Like many people in Coromandel, I’ve noticed something wrong with my feijoas this season – small entry (or exit) holes on the outside of the fruit, and little caterpillars inside with most of the fruit spoiled.
These little caterpillars are the early stage of Australian guava moths and they are devastating the feijoa crop in the North Island.
Apparently they’ve been on our shores since 1997, but I’ve only noticed significant damage to my fruit this year, and according to my research they bore into the fruit whilst it is still on the tree, (or into the kernel in the case of peach, macadamias and locquats). Once the fruit has fallen to the ground, they leave the fruit to turn into pupae and then eventually moths. They can also affect guavas, plums, peaches, nashis, manadrins and lemons.
That’s pretty much every species of fruit I grown in my garden so these are the things that I’ll be doing to try and control them:
> remove all rotten fruit from under the trees (compost it getting the compost pile up to a good temperature to try and kill the caterpillars or throw some on my next bonfire);
> mow under the trees regularly;
> let my chickens scratch around my fruit trees.
Next Spring, I’ll be thinking about two more things:
> cover trees in bug mesh when the fruit is unripe (if you google bug mesh agriculture nz you’ll see a range of options); and
> buy a pheromone trap for guava moth.
I’ve been in touch with NZ Plant and Food too, and I’ve volunteered to take part in a three-month trapping trial. Jack and I are pretty excited – we’ll be doing a real science project that hopefully will help NZ Plant and Food understand more about the Australian Guava Moth and what can be done to save our feijoas!
I’ll report back to you all later on in the year. Cheers Deb