By: Teo Spengler
Fruit tree grease bands are a pesticide-free way of keeping winter moth caterpillars away from your pear and apple trees in the spring. You use fruit tree grease for insect control. The “bracelets” of grease on the trunk create an impassable barrier that stops the wingless females from climbing up the tree trunks to lay their eggs. If you want to know how to apply fruit tree grease bands or the ins and outs of using gel bands, read on.
Insects use fruit trees as a place to lay their eggs as well as get some lunch. They can damage your precious fruit trees in the process. Applying fruit tree grease or fruit tree grease bands is one way to stop this kind of insect damage without spraying pesticides in the garden. It is easy and the resulting produce contains no pesticides.
You can buy fruit tree grease bands, also known as gel bands, in your garden store. Using gel bands is not difficult. You don’t need any special skill to wrap them around the trunks of your fruit trees. Simply place them around the trunk about 18 inches (46 cm.) above the ground.
If the bark of the tree is not smooth, grease bands might not work well, since the bugs can crawl under the bands through the fissures and continue creeping up the trunk. In that case, think about applying fruit tree grease to the trunk.
If you are wondering how to apply fruit tree grease, slather it on in a ring around the trunk about 18 inches (46 cm.) above the soil. A ring of grease stops bugs in their tracks.
Now you know how to apply fruit tree grease to your tree. You also have to learn about appropriate timing. You’ll want to start applying fruit tree grease at the end of October. The moths that want to lay eggs in the fruit trees typically arrive in November before the coldest weather hits. You want the protective bands in place before they get to the garden.
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Read more about General Fruit Care
Here we look at fruit trees and homemade pest remedies for common pests and diseases.
Both commercial and home made organic pest control for dealing with fruit tree pests and diseases can be effective if used correctly.
The best cure is prevention, and the most effective way of preventing pest or disease problems in your fruit trees is to keep them healthy.
Here are a few general tips for caring for fruit trees:
If you feed too much of these high nitrogen fertilizers though, you will end up with leaf growth rather than fruit, and may actually encourage pests.
You could also provide adequate nitrogen by sowing a living mulch of clover around your tree in winter.
Fruit Tree Companion Planting
Pesky insect pests often rely on smell to find their target plants.
Fruit tree companion planting with aromatic herbs can help confuse pests and reduce the number that find their way to your precious plant.
Try growing strong smelling herbs such as chives, henbit, Coriander, garlic, marigold, tansy and mustard under your trees.
DEALING WITH COMMON PESTS AND DISEASES Now we come to specific common diseases and pests of fruit trees and homemade pest solutions:
NATURAL PEST CONTROL of APHIDS
Aphids are the bottom of the garden food chain, and so are the main fare for a wide variety of other critters. For natural pest control of aphids you have to allow them to build up for several weeks before thinking about active control, or you will starve their predators before they have had a chance to get established!
I tried this myself and found that the waiting game paid off with a veritable army of aphid predators rushing to the feast.
Aphid predators are many and include:
There are many species of wasp and hover fly like insects that adore eating aphids either as adults or larvae. Aphids parasitized by Chalcid wasp larvae will look dark and “mummified”. Hoverfly larvae look just like a little caterpillar.
Encourage those that feed exclusively on nectar as adults by letting parsley, carrot and fennel flower and growing native plants near your gardens. Buckwheat, Poached Egg Plant, Sunflower, Yarrow and Wild Angelica are good for attracting Hover Flies.
Both adult and larval Lady Bugs (or Lady Birds) exclusively eat aphids – up to 200 a day! The larvae look like a dark spotted grub.
Larvae of the graceful Lacewing are fearsome little critters that resemble a tiny Earwig in shape with a good set of jaws at the front.
Lacewing larvae are voracious aphid munchers! Lacewing eggs are interesting – they come in a group of little white eggs, each suspended on its own delicate upright “stem”.
The adults are tiny, delicate flies that feed on nectar. Their young are small brown maggots that love eating aphids as well as mites, scale, white flies and thrips.
Predatory midges are commercially available and are often used effectively in greenhouses for year-round control.
