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Codling Moth Task Force Formed

Written by Louie Nottingham, Research Assistant Professor, WSU TFREC, Wenatchee, WA Nov 2020.

Split image showing an adult moth sitting on a young fruitlet at the top nd the characteristic wormhole surrounded by a red pigmented area on a Golden Delicious fruit.
Fig. 1. (Top) Codling moth adult. (Bottom) Exit hole from codling moth larva.

Problem Statement

Codling moth (Figure 1) has been the key pest of pome fruits across the growing regions of Washington and Oregon for over a hundred years. During that time, pest management programs regularly evolved as key pesticides were phased out and new technology was incorporated. As we continue to adapt to new situations, there is a need to synthesize and evaluate past and current codling moth research and management recommendations, and to communicate that information to stakeholders. The Codling Moth Task Force was created in September of 2020 to take the lead in this issue.

Task Force Members

The Codling Moth Task Force consists of 29 members including growers, researchers, extension specialists, and other industry representatives. It is led by Dr. Christopher Adams, Professor of Entomology at Oregon State University, along with an executive committee including Dr. Elizabeth Beers (Washington State University), Michael Doerr (Wilbur Ellis), Dr. David Epstein (Northwest Horticultural Council), and Dr. Louis Nottingham (Washington State University).

Panel of portrait images of the task force executive committee.
Codling Moth Task Force Executive Committee: Left to right: Christopher Adams (OSU), Elizabeth Beers (WSU), Michael Doerr (Wilbur-Ellis), David Epstein (Northwest Horticultural Council), Louis Nottingham (WSU).

Recent History and Creation of the Task Force

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the pome fruit industry underwent a dramatic change in production practices beginning with the registration of mating disruption in 1990. Two multi-state, multi-institution USDA Areawide projects encouraged widespread adoption of mating disruption, and reduced the use of organophosphate (OP) insecticides and the need for control of secondary pests. Aiding in this adoption was the development and refinement of phenology (degree-day) models and pheromone trap monitoring. With the planned phase-out of azinphosmethyl (Guthion) in 2012, the Pest Management Transition Project was started to help growers learn to use the new OP-alternative products. For the first time, growers had a selection of active ingredients (diamides, spinosyns, neonicotinyls, IGRs) to practice insecticide rotation for resistance management, still using mating disruption as the foundation of the IPM program. Phenology, timing, and spray recommendation are now gathered in a single resource, the Decision Aid System, or DAS (

The adoption of mating disruption has provided stable codling moth control for nearly thirty years. However, this successful control coupled with the lack of new insecticides or tactics led to a decline in research and extension focus on this pest. In recent years, reports of increased codling moth pressure are becoming more frequent, so it is time to renew our focus on this key pest. This task force aims to promote training on basic biology, monitoring, and management techniques; identify challenges to control; and encourage new research and extension initiatives that will move the industry forward.

First Step – Industry Survey

A first and critical step in this process is to characterize industry practices for codling moth control, with the aim of better understanding why problems are (or are not) occurring. An industry-wide survey will be circulated to identify the primary challenges experienced by growers and variables associated with poor codling moth control. The survey will be disseminated at the winter meetings of 2020/2021. The Task Force strongly encourages growers and other stakeholders to participate in this survey to help identify the most important issues and establish priorities.


Louis Nottingham
Research Assistant Professor
WSU TFREC Wenatchee
phone: 509-293-8756 articles may only be republished with prior author permission © Washington State University. Republished articles with permission must include: “Originally published by Washington State Tree Fruit Extension Fruit Matters at” along with author(s) name, and a link to the original article.

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