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Tree care tip: Using grease bands to protect your fruit trees

by editor on August 19, 2011

If you’re lucky enough to have a fruit tree, you’re probably well aware of the attraction insects have to these types of trees in particular. Humans are not the only ones who enjoy the sweet, succulent fruits; several types of moths have also been known to lay their eggs in fruit trees so their larvae can feed off the fruits while they grow. This can cause serious damage to the young fruit and make them inedible for humans.

So how can you stop these moths from destroying your fruit trees?

Tree care specialists say that in order to lay their eggs, moths must climb a tree while in the caterpillar stage. These caterpillars may be cute, but the damage they’re about to do if they reach the canopy of your tree won’t seem so adorable. In order to prevent the ascent, apply what’s called a grease band to the trunk of your tree.

Grease bands are sold in most gardening stores, but you can also create your own by finding some material that will fit around the base of your tree, approximately a foot and a half above the soil. Attach this material to the trunk during the months of October through January. Once firmly attached, apply a sticky or slick substance, preferably a substance that won’t harm the environment or other wild life. Many Ohio tree care experts suggest using petroleum jelly as a successful deterrent to the caterpillar’s steep climb.

It is important to know that just one application will not be enough. You will need to re-apply the substance continuously through these months to make sure there is no chance the caterpillars will be able to climb past the grease band.

Tree care professionals also advise against using glue or any type of adhesive, since the captured bugs will provide a quick and easy meal for birds. You don’t want to risk having birds stuck to the grease band and unable to break free, so stick to substances that are greasy, such as petroleum jelly.

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