Speed crucial for pest control

The real secret of insect pest control is to get started early in the season before their populations start to build up. This means checking your plants every week for any sign of problems and taking action.

You may see a couple of whitefly adults flying when you disturb a plant and think there is not a problem, but a week or so later there will be a lot more and the populations will build quickly from that point and become a major problem as summer progresses.

The other aspect is to control all the places where the pests are breeding otherwise they will only keep on re-infesting.

Warming weather brings out numerous insect pests - grass grub beetles, codlin moth, whitefly, leaf hoppers, spider mites, aphids and many more.

When left without control, the latter four will quickly build up their populations making for a real problem later in summer.

The first two will be worse next season if allowed to breed and will do lots of damage to plants and fruit.

Codlin moth attack apples, pears and walnuts ruining the fruit they are able to infest.

Hang a small container of treacle in the lower branches of each tree using an onion bag. This attracts the male moths and by monitoring the trap you can determine when the pests are on the wing. Within a few days of finding an influx of moths in the treacle spray the young apples (or other affected fruit) with neem tree oil for total coverage. Repeat this every seven days till activity in the trap stops.

Grass grub beetles are on the wing early in the evening and they will eat the foliage of roses, citrus and a number of other plants. Each female beetle is capable of laying 300 eggs during the few weeks they are active which means lots of grubs to ruin your lawns.

You can set up a grass grub beetle trap by placing a trough, such as the one used when wallpapering, directly underneath a window near a grassed area. Fill the trough with water to about two-thirds of its capacity, then place a film of kerosene on top of the water. Put a bright light in the window at dusk - the beetles are attracted to the light, hit the glass and fall into the trough.

Whitefly can infest tomato plants, cucumbers, citrus and a number of other plants.

A number of sprays, several days apart, with a combination of neem tree oil and Key Pyrethrum, should be applied just before dusk when they have settled for the night. Spray under and over the leaves of effected plants. Neem tree granules sprinkled on the soil in the root zone of tomatoes will keep the pests under control. These should be placed there at planting time and repeated about every six weeks.

The same method applies to cabbages and other brassicas for white butterfly caterpillars.

Aphids can be sprayed with a combination of neem tree oil and Key Pyrethrum or alternatively with soapy water made from cake Sunlight soap.

Problems? Phone me on 0800 466 464 or email wallyjr@gardenews.co.nz.

The Southland Times