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Grease bands

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last updated May 10, 2010
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Grease bands to protect against Winter moth (Operophtera brumata) on Apple (Malus). Credit: RHS/Entomology.

Grease bands are a traditional method for preventing the females of certain wingless moths from climbing up the trunks of fruit trees and other deciduous trees before they lay eggs.

Suitable for... Back to top

Grease bands are mainly used to protect fruit trees, such as apple, plum, pear and cherry. Note that sticky barriers give no protection against codling moth, the cause of maggoty apples. That pest has winged females that are active in midsummer.

  • Mottled umber moth (Erannis defoliaria), winter moth (Operophtera brumata) and March moth (Alsophila aescularia) have wingless females which, after emerging from the pupal or chrysalis stage in the soil, must climb the tree to mate and lay their eggs. The caterpillars of these moths eat the leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs during late March and early June.
  • Grease bands trap some of the wingless females before they reach the branches. Winter moth is the most important of these moths and it emerges as adults during November to mid-January.

When to do it Back to top

  • Grease bands should be placed on trunks and tree stakes about 45cm (18in) above soil level in late October, before the adults begin to emerge in November.
  • Moth activity declines after January, but as some species with wingless females are active until April, grease may need to be reapplied from time to time.

Products Back to top

  • Smooth-barked young trees: use ready-prepared sticky papers (Bayer Boltac Greasebands, Growing Success Glue Band Traps, Vitax Tree Bands or Agralan Glue Bands).
  • Older trees with fissured bark: apply grease directly onto the bark (Vitax Fruit Tree Grease or Agralan Insect Barrier Glue).

Quick facts

Suitable for  Fruit trees, especially apple, plum, cherry and pear. Can also be applied to ornamental deciduous trees, such as flowering cherry, crab apple, mountain ash and lime
Timing  Late October- November
Difficulty  Easy
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