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16 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Codling Moths

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16 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Codling Moths

You’ve probably seen them before—those pesky codling moths that seem to invade your fruit tree every year. Well, this year you can get rid of them naturally without resorting to synthetic pesticides.

There are a lot of different methods you can try, but we’ll be focusing on 17 of them. Keep reading for more information on how to control codling moths using natural remedies.


Codling moths can be a major problem for apple and pear growers [1]. These pests lay eggs on the fruit, and when the larvae hatch, they burrow into the fruit, making it unmarketable.

The adult moths are easy to identify. They have a grayish-brown body with a wingspan of about 12 to 20 mm. The larvae are small and white (or light pink) with dark brown heads.

Codling moth eggs look like tiny, translucent pancakes, and they can be difficult to spot. You’ll find them on leaves and fruits.

How to Get Rid of Codling Moths Naturally

If you think you have a codling moth infestation, there are several natural ways to deal with the issue.

One is to place a band around apple trees or other affected plants to help capture and kill adult moths and moth worms. You can also pick off the infested fruits by hand.

Below is a comprehensive list of the different DIY remedies and organic solutions.

1. Beneficial Nematodes

You may have heard of beneficial nematodes—tiny, soil-dwelling creatures that are effective at controlling certain garden pests. Here’s a little more information about how they work:

Beneficial nematodes enter the larvae of the codling moth and kill them. As the nematodes feed on the larvae, they release bacteria that are fatal to the pests.

Best of all, these tiny creatures are non-toxic to plants, people, and pets, and they are 100% organic. If you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly way to deal with the problem, beneficial nematodes may be the answer for you.

Moreover, you can easily acquire them online or at certain garden centers.

2. Moth Traps

There are many types of moth traps available, like this one and this one. These work by releasing a scent that attracts male moths. However, the most commonly used are those that use pheromones to attract the moths.

Pheromones are chemicals that mimic the scent of the female moth, which the male moth uses to find her. When the male moth detects the pheromone, he flies towards it and ends up getting trapped in the trap.

Use these traps to lure the moths in and kill them. Once they’re drawn in, they can’t escape, and eventually they die.

Alternatively, make some homemade codling moth traps. These traps can be used to catch male and female moths.

Fill up a gallon plastic milk jug by adding two cups of apple cider vinegar and half a cup of molasses. Add water to fill up the rest of the jug.

Cut a hole in the jug so you can hang it up in a tree. Make more than one of these, as you’ll need about three traps per tree.

3. Spinosad

This organic pesticide is made from the fermentation of naturally occurring soil bacteria. It is effective at killing codling moths and other pests. It’s also non-toxic to people and pets, making it a safer option than many chemical pesticides.

You can use Spinosad in a number of ways, including as a spray, dust, or pour-on. It’s important to follow the instructions on the label for the best results.

4. Kaolin Clay

This is a soft, white clay that can be used directly on the trees to create a barrier that repels codling moths.

Kaolin clay is also effective at repelling other pests, like thrips and Colorado potato beetles, so it’s a great choice if you’re having problems with more than one type of insect.

This is our recommended brand.

5. Birds

Birds are another effective organic codling moth control method you can make use of.

Attract birds to your garden or orchard by putting up a bird feeder and filling it with a mix of seeds and nuts.

The birds will fly in to eat the treats. They will also eat the moths and their eggs, helping to reduce the population in your yard and garden.

6. Trichogramma Wasps

These tiny parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside the eggs of codling moths, which then kill the caterpillars before they can hatch.

You can buy these tiny parasites. Or, you can attract them with plants such as catnip, sage, and peppermint [2].

7. Pick Up and Discard Fallen Fruits

One of the simplest things you can do to help prevent codling moths from taking over is to pick up and discard any fallen fruits.

This will help keep the pests from multiplying. It will also make the area around your fruit trees less attractive to them.

8. Cardboard

One of the easiest ways to trap codling moths is to use cardboard. All you need to do is cut a broad strip of cardboard that is long enough to wrap around the tree.

This will provide an attractive nesting spot for the moth worms to spin their cocoons.

9. Neem Oil

Neem oil has a number of excellent properties, including being an effective insecticide, fungicide, and repellent.

You can buy the concentrate and apply it following the instructions, or you can buy the pure oil and make a DIY codling moth spray.

To use neem oil for codling moths, simply combine one tablespoon of the oil, one teaspoon of liquid soap, and a gallon of water.

Shake well, apply it to the affected areas using a spray bottle, and let it soak in.

It is effective against the moths and will also smother and kill the eggs. You should start to see a difference within a few days.

10. Fruit Bagging

Another simple but time-consuming home remedy to control codling moths organically is to bag each fruit. When the fruit is still green on the tree, put a bag over it.

However, make sure to check the bag often to see the development of the fruit once harvest nears. Once the fruit is ripe, you can pick it, wash it, and enjoy it as you like.

11. Pick Off Larvae and Cocoons

One of the first steps to tackling the problem is to pick off codling moth larvae and cocoons from the tree as soon as you see them.

Scrape off cocoons from tree bark and dispose of them in a sealed bag, or just squish them. Also, pick off larvae-infested fruits and dispose of them.

12. Clean-Up Orchard

It’s important to clean up your orchard after the codling moth infestation has been dealt with. This will help to get rid of any eggs that may have been left behind.

Removing infested fruits will also help prevent future infestations.

13. Azera Gardening

Azera Gardening is an organic insecticide. The product that contains pyrethrins and azadirachtin is a great choice for dealing with these pests.

It’s also safe to use on fruit trees and other plants. Plus, it’s non-toxic, so it won’t harm the environment or your family or pets.

14. Bacillus thuringiensis v. kurstaki (Btk)

You can also use Bacillus thuringiensis v. kurstaki (Btk) to control the critters. This bacterium is deadly to caterpillar pests.

You can buy Btk in powder or liquid form, and it’s easy to use. Just apply it according to the instructions in areas where you’ve seen these pests.

It will kill codling moth caterpillars that come into contact with it.

15. Arber Bio Insecticide

The Arber Bio Insecticide is made with an active ingredient that poisons these pests. Moreover, you can use it on vegetables, fruit trees, tropical plants, and more.

It works on both soil-dwelling and foliage-feeding pests.

16. Repellent Plants

There are also a few plants that act as natural deterrents to codling moths, including tansy, nasturtiums, and lavender. Planting these will help minimize codling moth problems.


As you can see, there are a few different ways to protect your plants from codling moth damage. You can use traps, natural predators, or sprays.

No matter which method you choose, stay vigilant and check your trees for signs of infestation.

Image via Flickr and Flickr

Andre Campbell

Organic farmer and co-founder of Dre Campbell Farm. He appreciates everything in nature—sunshine, plants, animals, and human life.

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