Protect Your Fruit From Moth Infestations

It’s one of the most frustrating situations to encounter: You work hard in your garden to yield a crop that will feed you and your family, and just as suddenly as the fruit blossomed and yielded a plentiful harvest after the moths come and eat away at it. Can this be stopped? Not everyone wants to douse their gardens with chemicals and pesticides, so there has to be a better way to protect fruit from moth infestations!

codling moth

How It Happens

In early summer, usually around May or June, those pesky moths lay eggs on the leaves of young fruit. Over time, itty bitty, terribly destructive larvae burrow into the fruit and eat the seeds. Though they’re not after the sweet nectar that you’re planning on eating, it’s destroyed by their tunneling as they devour whatever’s in their way to get to those seeds. Before you know it, the eggs that have been laid hatch, and the madness starts all over again in a cycle that seemingly can’t be stopped.

Round 2 Of Destruction

Round 2 of destruction comes when the tiny (and full) larvae-turned-caterpillars make their way down the trunk of the tree or plant toward the ground, where they’ll seek a place for their little bodies to nestle down for a quiet period of time as they turn into moths. Prevent these resting larvae from emerging as moths by tying a strip of greased corrugated cardboard around the base of each trunk. The caterpillars will see the cardboard as an ideal place to nestle down. In March or April, before the moths emerge (like they did the first time), take the cardboard and burn it, thereby burning each larvae that’s about to emerge as a moth.

And Just for Good Measure…

While a consistent cycle of planting cardboard for the moths and then burning it will work every season, take an extra step to ensure that moths who don’t lay their eggs on the leaves don’t just stop to chow down on your fruit, anyway. Do this by purchasing sticky traps from a hardware store, such as Lowes or Home Depot, and suspending them from the branches in the trees. These traps sometimes have sweet scents that attract the moths, who will fly into the hanging traps and be stuck. Once the season of egg laying has ended and most insects are burrowed down, remove the sticky traps as you’re not likely to encounter more moths.

Essentially, you can beat a moth infestation by understanding their strategy of breeding, and by timing your approach correctly. In keeping their eggs from hatching by using a greased piece of cardboard as a lure before you burn it, and then by hanging sticky traps from the tree and branches, you’ll ensure that your fruit survives and thrives without the annoying intrusion of insects and moths.