for it to be effective.
Cardboard collars provide a home for the coddling moth emerging from the ground in the early spring, looking for a place to lay its eggs. An 8-inch section of cardboard taped about 18 inches up from the ground is a perfect nest for the moths. Once you notice the cocoons on the sides of the cardboard, remove the collars and place the cardboard in trash bags for disposal.
Pheromone lures mimic the smell of the female coddling moth and attract the male moths. A mixture of 227gr. of cider vinegar, 85.1gr. of dark molasses, 1/8 tsp of ammonia and enough water to make 1-1/2 qts. of liquid makes up the fake pheromone. In the spring, 56.7gr. of the mixture is enough to bait the moth traps, which consist of small cups or milk jugs hung in the trees.
Sticky globes or rectangles attract apple maggot flies that emerge also from the soil in the early summer. The apple maggot is one of the biggest pests to apple growers, so keeping them out of your trees is important for a bug-free harvest. Use bright-red spheres coated in a sticky insect adhesive to attract the flies or bright-yellow rectangles also coated with the insect adhesive. You need at least one trap per tree and more for larger trees.
Kaolin clay is another effective insect barrier in apple trees. It is not really an insecticide since it does not affect the apple maggot flies, but it does resist them. The product is finely ground clay that coats the leaves and apples making them unappealing to pests. Several applications build up an effective barrier with no harm to the fruit. The kaolin clay coating washes off after harvest.
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- Ohio State University Integrated Pest Management; Using Feeding Attractant Based Traps; Ron Becker;
- Michigan State University Extension; Organic Apple Spray Program; Mark Longstroth; March 2001
- Missouri State University Extension; Winter Care Ensures Healthy Spring Apple Trees; Michele Warmund
- Washington State University Extension; Protecting Backyard Apple Trees from Apple Maggot; Michael R. Bush, et al.; 2002