It isn’t only people that enjoy the round green, yellow or red fruits of the apple (Malus domestica) tree. A number of pests can damage a harvest or the tree itself. As a cost-effective preventive measure as well as an organic insect control method, milk jug traps are sometimes hung from apple tree branches to capture insects that would otherwise damage the fruit or the tree. Unlike other insect traps, milk jug insect traps are effective against flying as well as crawling insects. Apple trees grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8.
1. Milk Jug Traps
Hanging milk jugs from tree branches is an organic insect control method that can prevent or stop crawling and flying insects from damaging apple trees and their fruit. Milk jugs are filled partway with a sweet solution that lures in the insects. When the insects enter the jugs, they are coated with the sticky sweet substance and drown. Different sized milk jugs can be used, depending on the size and needs of of the apple tree. Larger trees can bear the weight of larger jugs.
2. Making the Traps
Milk jugs require few changes other than holes to thread string through so you can hang them. You can simply remove the cap so insects can fly or crawl in. Place any holes on the side at least 1 inch above the bottom so you have room for the liquid.
3. Insect Solution
Use a ratio of 1 cup to 1 quart ratio of sugar to water to attract insects. Common choices for the sugar include white table sugar or molasses. Combine the sugar with the water and stir until it is dissolved. You can also add in 1 cup of apple cider vinegar or yeast, depending on the type of pests you are interested in attracting. A chopped banana peel will also keep the sugar content high as it decomposes in the solution. Hang jugs with different solutions so you can attract a wider variety of insects.
4. How to Use
Hang the milk jugs on strong branches that can bear the weight of the milk jugs and solution. Remove the cap from the jug and hang it from the branch with garden twine or rope. Hang different jugs in different parts of the tree or orchard for best results. Small trees need only one jug per tree, while larger trees may benefit from up to three jugs. Check to see how successful your milk jug traps are every two to three weeks. Adding more water to the jugs will ensure the jugs work consistently. Check the jugs after heavy rains or wind to see if they need to be refilled, if the solution needs to be replaced or if there has been damage to either the jugs or trees.
- University of Wisconsin Extension: Insect Pests of Apple Trees
- The Old Farmer's Almanac: Apples
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Training and Pruning Young Apple and Pear Trees
- Fairview Farm Produce: Apple Jug Recipe
- Cornell University Department of Entomology: Apple Maggot
- Forrest Hill Farm: Fruit Tree Insect Traps
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Early Spring Care for Fruit Trees
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