May Tree Care Newsletter


Codling moth trapped May 14 in Mount Baker neighborhood – it’s time to take action!

The first adult coding moths of the year have been spotted. This means that the overwintering, first generation of codling moths are flying and looking to mate and then deposit those eggs on your apple tree leaves, branches, and fruit. Yikes! NOW is the time to get the very best results from bagging or netting your tree.

Any effort you make to protect your apples from codling moth is better the earlier you do it. If you only have apple maggot fly damage, you can wait until June – 20190518_120923.jpgthey aren’t flying yet. If you only grow pears, they also can wait to be covered until June.

Many City Fruit volunteers have already netted trees in the public orchards at Meridian Playground, Good Shepherd Center, and Burke-Gilman Trail (in Wallingford.) I’ve heard from a couple of members who have put baggies on their apples. How about you?  Have you netted your tree yet? We hope to have three trees netted in each neighborhood. Are there any in yours?

We now can refer you to people who can install nets on your fruit trees. For more info email



Free baggies at garden centers in Seattle

Participating garden centers have a good supply of lightly waxed paper baggies for you to use to cover your individual apples and pears to prevent codling moth and apple maggot damage. Put on those bags when the fruit is about the size of a dime, which is NOW.



Before you cover the fruit, thin them so that you have one per cluster, and then space the apples about fist width apart.

For more details about all things pest control, see City Fruit’s Save Seattle’s Apples web page:



Winter moths – a new, devastating pest

I had heard about winter moths at Freeway Estates Community Orchard the last two winters, but hadn’t seen evidence of them in other orchards. Unfortunately, now I know only too well what winter moth damage looks like. Winter moths do not spin webby tents like tent caterpillars, though the chewing of leaves into lacy skeletons is similar. Often all that is left of a leaf or a cherry is the stem.

Typical winter moth damage.

Winter moth caterpillars have dark green stripes or sometimes are more solid lime green. They have two pair of legs in front and back so that they move like an inchworm. They spin a silky thread and drop from one branch to another and will also swing to a nearby tree. This is one good reason why you shouldn’t plant trees too close to each other. Some big trees at Meridian Playground touch branches with each other or overhang smaller trees, and the winter moth damage is worst where the trees overlap.


As of this week the winter moth damage seems to have slowed down. Winter moths emerge around Thanksgiving, so late next fall we’ll talk about what to do to avoid their damage a year from now.


Do your plum trees have a big crop?

I’m very excited to see plums on a Santa Rosa plum tree for the very first time. This tree was planted along the Burke-Gilman Trail in December 2014 and has never set a plum until now, and it has at least a dozen!

This plum is the earliest blooming plum tree in the Burke-Gilman Trail orchard, and this year I saw that when the Santa Rosa was in bloom, so was another plum tree at the marina across the street. I cut a few branches of blossoms from the other tree and tied them santa_rosa_plum_reduced.jpginto the Santa Rosa.
I learned this process when I was a kid at our family orchard; it was called “hanging bouquets.” Instead of tying a few branches in a tree, we’d save up ½ gallon milk cartons, punch a hole on each side and then tie on a piece of twine for a handle. When the day came when the trees were in bloom, we cut branches of the pollinating tree, stuck them in a milk carton about 1/2 full of water, then hung the “bouquets” in the tree that needed more pollination.
In the case of the Santa Rosa plum, hanging a few of the marina plum branches seems to have done the trick! Next year I’ll save up some milk cartons and do it right.



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