A properly planted apple tree can be a great source of pride and fruit for the home gardener. It can also be a source of agony if thorough pest management is not practiced.
If left untreated, some common pests, including coddling moth, apple maggots and aphids can cause serious damage to apple trees. Fortunately, home owners can control the pests with or without chemicals and avoid injury to or loss of fruit.
Get rid of coddling moth by applying an insecticide. Fill a pump garden sprayer, or motorized sprayer for larger trees, with the liquid. Apply a fine mist of spray to the tree. Watch for some of the liquid to run off, an indicator that an adequate amount has been sprayed.
Apply the spray after a tree's petal fall. Continue to treat an apple tree during the summer at 10- to 14-day intervals.
Thin the apple fruit as a non-chemical means of controlling coddling moth. Look for apples that show signs of coddling moth activity. (Reddish circles or "stings" on the fruit's flesh are an early indicator of the pest. Advanced activity of the coddling moth is apparent by the presence of brown frass [manure], which the caterpillars produce.) Gather and discard any apples that exhibit these characteristics.
Trap apple maggots with red sticky spheres. Hang a minimum of six spheres on the outer branches of a tree just before the adult pest is expected to emerge. (Contact your local County Extension Service, as the date will vary from area to area.) Place the spheres on a sturdy stem about 12 inches above a cluster of fruit. Inspect the spheres two to three times a week and remove flies from the spheres.
Control aphid outbreaks on apple trees by using insecticidal soap. Fill a garden sprayer with insecticidal soap and spray liberally onto the apple tree. Thoroughly spray any pests that are visible. Apply the soap during the early morning or early evening to allow for slow drying.