In autumn and winter, female winter moths climb into fruit trees, ready to lay eggs and cause problems in spring. In summer, ants 'farm' aphids in fruit trees. Both of these pest problems can be solved without resorting to chemicals, by applying grease/ glue bands to fruit trees. These bands prevent crawling insects from climbing trees.
- Choose your goo. Two products are available that do the same job - tree grease and insect glue. Both products are available in tubes and can be applied directly to the trunk of trees that are over 4 years old. On younger trees, they can be applied to paper strips that are tied to the tree trunk. Insect glue is also available as ready-to-use glue bands that are tied onto the tree trunk.
- Apply to the tree. To control winter moths, the grease/glue should be applied in September. A fresh band can be applied in spring to prevent ants climbing into the tree in summer.
- Apply to any stakes. If the tree has a supporting stake then you will need to apply a band to the stake as well. Otherwise the pests will simply climb the stake and transfer to the tree where it is held onto the stake.
- Monitor. Keep an eye on the bands to ensure that they provide a complete ring around the trunk and do not need re-applying (tree grease can dry out and become ineffective). Also ensure that any bands tied to the trunk are regularly removed and re-applied so that the string doesn't cut into a thickening trunk.
- Don't stick to everything! Insect glue is very, very sticky. Applying glue bands to trees is most easily done without gloves on - but then your hands get very, very sticky. The best way to remove insect glue from your hands is with a two-stage process: rub in vegetable oil, then wash off with washing up liquid.
Applying a grease or glue band to your fruit trees is an easy and cheap way to prevent problems during the fruiting season and to help ensure a pest- and disease-free crop.