Are you tired of dealing with pesky codling moths that can destroy your apple and pear crops? If so, you may have heard that neem oil is an effective solution.
But does it really work?
In this article, we’ll explore the properties of neem oil and its effectiveness in killing codling moths. We’ll also discuss other management techniques and tips for preventing fruit damage.
So, let’s dive in and find out if neem oil is the solution you’ve been looking for!
Does Neem Oil Kill Codling Moths?
Neem oil has been found to have a number of excellent properties, including being an effective insecticide, fungicide, and repellent. It is no wonder that many people have turned to neem oil as a solution for dealing with codling moths.
To use neem oil for codling moths, simply combine one tablespoon of the oil, one teaspoon of liquid soap, and a gallon of water. Shake well and apply it to the affected areas using a spray bottle and let it soak in. It is effective against the moths and will also smother and kill the eggs. You should start to see a difference within a few days.
However, it is important to note that neem oil should only be applied once most pollination has occurred. Sprays should be applied around sunset when adult moths are most active.
While neem oil can be effective in killing codling moths, it is not the only solution. Understanding the moth’s life cycle is important for determining management methods and timing of controls. Depending on temperatures, there can be up to three generations of codling moths per growing season. Using a combination of management methods can prevent fruit damage if interventions begin early in the season (spring) and if appropriate methods are chosen and implemented at the right time.
Other soft or organic materials that probably would work better for you include Entrust (spinosad), or better yet oil + Entrust. These materials have been found to have greater efficacy if you get the timing right using the model.
What Are Codling Moths And How Do They Damage Fruit?
Codling moths are a type of moth that belongs to the family Tortricidae. They are considered to be one of the most destructive pests of apples and pears worldwide. The adult moths are gray to brown in color with a wingspan of about 12 to 20 mm. They have a chocolate-colored patch at the tip of each forewing and coppery transverse markings. Codling moth larvae are small, pink or creamy white caterpillars with mottled brown heads that tunnel through apples directly to the core. As they feed, they push out mounds of fecal material, called frass, which gathers around the entrance hole. This damage lowers the market value of the fruit and makes it unfit for human consumption.
On apples and pears, larvae penetrate into the fruit and tunnel to the core, leaving holes in the fruit that are filled with reddish-brown, crumbly droppings called frass. If left uncontrolled, larvae can cause substantial damage, often infesting 20 to 90% of the fruit, depending on the variety and location. Late maturing varieties are more likely to suffer severe damage than early varieties.
In walnuts, larvae feed on the kernels. Nuts damaged early in the season when the nuts are quite small will drop off trees soon after damage occurs. Nuts damaged later in the season will remain on trees, but their kernels are inedible. Walnuts aren’t as favored a host as apples and pears, and untreated trees might incur very little to modest damage (10 to 15% of the nuts), depending on the variety and location.
It is important to note that codling moths can be managed using a combination of management methods if interventions begin early in the season (spring) and if appropriate methods are chosen and implemented at the right time. This can prevent fruit damage and ensure a healthy crop.
What Is Neem Oil And How Does It Work?
Neem oil is a natural insecticide, fungicide, and repellent that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and agriculture. It is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree and is particularly valuable to indoor and hydroponic growers. Neem oil works by disrupting the life stages of the insects it targets, including codling moths. The oil contains a highly active compound called azadirachtin, which can disable an insect’s ability to eat, mate, and lay eggs. Additionally, neem oil has an ingredient that can protect plants, trees, and bushes from disease. It can help prevent debilitating diseases such as mildew, rust, leaf spot, and scab. Neem oil is often sprayed early in the growing season on berry bushes, fruit trees, and grape vines to keep insects off of the plants as well. When using neem oil as a spray against codling moths, it is important to apply it once most pollination has occurred and around sunset when adult moths are most active.
Studies On The Effectiveness Of Neem Oil Against Codling Moths
Studies have shown that neem oil can be an effective solution for managing codling moths. Neem oil has been found to have a range of properties, including being an insecticide, fungicide, and repellent. When applied to affected areas, neem oil can smother and kill codling moth eggs and adults.
However, it is important to note that very few studies have been conducted on the resistance to neem oil for different reasons. The multitude of molecules and potential mode of action of neem extract, as well as the various modes of action identified for purified azadirachtin itself, make it difficult to determine the effectiveness of neem oil in the long term.
