Apple sawfly is as widespread as codling moth. However, the presence of apple sawfly can usually be tolerated and in years when there has been a heavy fruit set, a bit of fruit thinning caused by apple sawfly can be beneficial.
Some cultivars, such as ‘Worcester Pearmain’, ‘Charles Ross’, ‘James Grieve’ and ‘Ellison’s Orange’, seem to be particularly susceptible to apple sawfly. Apart from ‘Early Victoria’ and ‘Edward VII’, cooking apples are rarely affected.
Check apples once fruit has begun to set so action can be taken before a damaging infestation has developed. When choosing control options you can minimise harm to non-target animals by starting with the methods in the non-pesticide control section. If this is not sufficient to reduce the damage to acceptable levels then you may choose to use pesticides. Within this group the shorter persistence pesticides (that are usually certified for organic growing) are likely to be less damaging to non-target wildlife than those with longer persistence.
- Where possible tolerate populations of sawfly
- Encourage predators and other natural enemies of sawfly in the garden, such as birds and ground beetles
- Pick off damaged fruitlets when they are seen to prevent the larvae moving to other fruitlets or going into the soil to pupate.
- If damage has been heavy in previous years, a spray within seven days of petal fall with the contact pyrethroid may control the newly hatched larvae. Spraying at dusk is likely to give the best results
- Organic contact insecticides containing natural pyrethrins (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Neudorff Bug Free Bug and Larvae Killer). Several applications of these short persistence products may be necessary to give good control
- More persistent contact insecticides include the synthetic pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Bug Killer) and deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer, Provanto Sprayday Greenfly Killer)
Follow label instructions when using pesticides. Make sure apple or all fruit and veg is listed on the label and follow instructions on maximum number applications, spray interval and harvest interval
Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to bees and other pollinating insects
Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by RHS Gardening Advice. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener
Pesticides for gardeners
(downloads pdf document outlining pesticides available to home gardeners)