False codling moth

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In recent years, the  pest “False Coling Moth” (FCM) has appeared. The pest has come to Israel from South Africa in the 1980s and in recent years, it has been damaging a number of agricultural crops ,and thus posing a threat to the continued export of citrus and pomegranates to Europe.

What is the False Codling Moth?

The FCM is a dangerous pest, highly threatening to the continuation of exporting fruits in general, and citruses in particular, to markets around the world. In export there is a requirement for zero infection. If an infected fruit is discovered while examined when the fruits arrive at the destination port in the European Union, even by one worm, the entire shipment will be rejected immediately. The whole shipment may be immediately blocked from exports to countries that are sensitive to the issue, such as the US, Canada, China and Korea. During tests in the orchards and the packing houses, carried out last season, about 40 plots of exports were disqualified, of which two were expelled, arriving at the ports of France.
The more sensitive varieties in the country are the orange varieties, tangerines and oranges. The most sensitive export varieties are Ori Mandarins, Nova Mandarins and various oranges. In any case, all the systemic approach against the FCM must be carried out in all plots of citrus in the affected area, except lime and lemon. Last season, the EU issued a requirement from the State of Israel to present to it an export preparation protocol, which will be approved by them and monitored by the Plant Protection Services. The protocol contains inspection and taking care of the pests in the plots, registration of the plots by the plant protection services, inspection and control of the packing houses, and supervision of shipments for export. Plots that do not meet these requirements – cannot export fruit.

Description of Degrees of the Pest’s development: Their shape is as a dome, they are very small and their color is pale white. The eggs lay on the rind of the fruit, sometimes near its navel. Before hatching, their color changes to pinkish-red.

The False Codling Moth: eggs in varying degrees of development, before hatching, the larva appears through the eggshell (Photo: R. Caspi)

The Larvas:  The head is dark red-brown in color. Along the dorsal part there are typical bumps of vesicular figures. The larval color in the young grades, grades 1-3, is whitish-yellowish; And in the adult grades, grades 4-5 – pink (see photos).

False Codling Moth: First Degree Lavra  rooting into the bark of the fruit (Photo: R. Caspi)

False Codling Moth: Top: Lavra Fifth degree;  Bottom: young Lavra second degree (Photo: R. Caspi)

How to diagnose an infection by the Moth?

External diagnosis of suspected and infected fruit: A. In infected fruits, whose peel is green, there has been an unusual change in color from green to yellow and at an uncharacteristic date before ripening (similar to the fruit fly bite). B. In a full-coloured fruit, a yellow aura develops in the larval infiltration area, against the orange color of the bark. C. In the cut of the fruit, a burrowing of the moth lavras can be noticed in in the  buoyancy, and within them

the droppings that the larva exudes in its feeding. The droppings are white in color, and later they turn black. No moist decay in the fruit was created following the larval infiltration.

False Codling Moth: Lavra and droppings in the citrus fruit (Photo: R. Caspi)

False Codling Moth: Lavra’s pathway of rotting inside the Orange (Photo: R. Caspi)

Fruits in which lavras are usually in advanced stages fall to the ground, but not all infected fruits fall out, so they can be picked with the rest of the fruit and reach the packaging system.

How can the moth phenomenon be eradicated?

Pesticides – Reduction of the moth population is based on confusion with pheromone preparations and biological and chemical preparations that kill the larvae on the bark of the fruit. The confusion method is recommended to start when finding cohesion of several males in one of the monitoring traps in a sequence of 3 tests in the same orchard. If in one of the traps there are over 10 units captured, the confusion method must be taken immediately, even if this is the first capture.

What is Splat?

Splat – A pheromone for male moth confusion.

How to disperse the splat material? 

The splat is applied to the upper third part of the tree. It comes in the handset, which substance is applied to the tree by smearing with a “silicone gun”. The required dose is 100 grams per dunam, and will be given by 50 points evenly distributed throughout each dunam of the plot. The product is effective for 10-12 weeks from its application and is resistant to all weather conditions, including rain.

Detection of infected fruit which were inserted into the picking containers and packaging system prior to harvest. Fruit inspection must be carried out in part by an inspector on behalf of the packing house or the exporter. In order to identify infected fruits during the harvest and when pouring the fruits into containers, an inspector should be placed by the container. The role of this inspector is to identify infected fruits, remove them from the container and destroy them.

During the clarification and packaging process, all possible means, such as smart cameras and human inspectors, must be used to locate infected fruits that have been able to infiltrate and reach the packaging system. An updated work protocol will be sent to the packing houses before the harvesting season.

Splat application by drones

In cooperation with the Luxembourg company, ALTA Innovation has developed a dedicated system for dispersing the splat material. ALTA is developing advanced systems that bring advanced agricultural solutions. The company currently operates in the field of spraying and pest control and is the leading company in the country with proven commercial experience. The company’s spraying drones operate across the country for fast, cost-effective, efficient and precise spraying in comparison to its competitors..

How much substance is needed to disperse?

100 grams per dunam (about 1.6 grams per tree) is required to effectively reduce the pest population in the field ALTA Innovation has developed a unique dispersion system and has accumulated hundreds of hours of operation and dispersal of the splat by drones in agricultural areas. The system allows the material to be dispensed using a drone in a precise, efficient, and fast manner., while saving manpower. A small and efficient operating team is capable of applying substance to about 500 dunams of orchards a day.