New pest threatens apple orchards

Okanagan orchardists are trying to wrap their minds around another new pest that could be devastating to apple trees.

Apple clearwing moth

There’s another a new insect pest of apple trees that’s moved into the Central Okanagan.

The first apple clearwing moth appeared in orchards in the Similkameen in 2005 and today that area is generally infested with the borer that damages trees by feeding under the bark during the larvae stage.

Entomologist Gary Judd, a research scientist at the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland says he conducted a comprehensive study in orchards from the border to Salmon Arm last summer, trapping in every block of orchard. From those results, he created maps showing the pest’s presence and in what numbers.

It shows that areas like Rutland and Ellison are pretty well infested with the new pest, while there are few in West Kelowna and Mission, for instance.

The maps are available on the website of the Sterile Insect Release program at:

The extent of its spread was a surprise, he admits. He speculates they must move on vehicles or in trees that are being moved.

“Soon it will be everywhere,” he says.

In orchards where it hasn’t yet been identified, growers should monitor for it by hanging traps, and if there are 1 to 50 moths in a trap, mating disruption is available to control it.

However, it’s better done by groups than by individual orchardists, he said, since it can easily fly to nearby orchards.

When levels get too high, mating disruption is not very effective and growers should plan on spraying the trunk of each tree with an approved pesticide to keep them under control.

He says it’s difficult to assess the economic impact of the new pest. Some growers are very alarmed and they’re seeing the damage on their trees, but he says others aren’t seeing much damage.

Ideally, prevention would be as simple as not bringing material in from an infested area, and it’s suspected that’s how the clearwing moth arrived in North America.

At last Friday’s SIR board meeting in Kelowna, the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association appealed to the board for help in conducting area-wide monitoring and control.

However, the board said it’s too late this year, but that if growers want assistance next year, they must let the SIR board know by the end of this year.

BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas said the industry is preparing a funding request to implement a three-year, area-wide pilot project, in cooperation with the SIR program to evaluate the effectiveness of mating disruption for control, so extra staff can be hired.

He said growers are encouraged to examine area maps to see if it’s in their area, and to use mating disruption dispensers to control it.

Judd said backyard apple trees are just as susceptible, but he didn’t think they would become a source of re-infection of commercial orchards as is the danger with codling moth.

In fact, he said backyard trees are generally not dwarf trees, and the big ones aren’t affected as much, so homeowners likely won’t notice damage from clearwing moth.



Just Posted

Kelowna golf course ready and open for spring business

Two Eagles Golf Course opened Saturday, more to come

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA hopes annual climb will promote peace

MLA Norm Letnick’s 5th Annual Spring Climb for Health & World Peace is April 6

Possible assault to bus driver in Kelowna

A minor bus crash was reported just after 8 p.m. Friday night

Car crash nearly sends car over embankment in West Kelowna

RCMP search for driver of alleged stolen vehicle that caused crash

Update: Highway 3 reopened following rockslide near Keremeos

The slide occurred Friday March 22, at about 8 p.m. between Red Bridge and Standing Rock

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Okanagan woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Letter: Stop raising the minimum wage

To the editor: The government is looking for ways to put more… Continue reading

Letter: Immigration will not help other countries, or our own

To the editor: Firearms are not the culprit in all those massive… Continue reading

Letter: Sprawl destroying natural landscape

To the editor: I agree with the assessment by Ian Pooley in… Continue reading

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Most Read