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Cultural Control

cartoon half apple, control tactics

Cultural Control:

Orchard sanitation and proper bin management are examples of direct pest removal while netting and bagging fruit are exclusion tactics. Practicing even one of them will help reduce codling moth populations.

Managing your Bin Piles for Increased Codling Moth Control

Written by Matthew Jones, Entomology Research Assistant Professor and WSU-DAS Manager, WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee, WA Nov 2020.

Codling moth larvae that will overwinter leave the fruit in the fall, around harvest, and seek overwintering sites. Once they find a location, they spin a protective hibernaculum (cocoon) that provides shelter until spring when the larvae pupate and develop into adults. These shelters usually occur within the rough bark of the tree or on orchard floor debris However, bins used during harvest are known to harbor diapausing codling moth larvae. The larvae enter the bins during the time leading up to harvest when the bins are in the orchard. Higbee et al. (2001) found that larvae frequently used surface irregularities on wood bins or bored short tunnels (2-4 cm) into the wood for pupation. No evidence of excavation in plastic bins was observed, but larvae would colonize the open areas between the structural fins located on the underside of the bins. To summarize, codling moth larvae colonize harvest bins made of wood far more often than plastic.

Why is this important?

Codling moth larvae developing in bins are important for 2 main reasons:

  1. Bins are frequently moved to different locations, so moths can be spread from or into an infested orchard block.
  2. Larvae developing in bin piles can disrupt monitoring and management of codling moth.  Depending on where within the bin pile moths are developing, individuals will experience different temperatures, driving them to develop at different rates. Lower bins remain colder, causing slower moth development and later emergence. Delayed moth emergence from bins creates overlapping generations that reduces the ability to spray at critical generational timings. Overlap from bins is a major reason why trap catches often do not agree with phenology models.

How to manage bins

First, using plastic bins for harvest will greatly mitigate bin infestation by codling moths. Second, sterilize bins before they go back out to orchards. While there are no materials registered for spraying bins, bins can be run through a “bin cooker” to sterilize them at the warehouse, before returning to the field. Third, minimize the number of time bins are in the orchard: i.e. do not bring them into the orchard until right before harvest. If that is not practical for your operation, construct small, separated bin piles in narrow lines to reduce the temperature insulating effect.


Higbee, B. S., Calkins, C. O., & Temple, C. A. (2001). Overwintering of codling moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) larvae in apple harvest bins and subsequent moth emergence. Journal of Economic Entomology94(6), 1511-1517.


Matthew Jones
Research Assistant Professor
Manager/Educator WSU Decision Aid System
TFREC, Wenatchee, WA

Biological Control

While using biological controls exclusively for codling moth control is not recommended, it is critically important to minimizing outbreaks and maintaining lower populations of other pests. Like codling moth, we need to know the biology, ecology, and modeling of natural enemies.

Video Resources

Orchard Sanitation

Orchard sanitation includes the use of tree banding and removing infested apples. While successful, they can be laborious. Washington state industry expert Mark LePierre shares his experience to ensure success.


Bin Management

For decades, we have known that wooden bins are a site where codling moth can overwinter. Therefore bin management must consider the effect on IPM. Industry expert Brad Higbee shares his research and experience to minimize codling moth outbreaks around bin piles.



Netting is commonly used for sun and wind protection, but it can also be used to exclude insects from an orchard. Adrian Marshall shares research and expertise on how to implement netting for IPM.


Other Resources

Codling Moth and BMSB Management without Disrupting Biocontrol
Recorded presentation from WSU-OSU Pear IPM Webinar on December 2, 2020, hosted by Chris Strohm and Tianna DuPont, WSU Extension

Monitoring and Conserving Earwigs in Washington State Apple Orchards
By Robert Orpet, Washington State University, Department of Entomology



Use pesticides with care. Apply them only to plants, animals, or sites listed on the labels. When mixing and applying pesticides, follow all label precautions to protect yourself and others around you. It is a violation of the law to disregard label directions. If pesticides are spilled on skin or clothing, remove clothing and wash skin thoroughly. Store pesticides in their original containers and keep them out of the reach of children, pets, and livestock.

YOU ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO FOLLOW THE LABEL. It is a legal document. Always read the label before using any pesticide. You, the grower, are responsible for safe pesticide use. Trade (brand) names are provided for your reference only. No discrimination is intended, and other pesticides with the same active ingredient may be suitable. No endorsement is implied.



Codling Moth Management Site Map


Washington State University