I woke at 5.15a.m. the other morning.
Taking a solitary walk in the quiet calm and early morning coolness of an autumn morning that is a welcome change from the sometimes overpowering heat of summer, and, is, to me, the very best way to start the day.
But, that morning I discovered that we have been infiltrated by a gutless skiniving pest!
|The start of our lemon orchard in December 2010|
Some of you may have been following my blog back in 2010 - 2011. And you may recall my showing you the lemon trees that I grew from pips. Well, this pest, who lurks, hidden, beneath the leaves of the lemon trees, has invaded our citrus orchard.
It is called a Woolly Wifefly and I have no alternative - I have to eradicate it. Pronto!
Well, to quote from http://www.cals.arizona.edu/crop/citrus/insects/woolywhitefly.pdf
"DAMAGE: Woolly whiteflies suck phloem sap, causing
leaves to wilt and drop when populations are large.
Honeydew droplets collect dust and support the growth of
sooty mold; large infestations where copious amounts of
honeydew are produced, can result in the blackening of
entire trees. This reduces photosynthesis, resulting in
decreased fruit size. Honeydew and sooty mold can also
contaminate the fruit. Although this contamination can
be washed off at the packing shed, harvest is slowed in
infested groves and harvest crews are hesitant to pick
heavily contaminated fruit."
I know of a commercial orchard near the Peregrine Restaurant on the N2 between Grabouw and Bot Rivier that had to destroy an entire orchard a couple of years ago because of this nasty critter. How that farmer must have bemoaned the careless domestic garden custodians and their lack of concern for our citrus / fruit producing orchards.
There are a number of commercial citrus orchards in nearby Buffeljags too - and I have a responsibility to them and their produce.
If anyone finds woolly whitefly on their lemon / orange / naartjie / grapefuit / lime trees in their gardens - please - start treatment immediately! Irrespective of where you are on this planet.
|Here the black sooty mould, an accumulation|
of the honeydew from the woolly whitefly,
is clearly visible.
Unfortunately, the nearby bees are attracted to the lemon trees - they want the honeydew which is produced by the woolly whitefly.
|Ah - the bees...|
We all need them, so I have to ensure that they
are not caught in the spray. Thankfully, they are
not interested in the leaves with no honeydew.
I set to pruning - and pruning radically. Yes, I know it is not the time of year to do so, but I had to try and save my citrus orchard from complete annihilation by these pests. The link to the www.cals.arizona.edu... above, recommended pruning as the first option, as this will also open up the canopy and make spraying easier and more effective.
The pruned branches were immediately burnt in an empty, rusty 55 gallon drum the builders left behind, and which we keep specifically for the purposes of getting rid of nasty plagues - be they leaf mould on cucurbits, or woolly whitefly...
Nothing lost, nothing gained.
|Before - the lemon trees have grown nicely, and|
should start producing fruit next season. If the
woolly whitefly will give them a chance...
Note to self: get a bigger spray bottle!
|There are enough of them that I am able|
to photograph them with my very basic
|A close-up of the woolly whiteflies|
|A close-up of the cotton wool appearance of the|
woolly whitefly nest
With any pest control of this nature, it is important to find out if your neighbours have the same problem, because any infestation that you sort out, can be all for nought if they don't climb in and do their bit. Unfortunately, our neighbour is not that sort...
|After - the pruned and sprayed lemon orchard|
I believe that perseverance pays - so I am going to have to prove that... :)