Farm Focus: Biological Control of Codling Moth

At Frog Hollow we strive to employ Integrated Pest Management or IPM to reduce pest pressure before any major damage can be done. IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of controls. Controls typically fall under three categories:

 1. Cultural Control - these are physical controls like weed whacking the understory of the orchard to bring down problematic mite populations (more on that next week).

2. Biological Control - uses living organisms to reduce pest pressure. This may entail releasing predator insects to control a pest or planting trap crops to draw pests away from cash crops.

3. Chemical Control - uses sprays to control pests. In IPM, this is the last measure to use if all other measures have failed. 

Last week, Gregg Young, our agronomist, discovered the presence of codling moth eggs in our apples and pears, our biggest pest on these two crops. Gregg is always on the alert to identify the presence of these eggs early so we have a better chance of managing the pests before they become a major problem and adversely affect the crop.  

We were quick to take action to control these pests using a biological control method with which we've had great success in previous years. In the apple and pear orchards, our crew hangs cards that are coated with over 3,000 host eggs that contain the beneficial larvae of the indigenous Trichogramma platneri predatory wasp. When the larvae of the T. platneri hatch they predate and kill the codling moth eggs, reducing their population.  

T. platneri.JPG

Our field crew hung 1 square-inch card on every 7th tree in our 20 acres of apples and pears, resulting in about 100,000 T. planteri eggs per acre. Beneath each card, they painted a complete ring around the branch holding the card with a goo called "Stikem Special." This goo creates a physical barrier and prevents ants from crawling up the branch and predating our precious predatory T. planteri eggs.  

We expect the T. planteri eggs to hatch this week and hopefully do their job of reducing the egg population of codling moths in the orchard. Gregg will be monitoring the efficacy of this program.  We'll keep you posted!