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Thread: Help with garden pests

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    Member Asrais's Avatar
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    Help with garden pests

    I have a small hibiscus rubera tree in my back garden - I planted it as a seedling, it's now about 3ft tall. I noticed to day that the ants were very busy all over it, on closer inspection I found that they were milking scale bugs. Now it's not a massive infestation, but I know it'll only get worse. It answers the question of why my poor hibiscus can never hold a flower and why it hasn't grown at all this year.

    I never use sprays in my garden, but despite this, there seems to be very few benificial insects around. Normally, if I find caterpillars or other pests I will let them be, most of my plants are healthy and can handle it, they never get out of control, but I think I should do something as it is affecting the growth of my tree.

    Any suggestions or recipes for natural sprays? Should I just go out and start squishing by hand?

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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: Help with garden pests

    I have major pest issues...Berlin is humid, but not too hot, and bugs LOVE it because everything is damp. I tried something called Neem Oil with success. I usually just mix it with water and shake it about (since oil and water don't mix), but I think there's some sort of emulsifier you can use as well (I'd look it up though). The only thing is, it doesn't smell nice.

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    Copper Member Ula's Avatar
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    Re: Help with garden pests

    Food grade diatomaceous earth is supposed to kill anything that crawls but is safe for people and the tree. It has to be dry so if it rains you would need to re-sprinkle. You can get it at most hardware stores.

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    Member SCoyote's Avatar
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    Re: Help with garden pests

    Quote Originally Posted by Asrais View Post
    I have a small hibiscus rubera tree in my back garden - I planted it as a seedling, it's now about 3ft tall. I noticed to day that the ants were very busy all over it, on closer inspection I found that they were milking scale bugs. Now it's not a massive infestation, but I know it'll only get worse. It answers the question of why my poor hibiscus can never hold a flower and why it hasn't grown at all this year.

    I never use sprays in my garden, but despite this, there seems to be very few benificial insects around. Normally, if I find caterpillars or other pests I will let them be, most of my plants are healthy and can handle it, they never get out of control, but I think I should do something as it is affecting the growth of my tree.

    Any suggestions or recipes for natural sprays? Should I just go out and start squishing by hand?
    Are they scale or aphids? Hopefully it is aphids as they are fairly easy to take care of. Washing them off with a jet of water is the easiest and less toxic way. If it is scale, i am unsure. I have never had issues with them as the pests generally are removed by the good insects in my own garden and i have never had issue with scale.

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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: Help with garden pests

    If it's aphids I'd also go to a park with a container and just pick up some ladybugs and set them loose in the garden. Works like a charm!

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    Member Asrais's Avatar
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    Re: Help with garden pests

    Definately scale.

    I don't want to use anything that might kill off useful insects, so that rules out diatomaceous earth. Neem oil is a deterrent right? So that would be ok.

    Every time I go to any parks I try to recruit ladybugs, but I never find any. I have heard rumour of a particular area that they like to hang out, I will go and see if I can hire any - I'd be afraid the ants would kill them though.

    So far, what I have done is spray the tree down with a soap and water spray, leave it for an hour, then spray it off with the hose. I then put some petroleum jelly around the base of the tree to keep the ants from getting back up to their harvest.

    I have sprayed twice so far and it seems to be working - definately less ants at least.

    It was quite fascinating really, watching the ants go from scale to scale collecting honeydew - amazing creatures, but just not on my favourite tree, thank you!

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    Member PhoenixMask's Avatar
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    Re: Help with garden pests

    You can use borax. It is natural. You can read about it here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borax

    Just getting a box of it and sprinkling it around your veggies will deter the ants.

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    Member Asrais's Avatar
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    Re: Help with garden pests

    I went out to check the tree this morning. Zero ants, so thats a good start. I pruned back all the scale infested leaves and any that were showing signs of disease. Poor tree looks a little bald right now, but there is plenty of new growth, so hopefully that will be healthy.

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    Re: Help with garden pests

    If you have a garden centre that sells products from organic farming, you may find a kind of powder blent with some clay. Within, a nemato bacterial complex. What is it ? Actually, it's a mustualism between nematodes (worms) and some species of bacteria. They usually live together and hunt bugs in a very clever way but giving you more details would involve using some scientific jargon that i only know in french language.

    However, if you mix this powder with some water in your watering can and pour it upon or around your plants, the ferocious team will eat all the undesirable bugs. Perfectly natural, no chemical substance and very effective.

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