The codling moth is one of the largest fruit pests in Europe. The colloquially known fruit maggots destroy tons of apples, pears, apricots, peaches, cherries and plums in private and commercial fruit growing every year. Combating it is a top priority for many hobby gardeners who cultivate fruit trees. Whoever wants to get rid of the fruit maggots has to know their life cycle.

Appearance and way of life of codling moths

The codling moth itself is a moth from the moth family. It is gray-brown with grayish stripes, 1 cm long and has a copper-colored point at the end of the wings. The wingspan is about 2 cm. It is not this butterfly that is the culprit, but its whitish-yellow larvae, which can be up to 2 cm long when fully grown. In the period from May to June, the butterfly flies out preferably at dusk, especially in mild weather with temperatures around 20 ° Celsius. The female codling moths lay up to 60 eggs individually on the young fruits or leaves, from which the larvae hatch after 7 to 15 days. The temperature plays an important role in this process, because below 15 ° Celsius the moths stop laying eggs because the eggs would not develop. In the 3 to 4 weeks, until the larvae are fully grown, they eat their way through the fruit bowl, the pulp and do not stop at the kernels. The infestation on the fruit can be recognized by the small holes in the bowl. Depending on the weather conditions, one to two generations of codling moths form per year. They overwinter in pupated form, protected by cocoons, in the bark of the fruit trees.

Biological control
methods Since the fruit maggots attack fruits in all degrees of ripeness, they cause enormous damage every year. Therefore, the methods of control are constantly being developed and improved in order to get rid of codling moths. Since it is food, hobby gardeners and commercial fruit growers give preference to organic methods and only resort to chemical insecticides when there is no other way out.


During winter and early spring from January to April, the endangered fruit trees are regularly checked for codling moth larvae. Even a vigorous shake lets a large number of pupated pests fall to the ground, where they are completely collected. Ideally, a foil is spread out under the tree beforehand so that no pests can get away with it. Since the barks of older fruit trees are preferred for winter quarters, they are brushed off thoroughly without damaging the bark. A special bark scraper can also be used to get rid of the larvae of the fruit maggots.

Remove infested fruits immediately
All fruits that show signs of infestation by fruit maggots must be picked immediately or picked up from the ground. Depending on the extent of the damage, the fruits are inedible and must be disposed of. Above all, fallen fruit must not lie on the ground for long, because otherwise the fruit maggots will crawl back to the tree and spread further.

The corrugated cardboard catch belt

Experienced hobby gardeners have developed a cunning trap that can be used from the end of June. The trunks of the fruit trees at this point are wrapped with strips of corrugated cardboard about 8 inches wide. The larvae crawl into the cardboard instead of into the bark to overwinter and can be disposed of with this catching belt. Any supporting posts on the trees should also be wrapped in corrugated cardboard.

Confusion method

This strategy of combating fruit pests uses their mating behavior. The female moths send out special scents called pheromones to attract the males. In the orchard, these scents are now increasingly spread, so that the male codling moths are so confused that they can no longer find the females. The pheromones are either attached to the trees in ampoules or sprayed in the area of ​​the fruit trees. The best time to apply the fragrances is determined using the temperature sum method and announced by the official service. Certain temperature values ​​are added together in order to obtain a prognosis about the development of the pests. A crucial premise for the successful use of the confusion method is,


This ecological tactic also uses pheromones. However, it should not be confused with the confusion method, because the attractant trap really catches the male codling moths. Here, cardboard boxes are provided with pheromones and glue. The males are attracted and remain stuck in the trap. In this way, the number of females fertilized is significantly reduced. The confusion method and the attractant trap cannot completely eliminate the population of fruit pests, but they make a significant contribution to reducing the use of chemical agents.

Promote predators

It is probably one of the most natural ways to get rid of fruit maggots. Anyone who knows the predators of codling moths and their larvae and designs their garden invitingly for them has the best chance of a rich, clean fruit harvest. The fruit maggots especially like to eat earwigs, also jokingly called ear peasants. Therefore, they are often found in the passages drilled by the larvae in the pulp. These beneficial insects move out at dusk to hunt for fruit maggots, aphids and other pests. During the day they prefer to stay in hollow branches and tree stumps as well as under stones. The parasitic wasps, which are now even bred for biological pest control, are among the most important natural counterparts of the fruit maggots. Parasitic wasps are offered for sale in specialist shops and garden centers. The codling moth larvae are also a welcome source of food for birds. Those who make their garden inviting for their feathered friends invite them to linger. This includes, for example, hanging up birdhouses and planting dense, freely growing hedges in which they can nest.

