Bat­tling with bee­tles and bugs

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING - WALLY RICHARDS

When leaves are be­ing chewed with­out any sign of cul­prits, it’s ei­ther birds or bee­tles.

As the weather set­tles and tem­per­a­tures rise, a lot of plant dam­age will be caused by ei­ther grass grub bee­tles or black bee­tles as they hatch out.

They come out at dusk to feed, mate and lay eggs dur­ing their six weeks as an adult, dam­ag­ing hi­bis­cus, cit­rus, roses, beans and bras­si­cas.

Gar­dens ad­ja­cent to farm pad­docks or play­ing fields can be sub­ject to swarms of bee­tles.

Just af­ter dark, check af­fected plants with a torch.

If there are bee­tles, mix up Wallys Su­per Neem Tree Oil at 5ml per litre of wa­ter, plus 1ml of Key Pyrethrum and 1ml of Rain­gard.

Spray any bee­tles on the fo­liage di­rectly.

The pyrethrum is a quick knock-down while the anti-feed­ing prop­er­ties of Su­per Neem Oil will re­strict fur­ther dam­age.

Pyrethrum will be de­ac­ti­vated af­ter a cou­ple of hours of sunlight; the Su­per Neem Oil will last on the fo­liage for 7 to 10 days, with in­creased pro­tec­tion from the Rain­gard.

If there are vast num­bers of bee­tles, spray ev­ery night for a while.

Other in­sect pests are start­ing to emerge from win­ter dor­mancy to be­gin building up their pop­u­la­tions.

Knock out th­ese early starters to lessen in­sect pest prob­lems later in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary - un­less they are in­vad­ing from un­treated gar­dens nearby.

Use Sticky White Fly Traps as a first line of de­fence.

Th­ese can be hung off stakes out­doors or from the roof in glasshouses.

Ideally the trap should be just above the grow­ing plants and raised as the plants get taller.

The traps are 250mm x 100mm with a spe­cial sticky sub­stance that stays sticky all sea­son catch­ing white­fly adults, psyl­lids, aphid adults, and a va­ri­ety of other in­sects.

Neem Tree Gran­ules or Pow­der, ap­plied to the soil or grow­ing medium in the root zone is the next line of de­fence. Make sure the gran­ules are dark and pun­gent. - it means not all the oil has been ex­tracted, mak­ing them more ef­fec­tive than lighter coloured gran­ules. The oil leeches out into the soil and is taken up by the plant’s roots.

In­sect pests feed­ing on the roots get a dose of Neem and stop eat­ing.

The ad­van­tage is re­mov­ing the need to spray while not harm­ing ben­e­fi­cial in­sects such as la­dy­birds and bees.

The strong neem smell can also con­fuse some in­sect pests so they can­not sense their host plants.

Third line of de­fence is the new Wallys Su­per Neem Tree Oil.

To pre­vent burn­ing, use only late in the day when the sun is low on the hori­zon.

Safe to use, the ac­tive com­po­nent azadirachtin has been demon­strated to be of low tox­i­c­ity.

Spray­ing un­der the fo­liage of plant’s leaves is im­por­tant as most in­sect pests are un­der the fo­liage pro­tected from preda­tors and weather.

Al­ways tip out any unused spray onto the soil in the root zone, and rinse the sprayer out with clean wa­ter.

Prob­lems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmer­ston North 357 0606)

‘‘Gar­dens ad­ja­cent to farm pad­docks or play­ing fields can be sub­ject to swarms of bee­tles. Just af­ter dark, check af­fected plants with a torch. ’’

PHOTO: FAIRFAX NZ

Black bee­tles not only in­fest pas­ture, they can be the bane of home gar­den­ers too.

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