Wakefield Estate Takes on the Winter Moth; Begins to Test Different Non-Toxic Control Strategies


Have you noticed all the moths flying in front of your car’s headlights on some of the more balmy evenings recently? These are winter moths (Operophtera brumata) and as many of you know, this pest has been responsible for widespread defoliation for most of the last decade.  Equally problematic, in its larval stage, the moth crawls into unopened buds of many early blooming trees, especially fruit trees and maples. Without blooms, fruit trees will not produce fruit. The winter moth infestation has caused significant damage at the Wakefield Estate, especially in the orchard.


This year, we are beginning to use some non-chemical control methods and will monitor their effectiveness over the course of the next six months. In the fall, we are using a type of sticky bands on a portion of our fruit trees. These bands collect the virtually wingless female winter moth as she is climbing the tree trunk to deposit her eggs. Research by UMass Extension has revealed that there are often 1-2000 females per tree, and each lays 150 eggs translating to 150,000 eggs per tree!

As our tree taping is limited, we will also need to use an organic spray in the spring to further combat the problem.

Picture: Landscape Supervisor Erica Max inspects a sticky band for the female moths, shown at the left. For more information on the winter moth, click here.



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