To get rid of voracious fruit maggots, the baculoviruses have proven themselves as a biological measure. These very large DNA viruses only infect insects and their larvae. As early as the 1940s, they were used on grain fields to control pests as a biological insecticide. The total of 600 hosts that attack and kill these viruses also include the fruit maggots. However, experts report that they have discovered codling moths that the baculoviruses cannot harm.

Caterpillar glue rings

As soon as the temperatures exceed the 10 ° mark, the pupated larvae of the fruit maggots begin to crawl out of their winter quarters in the bark of the fruit trees. If they come across caterpillar glue rings with which the trunk is wrapped, the way to the leaves and fruits is blocked. The caterpillar glue rings are usually available by the meter from specialist retailers and can be used straight away. The rings must be attached tightly and overlapping so that the maggots cannot crawl through. Experienced hobby gardeners choose caterpillar glue rings in a dark green color so that they do not also attract useful insects. Since these rings do not contain any chemical additives, they could in principle be disposed of on the compost heap. Even so, once removed, they should be burned,

Natural sharpening agents

Long before the chemical industry existed, experienced gardeners knew that in nature, in principle, there is an herb against every pest. It all depends on the right recipe so that the natural remedy works. To get rid of codling moths, vermouth manure has proven itself. In contrast to a broth, a liquid manure has to ferment for a certain time, usually two weeks. To do this, the shredded herbs and the appropriate amount of water are poured into a plastic container and positioned in a sunny spot in the garden. The vermouth slurry is made according to the following recipe:

  • 300 grams of fresh wormwood leaves
  • alternatively 30 grams of dried leaves
  • 10 liters of rainwater or stale water

The wormwood leaves, cut into small pieces, are mixed with the water. During the fermentation of about 10 to 14 days, the mixture is stirred again and again. The addition of a little stone meal helps against the strong smell that the liquid manure develops. After fermentation, the liquid manure is filtered through a sieve and sprayed onto the fruit trees in early summer.

Nematodes Nematodes
have proven to be a very effective and biological agent. When used specifically, these tiny nematodes are able to destroy 70% to 90% of the fruit maggots. From the end of September they are applied to the moistened fruit tree using a brush or a squirt bottle. In general, damp weather conditions, such as spray rain or fog, promote the effectiveness of this control measure. The outside temperature should not fall below 8 ° Celsius during the process and in the hours afterwards. The nematodes immediately search for the larvae of the codling moth and kill them.

In numerous reports from hobby gardeners about the successful control of codling moths , a product is highlighted again and again. The organic spray Granupom is not dangerous to bees and has proven itself to get rid of fruit maggots in apples and pears. It is important to wear protective clothing, gloves, rubber boots and safety glasses when using the product. The prescribed dosage must be strictly adhered to. Before buying the product, it is wise to consult the federal phytosanitary database to see if Granupom is still allowed, as the regulations change frequently.

Chemical sharpening agents for the hobby garden are not allowed

Industrial sharpening agents are not permitted for use in the private sector. In any case, they are only effective in combating codling moths if they are sprayed exactly in the short period in which the larvae make their way to the fruits. Given the abundance of biological means to get rid of maggots, chemistry in this regard plays only a role in commercial fruit growing at best. The federal plant protection database regularly publishes which pesticides are allowed in the hobby garden.

Since the codling moth are among the largest fruit pests of all, a corresponding number of experts and gardeners have dealt with methods of combating them. The result is an abundance of procedures, all of which work on a biological basis. The whole range of advice, tips and hints extends from the targeted prevention already during the winter to the most diverse control methods in the spring and summer. There is no question that it takes more or less time and money to get rid of the fruit maggots for good; However, it must be remembered that the reward consists of a rich harvest of healthy, tasty, fresh fruits.

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