Posts Tagged ‘insecticide’

The bad and the beautiful

July 16, 2013 4 comments
A lively nest

A lively nest

The small wooden structure which houses our swimming pool pump has recently been a hive of activity.

Last night I opened the lid, saw a couple of wasps fly out, and received a very nasty sting on my hand.

I attributed this attack to one of the potter wasps which builds in there, even though I’d always believed them to be peaceable insects which mind their own business.

Later on, when it was almost dark, I opened the pump house lid completely and there attached to its underside was a nest humming with very vigorous and vicious-looking paper wasps.

They must have built that whole thing in about 2 days!

I sprayed the nest with garden insecticide and later returned to sweep it into a bucket of water.

This morning I went to see what the potter wasps were up to and found a fresh, damp, pot shape on the top of the pump filter.

Then a potter wasp arrived carrying a lump of clay!

A confused potter wasp wanting to deliver its load

Potter wasp with a load of clay

It swooped around, clearly confused by the fact that the pump house lid was up, and only when I closed it did it go in, using its customary slit.

Almost immediately there was a great buzzing and I peeked inside the pump house.

The wasp was inside the hollow of the pot shape, adding its load of clay and rounding it out.

Potter wasp finally at work

Potter wasp at work

What skill and industry!

I closed the pump house lid gently and left it be. It had had enough disturbance for one day.

Victim of the wet Spring

June 8, 2013 3 comments
2 healthy almonds, a shrivelled one, and perforated leaves

2 healthy almonds plus a shrivelled one and perforated leaves caused by shot hole disease

Yesterday I went to see how the almond tree was getting on.

I was horrified to find that most of its leaves were full of little holes.

My immediate reaction was to blame pests – maybe even the few small snails which I found on the twigs.

It being at long last a dry day, I started spraying the tree with the pesticide it should have had after flowering but never got.

As I sprayed, I noticed that a lot of the holes had formed in the centre of brown blotches.

Was it a fungal disease?

I added fungicide to my spray; the tree was now getting the full treatment it had missed out on.

Indoors, the internet confirmed my suspicions; the diagnosis jumped out at me:  shot hole disease.

The fungus is spread by rain splashing on the leaves and takes hold when the weather has been continually wet.

The disease has caused most of the almonds to shrivel up, although those which have developed properly will, apparently, be quite normal.

Our last crop was more than 400 nuts; this year, if nothing further happens, there’ll be about 30.

Slow food

May 3, 2013 Leave a comment
'Slow food' in action

The ladybird at work

Passing by a rose bush, I noticed that some of the buds had white fly on them.

A squirt in time saves nine, I thought, so I fetched the insecticide.

As I stood there with the canister poised,  a ladybird caught my eye on one of the buds.

As far as I could see, it was eating the white fly. In other words, doing the job for me.

It was mighty slow about it, though. As dusk fell it was still on the same bud; in fact still on the same side of the same bud.

Well, they say eating slowly is good for you – I hope it enjoyed its meal!

Neighbour to Granny Smith

April 21, 2013 1 comment
Attractive but deadly

Leaf curl – attractive but deadly

The nectarine tree has leaf curl.

A lot of the leaves are blistered, swollen and brightly coloured as well as curled; in fact this fungal disease would be attractive if I didn’t know it was so damaging.

Seeing as the tree’s finished flowering, Chokri and I gave it the after-flower spray,  but we left out the insecticide element and only used fungicide.

That way, if any bees had braved the windy conditions, they wouldn’t be affected.

It was a necessary precaution because the next tree along in the grid is the Granny Smith apple tree which is in full bloom.

Granny Smith blossom

Granny Smith blossom


March 11, 2013 1 comment
Raindrop by a nectarine bud

Raindrop by a nectarine bud

This photo illustrates well the dilemma which exists this time of year.

The fruit trees should be sprayed with a mix of insecticide and fungicide at what’s called ‘pink bud’ time.

However the buds develop and show their colour (pink or white, depending on the kind of tree) right through a period when there’s almost constant wind and rain and no spraying can be done.

Once the flowers open it’s too late: the insecticide, as well as killing larvae of harmful insects, would decimate the bees and ruin chances of pollination.

Here a raindrop hangs from a nectarine twig where a bud is showing a pink tip.

Why do I feel persecuted?

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

A rainbow, or weather that can’t make up its mind

I don’t know what it is about me and the use of any kind of spray in the garden. As soon as I apply something that needs a given number of hours to dry and be effective, I can be absolutely sure that it will rain well within that timeframe, even when there was no rain forecast.

Today is a good example. I’ve been meaning for weeks to apply some weedkiller to a fast-growing patch of brambles which is threatening to invade my old vegetable patch, and today I finally did it. Good job done, I thought. It should at least slow it down a bit.

Two and a half hours later, when the minimum stated drying time for the product is six hours, it rained. It hasn’t rained for days prior to this!

It didn’t even have the good grace to to rain properly. It delivered a sharp shower – just enough to wash off all my weedkiller – and then stopped.

The same thing happens when I spray the orchard with insecticide and pesticide.

Could it be that in the high-up location where we live the weather is somehow sensing my intentions?

Some people would say it serves me right for using these products, but I say: you’re extremely welcome to come and tackle these brambles by hand!

Scale insects

March 10, 2012 Leave a comment

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.