The Q&A Archives: Apples

Question: What organic method can I use to get rid of worms in my apples.

Answer: The fruits of apple trees are often ruined by Coddling Moth larvae and Apple Maggot. Coddling moth larvae are usually found in the core area of the apple. The adult lays eggs inside apple blossoms. When the fruit forms, the egg hatches into a worm-like larvae. Apple Maggot is the immature form of an adult fly. The fly lays eggs just under the skin of the developing apple. When the eggs hatch, the larvae tunnel throughout the flesh of the apple, leaving rust-colored frass (bug poop). When it's time to leave the apple, the larvae digs an exit hole, spins a web, and pupates in the soil below the tree, where it emerges as an adult some months later. Control of both these pests is difficult. There are some pheromone traps (sex attractant) available through mail order companies that you can hang in your trees. Many gardeners have success in trapping Apple Maggots by using red rubber balls, or painting styrofoam balls red, coating either with sticky 'Tanglefoot', and hanging them in the tree. The flies are attracted to the red spheres and try to lay their eggs. They'll be hopelessly stuck if they land. Be sure to pick up and bury any infested or fallen fruit from the tree to prevent a population explosion of either pest. Washington State University issues the following suggestions: For CODLING MOTH (the worm in the apple): Start preventive spraying of the fruit 17- 21 days after full bloom. Keep the trees protected through August. A third generation can occur from late August to mid-September, so additional protection may be needed through this time. Spinosad (Bull?s-eye Bioinsecticide from Gardens Alive, Inc.); Monterey Garden Insect Spray Easy-to-Use) and Ferti-lome Caterpillar, Borer, Bagwor, Leafminer Spray) or Kaolin (Surround Home Crop Protectant from Gardens Alive Inc.) Follow label directions on all products. SPRAY TIMING IS CRITICAL. Follow the spray schedule given on the label. Reapply the spray after a brief, heavy rainfall or showers of longer duration and then resume your regular schedule. If the apple is not protected, the egg laid by the codling moth will hatch and the small worm will enter the apple and be protected from the sprays. If your apples become infested with worms, removethe apples from the tree and seal them in large, black garbage bags. Leave these bags in the sun for two weeks to kill the worms. Best wishes with your apples!

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