Codling Moth

Codling moth caterpillar larvae damage fruit such as apples, pears, stone fruit and walnuts.

Identify the problem Identify the problem

Codling moth adults are grey with light grey and pale brown stripes on their wings. Females lay eggs on fruit or leaves and the black-headed yellow caterpillars eat into the fruit soon after hatching. Each larva burrows into the fruit, feeds on the fruit pulp and seeds for approximately three weeks before exiting to overwinter and pupate elsewhere.

Visible damage occurs to fruit when the young codling moth caterpillars burrow through the skin. In apples they can consume the seeds and much of the core. Codling moth are prone to attack apples, pears, stone fruit and walnuts.

Warmer areas of New Zealand usually have two generations of codling moth each year, and cooler areas just one. They usually appear October through to February.


To get rid of codling moth follow these steps:

  • Most apple cultivars are attractive to codling moth and so need regular protection to prevent fruit damage. Sprays should be applied when a significant number of codling moths are active in the tree and not before petal fall. Use codling moth traps and monitor these for catches. Time you application of Organic Insect Control to start 8-10 days after catching moths. Best applied late in the day
  • Affected fruit still on trees should be removed and destroyed. Also remove and destroy affected windfall fruits. Although most caterpillars will have left the fruit before fall some may still harbour the pest.
  • Trapping to monitor codling moths allows spray application to be more effectively timed.
  • Organic Insect Control will kill codling moth caterpillars but only when they are on the exterior of the fruit. The caterpillars would be protected once they are within the fruit.

Did You Know Did You Know

  • Codling moth larvae are the "worm in the apple" that is referred to in many books, but it is not a worm.
  • The scientific name of codling moth is - Cydia pomonella.

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