Codling Moth

Codling Moth

Cydia pomonella

Affected Plants:

Apple, Apricot, Pear, Quince, Mango, Guava

Damage Type:

Depositing eggs on fruit

Physical Characteristics:

Small, grayish moths; larvae are white or pink caterpillars with a brown head.

Control Method:

Fenthion, Cypermethrin

Environmental Impact:

High impact on non-target insects

Organic/Natural Control:

Pheromone traps, handpicking

About this pest

Codling Moth: The Apple’s Enemy in South African Orchards

The Codling Moth, a seemingly unassuming brown moth, can spell disaster for South African apple and pear growers. These tiny terrors tunnel into fruits, leaving behind a trail of destruction and economic losses. Let’s explore their world to understand the why and how:

Physical Characteristics:

  • Adults: Roughly 12-18mm wingspan, mottled grey-brown wings with metallic coppery bands on males.
  • Eggs: Flat, disc-shaped, about 1mm wide, initially white and turning reddish before hatching.
  • Larvae: White or pink caterpillars with dark brown heads, growing up to 15mm long before pupation.
  • Movement: Adults are nocturnal, flying at dusk and dawn. Larvae burrow within fruits.

Common South African Names:

  • Appelvrugmot (Afrikaans) – Apple fruit moth
  • Peerboomvrugmot (Afrikaans) – Pear fruit moth
  • Kodlingmot (Afrikaans) – Codling moth (less common)

Why is the Codling Moth a Pest?

  • Fruit borer: Larvae tunnel into apples, pears, and some other fruits, causing internal rot and spoiling the fruit, leading to significant economic losses.
  • Multiple generations: Females can lay hundreds of eggs, and several generations can occur in a single season, increasing damage potential.
  • Difficult to control: Their nocturnal habits and burrowing behavior make them challenging to target with insecticides.

Combatting the Codling Moth:

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Combining multiple methods for a sustainable approach.

    • Monitoring: Use pheromone traps to track moth activity and determine timing for control measures.
    • Sanitation: Remove fallen and infested fruits to reduce larval survival and egg-laying sites.

Organic controls:

    • Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt): A bacterium targeting caterpillars, safe for other insects and humans.
    • Kaolin clay: Sprayed on fruits, creates a physical barrier against egg-laying and larval entry.

Chemical control: Use insecticides registered for codling moth control as a last resort due to environmental and other insect impacts.

    • Mating disruption: Pheromone dispensers confuse males, disrupting mating and reducing egg production.


  • Early detection and prompt action are crucial to manage codling moth populations effectively.
  • Combine natural and organic methods whenever possible for a sustainable approach.
  • Seek professional advice from agricultural extension services or pest control specialists for specific recommendations based on your location and orchard practices.

By understanding the codling moth and adopting a comprehensive control strategy, South African apple and pear growers can protect their precious fruits and secure a bountiful harvest.

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