Even Healthy Trees Wear “Hairnets”
Without protection, locally growing apples and pears are at high risk of damage from apple maggot fly and codling moth, invasive pests in the PNW. City Fruit has developed and tested a few organic methods of pest prevention that work as a barrier and look a little bit like “hairnets” and keep the bugs out of the fruit! Get connected with the tools you need to succeed this season and you can help Save Seattle’s Apples too! These techniques should be installed when “fruitlets” are the size of a dime and completed before the end of May (for apples) or June (for pears).
A perfect option for small trees, lightly waxed paper barrier bags should be secured to each individual fruitlet with a twist tie once they are the size of a dime.
- “Thin” your fruitlets first! Remove excess fruitlets by twisting or snipping them off so each one is spaced 6 inches apart (allowing for growth).
- Slip “baggie” over remaining fruitlets and secure to stem with a twist tie.
- Keep the baggies on until harvest or remove them one week before harvesting to deepen the fruit color if you like.
- Baggies are food grade quality and compostable!
See the blog post “Save Seattle’s Apples Baggie Guide” for more tips.
You can find waxed paper bags locally at food service supply stores including Cash and Carry (sold in bulk, #19, SKU#80557). Here are some online options:
A better solution for bigger trees with a large fruit harvest. Hail netting and mosquito netting work well for protecting your fruit tree from pest damage.
Hail or bee netting typically has holes about 6.8 x 1.6 mm. This mesh size will keep out codling moth, apple maggot fly, and brown marmorated stink bug, common pests of apples and pears. Hail netting is very sturdy, does not ravel, and will last at least six years. The mesh is not small enough to keep out fruit fly-type insects.
Mosquito nets can be used keep out spotted wing drosophila and other fruit flies on cherries and plums, and they can also be used to keep out codling moth and apple maggot fly. Mosquito netting has holes smaller than 1.5 mm in size and comes in different colors and shapes, and is relatively inexpensive. It is, however, less sturdy and can tear easily, and will deteriorate due to sun exposure over time. The maximum height of trees that you can cover with the very largest mosquito bed nets is about 8’ tall.
- Measure the height and spread (widest width) of your tree
- Figure out the best netting size for you based on the Tree Netting Calculation Guide
- “Thin” your fruitlets first! Remove excess fruitlets by twisting them off so each one is spaced 6 inches apart (allowing for growth).
- Grab a friend (or two), lay the netting flat in front of your tree, and secure the two front corners to bamboo poles with a loose knot
- Use the bamboo poles to hoist the net over top of the tree and lift and pull it down so it drapes evenly on all sides
- Secure netting to the trunk of the tree with a soft tie like a rubber innertube and use twist ties to secure any gaps in the netting
- Leave it on until harvest! (Remove any fallen fruit caught in the net throughout the season)
- Shake out the leaves, fold and tie it up and store for next year!
See the document “How to Net Your Tree” for more netting tips.
See the blog post “Tree Netting Guide” for more info on how to select the right netting for your tree.
- Amazon.com Mitef – anti-hail netting
- Amazon.com SHANS – anti-hail netting, insect netting
- Ag Fabric– Garden netting – insect netting
- GreenHouseMegastore.com– anti-hail netting, Anti-insect netting (25 or 40 mesh)
- Amazon.com Ag Fabric– anti-hail netting, wide variety of sizes
- Amazon.com– mosquito netting for camping
- Amazon.com – mosquito netting for bed canopy
- Military Surplus – mosquito netting
- Dick’s Sporting Goods – mosquito netting
- Walmart – mosquito netting
Local Vendors: Inquire in store
Have questions? Need help with the net?
If you have questions regarding pest prevention methods, send them to City Fruit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got your net but need help installing? Then fill out the Tree Care Service Interest Form HERE. Installation service is only available for trees up to 10′ x 10′.