We planted a small orchard in our backyard several years ago (tour my garden here), and it’s finally starting to spring into action. Last year our apricot bushes fruited for the first time, and our apple trees produced their second harvest. This year, it looks like our cherry bushes are going to get in on the action, too They’re flowering now.
It’s pretty exciting to see all of our hard work coming together, but with each stage comes new obstacles. The first year our apricot bushes flowered, there weren’t any bees out to pollinate them, so we built mason bee houses to attract early pollinators to our yard. That worked like a charm, and we had lots of apricots last year. I’m sure the pests that ate them really appreciated our efforts.
Just like the codling moths appreciated our first crop of apples and the birds appreciated our first two crops of grapes. It’s enough to make you want to give up, but we’ve stuck with it, and we’ve found ways to address every one of our pests. Now we bag our grapes to keep the birds off, and we stick codling moth traps out as soon as we spot the first leaves on our apple trees.
This year I’m hoping to build on that success by finding a pest control solution for our apricot bushes and a cheaper pest control solution for our apple trees. Here’s the scoop on what I’m trying.
For the past couple years I’ve used baited codling moth traps in our apple trees (the remains of one is seen above), and they’ve worked like a charm. They’re just waxed paper traps that are baited with pheromones and coated in Tanglefoot (a sticky goo). Moths fly inside, get stuck, and that’s the end of the story. They work fantastically, but they’re pretty pricey. A two pack currently sells for $13.01 on Amazon, and since I have three apple trees, I’d have to spend $26.02 to protect our trees. I’m not even getting $26.02 worth of apples from our trees yet, so that’s a hard pill to swallow.
Well, over the winter I discovered that you can buy Tanglefoot in both brush-on and spray-on form. Meaning you can make your own Tanglefoot traps, and that’s just what I did.
When you make codling moth traps, you can either use pheromones or color to attract the moths. The pheromones are kind of expensive, so I decided to go with color.
Red is the color that you traditionally see when you buy ready-made Tanglefoot traps, but I did a bit of research and came across a study that found that green traps work best.
We happen to live close to a tennis court, and the trash cans are always full of tennis balls, so we rescued some balls, and screwed a cup hook into each one (the hooks were rescued from a curb pile, too).
Then, I just brushed a thin coat of Tanglefoot onto each ball, and hung them in all of our trees (apple, apricot and cherry).
Here’s a video of what I did:
Note: Prices for this product tend to fluctuate. I would advise comparing all sizes and prices before you make your purchase.
Did The Traps Work?
Yep, our pest control experiment was a huge success. Just ask the raccoon who ate all of the pest-free apples from our three apple trees. Groan! So, we’ll be doing this again next year, but it looks like we’ll be adding a live animal trap to the mix.
Update 2017: This is our third year using our homemade codling moth traps, and we continue to be thrilled with the results. Here’s what one of our traps looked like after hanging for a month.
And here are the worm-free apples that we harvested off of our trees. I didn’t come across a single apples with insect damage when I was picking them.
It recently occurred to me that theses would also work well as fly traps. I plan to make a few to use on our front porch.