No More Coddling the Proverbial Worm in the
Apple By Dennis
June 2, 1997
The codling moth, the most destructive insect pest of apples and
pears worldwide, is being controlled in the western U.S.--and with less
pesticides. The key is a coordinated attack over areas covering up to 1,000
acres and with 35 growers participating. The main tactic: using the
insects own sex drive to thwart its reproduction.
Previously growers relied mainly on pesticides. Now the principal
tool is a synthetic sex pheromone, a chemical mimic of the female insects
natural sex attractant. On fruit trees, growers hang tiny dispensers that emit
the fake pheromone. It so confuses male moths that most never find a female for
mating. The technology--mating disruption--was developed by scientists with
Agricultural Research Service.
With no controls, codling moths could destroy an estimated 80
percent of the Northwests apple crop and 50 percent of the pears. And one
worm--the moths larval stage--is more than consumers want to find in
fruit they buy.
The codling moth effort is an areawide integrated pest management
(IPM) program. It is the first of two now underway, and ARS plans more to
support USDAs goal of having 75 percent of U.S. cropland under IPM by the
year 2000. Some growers in the codling moth program reduced insecticide use by
70 percent. Others plan using no insecticide this summer, saving up to $150 per
acre. Reduced pesticides also allow populations of the moths natural
enemies to build and help keep them in check.
ARS cooperators are Washington State University, Oregon
State University, University of California at Berkeley, Washington Tree Fruit
Research Commission, farm advisors, Washington Apple Commission, and Winter
Pear Control Committee. They continue to refine the areawide IPM program at 10
research sites in Washington, Oregon and California.
A feature story about the project appears in the May issue of ARS
Agricultural Research magazine. The story also is on the World
Scientific contact: Carrol O. Calkins, USDA-ARS
Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, Wapato, Wash., phone (509) 454-6565,
fax (509) 454-5646, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.