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Destructive winter moths

Operophtera brumata, commonly called the Winter Moth is an insect that can be rather destructive to fruit trees and ornamental trees. Trees commonly found with damage caused by this moth are beech, flowering cherries, cotoneaster, crab apples, dogwoods, hawthorns, sycamores and willows.

The damage is caused is caused by the female which emerges from the soil in the autumn/winter months and crawl up the trunks of the tree and lay around 200 eggs per moth. They choose to lay their eggs close to the buds and crevices on the branches and the eggs will hatch in March.  As soon as the caterpillars hatch, they feast on ripening flower buds and newly emerging leaves. This can often lead to distorted leaves and significant damage which can have serious negative effects on the trees health if left for a number of years. With fruit trees in particular, this can lead to poor fruit harvests in the long term.

The most effective way to stop the female winter moth laying her eggs is by putting a grease band fixed around the trunk of the tree. This will act as a sticky barrier which the female moth cannot move and will not be able to get to the higher branches and lay her destructive eggs. This is a great and relatively safe treatment as no toxic insecticides or chemicals are used and it’s more about disrupting the breeding cycle of the moth, using non-hazardous techniques.

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