Even though there is no fruit left on the trees, City Fruit is still busy working in the orchards in preparation for next year’s harvest. This month, we are hosting a series of work parties to protect our apple trees from winter moth damage.
Winter moth is an invasive pest that feeds on buds and leaves in the spring, leaving nothing to fruit on the tree. They are still new to our area, and we first saw the extensive damage caused by winter moths in Seattle just two seasons ago. That year, the damage was so devastating that there was hardly any fruit to harvest in some of the orchards that we care for, including Jose Rizal Park which has seen the worst of the damage from these pests.
Now we are working with Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Urban Food Systems Program to protect the apple trees in some of the public orchards. The technique is simple, yet effective and does not involve pesticides – we wrap a paper material band around the tree trunk and smear a non-toxic sticky substance on the band to trap female moths before they climb up the tree to mate and lay eggs during the winter months. This is our second year implementing this pest prevention strategy, and you can see the tape on the trees work for yourself next time you are strolling through one of the orchards that we manage. We plan to monitor the effectiveness of this method and collect data in the coming months, so we can better protect our precious apple trees!