Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Extreme garden pest control

As you may have read in my last post, things have been neglected somewhat of late. That includes the garden and backyard. Weeds are going crazy, the grass needs mowing and some undesirable bugs have taken up residence. A few months back I picked a very small crop from my mandarin tree. I had noticed that some bronze stink bugs were present. It was my intention to give the tree a good prune, debug, oil spray treatment and fertilise. However I got slack and never got round to doing it. Next thing I know the whole tree had burst into flower, oops missed that opportunity. I thought all was going OK, I hadn't seen any more stink bugs, yes the tree really did need a prune but it was too late now. I gave it some liquid fertiliser and planned on giving it a good treatment once the fruit was the size of a pea. Last week whilst watering the tree I was shocked to find the tree was literally covered in orange bugs, different looking bugs to what had been there before.
The offending bugs
As it turns out these are immature bronze stink bugs. They can cause lots of damage to the tree especially the new shoots, see above picture.  I don't think there is an organic spray to control these pesky critters unfortunately.  You can pick them off manually and dump them into hot soapy water.  However, when under threat they squirt out a rather nasty smelling slime that can be very irritating to the skin.  The other method of removal that I had heard about was from Annette McFarlane on ABC local radio gardening program.  Annette uses a vacuum to remove the bugs, yes a vacuum.  Considering the size of the infestation I thought this is going to be the best method for me!

Extreme pest control tools
 Armed with my trusty old vac, eye protection, gloves, hat and a long sleeved shirt I attacked the tree.  My my my what a sense of satisfaction one gets from sucking those blighters from the leaves and branches.  At the same time I did feel some guilt as they have a right to live as well.  It took the best part of an hour to do the job.  Up and down the ladder, looking under leaves and branches, finding their hiding spots.  I can't imagine what the neighbours must have thought, vacuuming a tree.....LOL
Once finished I had to prune out a large branch in the middle as it had died.  I found about a dozen more bugs so they got they hot soapy water treatment.  I'll give the tree an oil spray next as I think it has scale as well. 

A word of warning if you want to try this yourself, don't use a bag less vacuum or your brand new Dyson (no I didn't make that mistake).  It makes a bit of a mess in the vac and the smell from the bugs is a bit difficult to remove but it works a treat!  

My trusty garden helper Tana

I'm finally getting my gardening mojo back again.  It's just going to take a long time to get on top of things, baby steeps.

Do you have any extreme gardening adventures?

Cheers Lisa


Tanya said...

I remember the stink of these still and it has been many years. I've never encountered them here in Tas though thank goodness. Interesting that had the neighbours looking!

Lisa said...

Isn't it funny how you can recall certain smells. I'm sure this is one you'd rather forget! I was so hoping one of my neighbours would come out and ask me what I was up to but they didn't.

Rose said...

I've got to get Tony to read this: great post Lisa. :)

Lisa said...

Thanks Rose, I hope Tony either learns something or has a laugh.

melisa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Margarite Miller said...

Wow, surprisingly I never knew this.
I have been reading your blog a lot over the past few days and it has earned a place in my bookmarks.Thanks for sharing with us.
control Pest

Lisa said...

Hi Margarite and welcome. Thanks for your lovely comment :)

Tree Service Asheville said...

Sad to say, stink bugs pollute the air nearly everywhere around the United States. It was like this all summer long, they zoom in somehow, and start to... Congregate. Its disturbing. Anyone know of any natural repellents?? They would come in handy.

-Tony Salmeron

ambradambra said...

Such an unnecessary little critter! I used a combination of citrus oil and the ol' bucket and stick method. I wrote a post about my adventures on my blog 'The Good the Bad and the Italian'.

GretchenJoanna said...

Your photo makes them look almost beautiful - but then when I enlarged it, knowing they were stink bugs, all the beauty was gone and replaced with ickiness! I don't even have a stink bug problem here in California, but just encountering them in the eastern U.S. has made them repulsive to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi, your story was really funny! My aunt also use her vacuum cleaner for crazy things. Years ago she had a earthworm infestation on her terrace (near the lawn). After raining, many worms came from lawn to terrace. If the ground was dry, my aunt took her vacuum from house and started to suck up all worms from the floor. (it was a strange noise, as she sucked the worms in the tube :-/