Crop walking in August

A lovely sunny day for my routine crop walk – I walk up and down the orchard rows, secateurs on my belt, gloved hands and a plastic sack.  I give each tree a long hard stare, beginning with the leader then checking each branch from the top to the bottom.

The trees are being eaten – of course they are – this is an orchard which receives the minimum of spraying, an orchard where we are trying to maintain a balance betwee the ‘good and the bad’.

Second generation young Vapourer moth are sitting in the sun ontop of the leaves close to the leader, these are a spectacular looking caterpillar, easily identified.

Also at the top of a couple of trees, on the underside of the leaves, a healthy colony of voracious hawk moth caterpillars, much harder to spot and pick off than the Vapouror moths.  The guilt gets to me but I have to protect my young apple trees whilst I can, in a few years time the hawkmoth larvae will be well beyond my reach.

The bottom of the trees are being eaten too, by deer.  It took a couple of years for the deer to find the new orchard but now they pay it a daily visit and so our deer fence is being extended as I type.

The good news is that we have a healthy population of beneficial insects in the orchard too, I found many ladybirds and spotted a lacewing, hoverfly and earwig too.