Your Guide to Easy Fruit Tree Care

Bug Busting Orchard Sox Experiment

How Do You Fight Back Against Apple Tree Pests?

What do you do when insect pests destroy the apples on your apple tree? You can get mad - or you can get even by applying insect barriers like Orchard Sox to prevent bugs from laying their eggs under the skin of the growing fruit on your tree.

That was Donna Lockey's approach. The artist from the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, decided to do a little experiment, comparing three ways of protecting the apples growing on her tree.

Her goal was to protect the fruit before the insect pests got a chance to do their damage. So, in the early spring, when the baby apples on her Royal Gala apple tree were about an inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, she applied an insect barrier on each little fruitlet.

Three ways to protect growing fruit from insect damage: plastic sandwich bags, Orchard Sox, and gift bags from the dollar store. (Photo Credit Donna Lockey)

When it comes to barriers to protect your apple tree fruit from insect and pest damage, there are different options. Donna chose three to try this year. And some of the fruit she left uncovered to compare how the unprotected fruit fared.

For protection, she used:

  • Orchard Sox, little nylon sockets that, when tied onto baby fruit, expand as the fruit grows, protecting it from insect damage.
  • Sandwich bags, zipping the fruitlets into these little plastic bags.
  • Gift bags from the dollar store, which have an easy pull that you can tie to keep the bag securely on the fruit. Perhaps she was inspired by The Daily Bread Orchard's designer apples?
The Royal Gala apples that were not protected by orchard sox, sandwich bags, or gift bags look a little worse for wear. (Photo credit: Donna Lockey)

Best Pest Protection? Orchard Sox vs. Sandwich Bags vs. Gift Bags

So far this year Donna harvested 15 pounds of apples from her tree. Here she describes her results:

"The socks worked well. There were a few bird damaged ones and bugs got in on those ones.   As the socks grew with the apples the ends opened up.  Next year I plan on using clothespins to keep that twist tight, rather than twisting and tucking them in on themselves."

"The sandwich bags worked okay. Earwigs were able to get in still and a big ol' spider, probably from the cut corners."

"The party favour bags worked well, but I doubt you could put them on large size apples. Pulling the ties closed was fast and easy."

Donna was super happy with the results, even though her friendly neighborhood earwigs managed to munch their way past some of the barriers to destroy a further five pounds of fruit. Thanks Donna for sharing your story and your pictures!

There's lots more to learn about protecting your fruit trees from pests and disease. Check out the podcast below, peruse my fruit tree care blog, or sign up for my online training course in Beginner Fruit Tree Care. Enjoy!

Susan Poizner

Director, Fruit Tree Care Education Online

Susan Poizner is an urban orchardist and the author of the award-winning fruit tree care book Growing Urban Orchards. She is the creator of the award-winning online fruit tree care training program at and the host of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast.  She is also an ISA Certified Arborist..

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Susan Poizner of Orchard People

Speaks at conferences and symposiums across North America about fruit tree care, urban orchard design, fruit tree cultivars and more.
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