How we confuse our pests!

Technology. When you hear that word, your first thought is probably not farming. But be assured research and development in farming today rivals any industry! You would be amazed at the advances in science that are developed and used in agriculture today! For example, we all want more healthful food for ourselves and our children. One way to affect that is to reduce pesticide usage as much as possible. Here is one way that we do that.

You all know the old joke. “Question. What is worse that biting into an apple and finding a worm? Answer. Finding HALF a worm!” Ewww! Well how about no worms at all? This is where pheremones come in. What is a pheromone? Think of it this way. Let’s say you are told to go into a room full of people and find the person wearing Chanel No. 5. If you know the scent and use your nose, you will find the person. But if we pump the scent of Chanel No. 5 through the heating system, you will be hard pressed to find the individual because the scent will be everywhere!

One of the major pests in apples, the worm that disgusts us all, is Codling Moth. The male moths use pheremones to find female insects to mate with. The males have sensors to locate and hone in on the source of the pheromone, which is a female moth. This little moth lays its’ eggs on apples, and when the eggs hatch, well there’s your worm! This is where the science comes in. Researchers have been able to develop the Codling Moth Pheremone and apply it to a small plastic loop in a time-released formula. We can distribute enough of these loops through the orchard so that the whole “room” is filled with Chanel No. 5. Oops, I mean Codling Moth pheromone! The little males are hopelessly overloaded and they can’t find the females! So no eggs and no worms!

This week we have begun placing these loops in the orchard. We use a specially designed “wicket” and hang them near the top of the tree. They will last through the summer, and will help us reduce pesticide use. To see how our loops are performing, we place insect traps in our trees with a very strong pheromone lure to see if we can catch the male moths. If they can find the trap, they can find a female. We check these traps weekly throughout the season to monitor our success. Our experience has been excellent over the last several years. And that is just one of the ways technology helps us grow better apples!

applying loop

Hope you have a fruitful week!

Tom Moelker


2 thoughts on “How we confuse our pests!

  1. Suzanne L

    That was interesting…seems as if it’s a better and safer way to control pests.
    Certainly is high maintenance to caring for an orchard.


  2. Scott Jones

    Fortunately for us all, purposeful interruptions to the sex lives of Codling Moths aren’t illegal, otherwise pristine eating apples in the fall would be few and far between – and our cider might include added protein too.
    Quite ingenious what you do. Thanks for the inside information..


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