Grease bands

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

Grease bands to protect against Winter moth (Operophtera brumata) on Apple (Malus). Credit: RHS/Entomology.

Quick facts

Suitable for  Fruit trees, especially apple, plum, cherry and pear. Can also be applied to ornamental deciduous trees
Timing  Late October- November
Difficulty  Easy

Suitable for...

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 the wingless females before they reach the branches and lay eggs. Winter moth is the most troublesome of these moths,  it emerges as adults during November to mid-January.

When to do it

  • Grease bands should be placed on trunks and tree stakes about 45cm (18in) above soil level in late October, before the adult moths begin to emerge in November.
  • Moth activity declines after January, but as some species with wingless females are active until April.
  • The grease band or glue needs to be kept sticky and free of detritus from late October to April

Products

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

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