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In my last post, I mentioned an orange device and showed you a picture of it.

Empty pharomone trap

Here’s another picture of the same orange device.

Trap with moths

Something has changed.

The insects you see in the second picture is a small moth with a large name, the Pecan Nut Casebearer (PNC).

PNC is always around, every year … forever. So we must contend with this little pest decisively or it could consume our crop, that’s no exaggeration. Science has given us a tool, the orange device. It’s a pheromone trap. A pheromone is a scent given off by many insects in order to communicate with others of their own species. The rubber stopper you see contains a synthetic pheromone which lures in the male PNC who is tricked into thinking there is a female inside.

We place several of these trap throughout the orchard early in the season, about the time the leaves begin to unfurl in early April. For many nights we will catch nothing in our traps. Then one night we will catch 10 or 12 or more PNC male moths.

Male moth

That signifies the beginning of the life cycle of the PNC.  7 days after the first moth catch we can expect to see tiny eggs on the tips of the newly-pollinated nutlets.

Egg

See the white dot at the tip of the nutlet?

After 7 to 10 more days the eggs will hatch and a larva will emerge... a very hungry larva. It will burrow into the side of the nutlet leaving a bit of dark frass and some webbing.

Larvae feeding

At this point, the damage is done and the larva is safe, safe from being eaten by other insects and safe from any insecticides we may try to apply.

But because the orange device allows us to identify the very beginning of the life cycle we can be prepared for the larvae before it hatches.

When the first moths are caught we know when the eggs will be laid and once the eggs are laid we spray a product into the tree canopy designed to kill only the larvae of moths, no other insect species. The product is in place when the eggs hatch, the larvae take one bite and dies.

The beauty of this product is that all other insect species are unharmed and they never know the orchard has been sprayed so all the beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and spiders are present to control the yellow aphids which arrive later.

The orange device is an ingenious management tool, one we implement every single year so that we can be sure we have enough high-quality Royalty Pecans available for you to enjoy in the fall.