Oriental fruit moths are also known as peach moths, but more than your peaches are at risk. Apple, apricot, cherry, nectarine, pear, plum, and quince trees and fruit may become infested by this invasive pest of pome and stone fruits. Originally from China, Oriental fruit moths (Grapholita molesta) are now found throughout much of the world.
Oriental fruit moth damage
Oriental fruit moth damage starts early in the growing season when newly hatched larvae burrow into leaf axils (where leaves are attached to stems). From there, they tunnel several inches into tender young twigs to feed on sap. This kills the twigs, creating ‘flags’ and can lead to a bushy appearance. As the season progresses, Oriental fruit moth larvae start feeding on the ends of established twigs (terminal growth) and developing fruit.
Boring into the fruit, they create the perfect opportunity for brown rot and other fungal diseases. Significant amounts of frass (bug poop) can usually be seen around entry holes. In apple and pear trees, this damages looks similar to codling moth and lesser appleworm damage.
Oriental fruit moth identification
Adult Oriental fruit moths are gray to grayish-brown with brown markings. They are small moths with 1/4"–1/2” wingspans. Larvae are born white and then turn pink to cream-colored. They have dark heads and grow to 1/2” long. Eggs are white and flat.
Oriental fruit moth lifecycle
Female Oriental fruit moths lay up to 200 eggs each spring. Those eggs are laid singly on the underside of leaves and on twigs and they hatch as fruit trees begin to blossom.
Oriental fruit moths overwinter as larvae in protective cocoons which may be found attached to the host tree or nearby on the ground. There can be up to seven generations each year.
Oriental fruit moth management
Checking trees regularly for signs of infestation, starting early in the season, will help keep this pest in check. Pheromone traps can be used to monitor for Oriental fruit moths and disrupt their mating. While commercial growers still rely on broad-spectrum pesticides, home growers can use less destructive insecticides, such as spinosad. Infested plant tissue should be removed and thrown in the garbage.
If their sunny yellow flowers and delicious seeds weren’t reason enough to grow sunflowers, it ends up that small stands of sunflowers will attract Macrocentrus ancylivorus, an Oriental fruit moth parasite. These helpers will also parasitize peach twig borers.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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