Pheromone traps should not be a threat to wildlife

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For some years before Agralan launched codling moth traps into the home and garden market they had been widely used in commercial orchards for monitoring, so initially the same design of trap was used.

As use in the garden increased, an instance of a bird getting entangled in the glue was reported, causing considerable upset to the gardener concerned. The first of these instances was reported to us by the RSPCA. After consultation with the RSPCA and the RSPB, who agreed that the use of these traps had positive benefits to wildlife, we re-designed the trap to minimise the risk to birds..

A new design of trap with restricted opening was then trialled to compare the efficacy with the old trap. These trials were successful and after further consultation with the RSPB the trap was modified. Now the instances of birds being caught now are rare and are usually caused by the gardener not following the instructions or where a dying fledgling blue tit had managed to crawl into the trap.

The risk to birds has now been reintroduced by a company selling pheromone traps using the old design. It is our fear that the instances of birds being caught will rise significantly. This will result in a number of upset gardeners who will in turn blame the retailers who supply the product and cause adverse publicity which will reflect on the use of pheromone traps in general. This may in turn cause an upturn in use of insecticides in the garden which will reduce the food supply of certain types of wildlife.

We feel that it is important that retailers and gardeners should be aware of this potential problem.

What is a codling Moth Trap?

The major cause of maggot damage to apples and pears is the caterpillar of the Codling Moth. This trap provides a warning as to if and when control measures are needed.

The Codling Moth Trap uses the 'Pheromone' scent of the female moth to attract and catch male moths. Control of this pest in the garden is very difficult using insecticides unless they are applied shortly after egg-laying

When to use the Trap
In most seasons moths fly and mate on warm nights from late May until the end of July, although in some years activity may continue well into August. The trap should be placed in the garden soon after the middle of May. If spring weather is exceptionally warm, or in sheltered urban gardens, it may be an advantage to have the traps installed by early May. If in doubt, hang the trap after the petals begin to fall.

How to use the Trap
Assemble the trap. Place sticky insert sticky side up in the base of the trap. The pheromone lure (which looks like a hollow cone of soft rubber) should be removed from the foil sachet and laid in the centre of the sticky insert. Ensure that the end flaps are secured.

Note: The lure will release scent from when the sachet is opened - do not open sachet until the lure is needed.

In a garden one trap should monitor up to 5 average size trees with a range of 15 metres (50 feet) of the trap. It should be hung at around head height on the windward side of the tree (or group of trees).

After 5 Weeks - replace the sticky insert and lure. Inspect the trap regularly - the Codling Moth is small (about 8mm or 1/3rd inch long) dark coloured and rests with its wings folded to form a triangular shape.

If you are catching more than 15 moths per week the infestation is high and a suitable spray should be applied a week later. Continue monitoring and if again 15 or more moths are caught repeat the treatment.

Remove the trap by the beginning of September and dispose of the lure and sticky insert. The trap should be cleaned and stored. Refill Kits are available allowing the trap to be used for a second season.

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Author: Julie Brandreth

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