In one study, repeated treatments with either neem oil or purified azadirachtin on peach aphid populations demonstrated possible development of resistance. After 40 generations, no resistance was observed for aphids that were treated with neem oil, whereas those treated with purified azadirachtin presented a resistance that was 9-fold higher compared to non-treated aphids. This resistance is equivalent to a low to medium resistance, which could be reached in fields within 4-5 years of exclusive treatments because aphids generally produce a maximum of 12 generations per year. However, this bio-pesticide seems quite interesting in terms of durability.
While neem oil can be effective in killing codling moths, it is important to understand the moth’s life cycle and implement appropriate management methods at the right time. Using a combination of management methods, such as trapping with pheromone lures and applying neem oil sprays at the appropriate time, can prevent fruit damage and effectively manage codling moths.
How To Use Neem Oil To Control Codling Moths
If you want to use neem oil to control codling moths, here are the steps you need to follow:
1. Purchase pure neem oil: Make sure you select a pure neem oil product that is entirely organic and carries the OMRI seal as a verified organic product. One brand that has been found to be effective is Neem Bliss.
2. Mix the neem oil: Use one (1) ounce of neem oil for every gallon of water. Add in a few drops of liquid dish soap to the mix and stir. The dish soap helps allow the mixture to adhere to the foliage and stems of plants, acting as an oil agent.
3. Apply the neem oil: Apply the mixture using a spray bottle or backpack sprayer around sunset when adult moths are most active. Make sure to spray only after most pollination has occurred, as neem oil can harm pollinating bees.
4. Repeat the process: Repeat the process every 6-8 weeks throughout the fruiting season, or as needed based on the moth’s life cycle.
It is important to note that while neem oil can be effective in killing codling moths, it is not a standalone solution. Using a combination of management methods can prevent fruit damage if interventions begin early in the season (spring) and if appropriate methods are chosen and implemented at the right time.
Other Management Techniques For Codling Moth Control
In addition to neem oil, there are other management techniques that can be used to control codling moth infestations. These techniques include sanitation, fruit bagging, pruning, and thinning fruit.
Sanitation involves keeping your orchard floor free of dropped fruit and removing codling moth damaged fruit from your trees throughout the season. This can reduce overall crop damage by reducing the number of future generations of codling moth and preventing secondary damage from wasps and birds.
Fruit bagging is another nonchemical control method that can be used to prevent codling moth infestations. This method involves placing bags over individual fruit to prevent moths from laying eggs on them. This is a time-consuming process, but it can be effective in preventing infestations.
Pruning trees to a height where the canopy is easy to reach also facilitates management of this pest. Thinning out and removing infested fruit on the tree is an especially important part of an IPM program for codling moth. Fruit should be thinned to one fruit per cluster or for every six inches of branch length, leaving no fruit touching. Fruit thinning will also discourage trees from cropping heavily one year and not at all the next (biennial bearing).
Chemical controls are also available for codling moth management. Chemicals that control codling moth include spinosyn, carbaryl, esfenvalerate, and malathion. However, it is important to read and follow the pesticide label directions attached to the pesticide container being used.
Using a combination of these management techniques can prevent fruit damage if interventions begin early in the season (spring) and if appropriate methods are chosen and implemented at the right time.
Tips For Preventing Fruit Damage From Codling Moths
1. Sanitation is the first step in any codling moth control program. Every week or two, beginning about six to eight weeks after bloom, check fruit on trees for signs of damage. Remove and destroy any infested fruit showing the frass-filled holes. Removing infested fruit before the larvae are old enough to crawl out and begin the next generation can be a very effective method for reducing the population.
2. Trapping codling moths can also be an effective method for reducing populations. Place traps earlier in the season and use the captures to establish “biofix”, or the first consistent capture of moths. Then use the biofix date to set the degree day model to predict when to time your sprays (at 250 degree days from biofix).
3. Chemicals that control codling moth include spinosyn, carbaryl, esfenvalerate and malathion. If you want to control codling moth and apple scab at the same time, mix pesticide and fungicide in the same tank, or use a pre-mixed all-purpose fruit spray that does not contain carbaryl.
4. Do not treat before most or all of the petals have fallen from the apple blossoms as the sprays will be ineffective and will also kill pollinating bees. Make a second spray, 7 to 10 days later.
5. Using a combination of management methods can prevent fruit damage if interventions begin early in the season (spring) and if appropriate methods are chosen and implemented at the right time.
By following these tips, you can effectively prevent fruit damage from codling moths and protect your harvest.