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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 natural methods you can try, but we’ll be focusing on 16 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 or leaves, and when the larvae hatch, they burrow into the fruit, making it unmarketable.

The adult moths are easy to identify. They have a gray colored body with a wingspan of about 12 to 20 mm. The larvae are small and cream to pink in color with brown heads.

Codling moth eggs appear translucent at first 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 tree trunks or other affected plants to help trap the moth larvae. You can also pick off the infested fruits by hand.

Below is a comprehensive list of the different natural remedies you can try.

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:

Applied properly, beneficial nematodes will enter the larvae of the codling moth and kill them. 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 codling moths, 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 the moths are 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.

Get a gallon plastic milk jug and pour in two cups of apple cider vinegar and half a cup of molasses. Add water to fill up the rest of the jug.

Cut two holes 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

Used as an organic pesticide, spinosad 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. But it’s important to follow the instructions on the label for the best results.

4. Kaolin Clay

Kaolin clay can be used directly on the fruit to create a barrier that prevents codling moths from laying their eggs there and eating from the fruit.

Kaolin clay is also effective at repelling other pests, like thrips and Colorado potato beetles, so it’s a great product to have on hand.

Our recommended brand is Surround WP.

5. Birds

Birds can also be an effective organic codling moth control method that 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. Many birds will happily fly in to eat these treats.

While they are in the area, some of the birds will also go after 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 moths. When the wasp larvae hatch, it then kills the moth’s egg embryo.

You can buy these tiny parasitic wasps. Or, you can make efforts to 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 limit the pests’ habitat.

8. Corrugated Cardboard Banding

One of the easiest ways to trap codling moths is to wrap corrugated cardboard around the tree trunks. This will provide an attractive nesting spot for the larvae to spin their cocoons.

Once the cocoons are in place, remove the pieces of cardboard and destroy them.

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. You can also 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 and apply it to the affected areas using a spray bottle.

The smell of neem oil spray will deter the moths. It will also smother and kill the eggs if sprayed directly on them.

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 also 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 contains pyrethrins and azadirachtin, making it 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. Plants that repel condling moths include tansy, nasturtiums, and lavender.

Planting these plants in the area can 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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