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Scale insects

Today I rescued a ladybird from the indoor swimming pool and, in order to give it the opportunity to show its gratitude, I put it on the little grapefruit tree which grows in a tub beside the pool.

The grapefruit tree grew from a pip, and considering that it shares its tub with a cactus, it’s doing quite well. However some of its leaves are coated in a sticky substance which then attracts a black mold.

I looked on the internet about it and I’m pretty certain that it’s the secretion of scale insects, which hide on stems masquerading as part of the tree while meantime sucking its sap.

Ladybird on the grapefruit tree. Notice the black mold.

Ladybirds eat scale insects, along with other unlovely things like aphids which can also cause stickiness, so my friend should have been in for a treat. It crawled about the grapefruit tree a bit but then it disappeared. I reckon it’s shirking!

If I can’t get ladybirds to help me, I’ll have to resort to some kind of insecticide, but I have to be careful because whatever it is will kill ladybirds as well.

I did find one alternative on the internet – a targeted home-made insect spray of nicotine. I have to soak 30 cigarette ends in 4 litres of water for a week (after removing the filters). It kills mealy bugs as well as scale insects.

All I have to do is engage a couple of Italian workmen for a day or 2 to provide the butts.

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