A good orchard spray that controls sucking mites, aphids, Rutherglen Bug and thrips but does not seem to affect spiders can be made as follows:
Just grate 2/3 of a cake of soap (save up those pesky little bits left over until you have enough) into 4.5 liters (1 gallon) of hot water. For a more effective recipe, add 1 tspn white oil, 300mls of old cooking oil and 2 tspns of caustic soda to the mix while it is still hot.
Use it once it has cooled to room temperature and only spray it on parts of the trees affected by pests. Avoid spraying anything onto plants during hot periods of the day.
To make larger quantities (enough for 100 trees) combine 18 gal (68 liters) of waste cooking oil (ask at your local fish and chip shop), 1 liter of white oil (optional), 9 gal (34 litres) of water, 3 kg (6.6 lbs) caustic soda and ½ box of washing machine soap powder in a large cooking pot and simmer gently for 3 hours.
Pour into containers to cool and solidify, then use as a spray at the rate of 2 kg soap to 20 liters of water.
When it comes to fruit tree diseases black leaves are really primarily a pest problem rather than a disease.
Black Sooty Mold is common in aphid-infested trees, especially citrus. This is because it grows on a honey mist produced by aphids higher up in the tree that drifts down onto the leaves below.
You’ll probably also find a lot of ants on your trees with these black leaves. They are there to “milk” the sweet sap from the aphids, and actively protect their little herds from predators like Lady Bugs and Lacewing larvae.
You can keep ants off the tree by greasing around the base of the trunk with a thick layer of Vaseline or a skirt of sump-oil soaked rag.
As for the aphids, just deal with as described above.
Fruit Tree Crinkle Leaf Disease
Leaf curl disease is caused by a fungus, and particularly attacks peaches, but will also affect almonds and apricots, resulting in a deformed, crinkled leaf.
This is a useful fungicide:
Suspend 90 g (3 oz) of copper sulfate in the toe of an old stocking overnight.
Blend with 100 g (3.3 oz) of slaked lime, and 4.5 liters (1.2 gallons) of water. Add a further 4.5 liters of water and use immediately. It is useful for leaf curl, especially at the bud stage in the first year to conserve the scarce early leaves.
Also good on vege crops against potato and tomato blights, black spot on beans.
Do not use every year as excess copper will tie up other soil minerals, and copper toxicity can also result.
With Fruit Fly in fruit trees and homemade pest control ideas it’s hard to give you a sure-fire solution.
If you happen to live outside of a Fruit Fly area you are blessed. They are a real problem for us folks who don’t!
The main fruit fly pests in Australia are Queensland fruit fly, native to rainforest areas of Australia’s north-east coast, and Mediterranean fruit fly found only in Western Australia.
Want to know how to get rid of Fruit Flies? Forget it! The best you can hope for is to minimize the damage they do to your fruit, and this requires a combination of different strategies:
The life cycle of a Fruit Fly is similar to that of the ordinary house fly and can be complete from eggs to adult in just 4 weeks. The mated female fly lays eggs in your fruit, and after the maggot has wrought its destruction, it drops to the ground, spending a short period as a pupa in the soil under the tree before hatching out again as an adult.
Chooks (as well as Guinea Fowl) will happily scratch around and feast on the pupae and newly hatched adults (it takes a day for their wings to harden enough for flight) so incorporate a chicken run amongst susceptible fruit trees during the fruiting season.
When the adult female Fruit Fly pierces the skin of the fruit and lays her eggs, the wound either weeps or leaves a dimple.
You can arrest the life cycle by removing affected fruit from the tree and sealing them into a black rubbish bin bag and leaving them in the sun for a few weeks before composting them or feeding them to your livestock.
AVOID PLANTING SUSCEPTIBLE VARIETIES
I once lived in a house that had a beautiful old apricot tree in the garden. But we never got to taste a single apricot, as all were ruined by Fruit Fly! Then I moved to where there were several varieties of plum, not one of which was affected. Fruit Fly rely on being able to pierce the skin of the fruit to infect it, so fruit with soft skin is more susceptible than that with tougher skin.
The most susceptible fruit varieties are figs, apples, pears, loquats, guavas, feijoas, cherries, stone fruit (especially apricots, peaches and nectarines) and even vegetables such as tomatoes and capsicum.
Fruit Fly resistant varieties include avocado (except thin-skinned Fuerte and Rincon), banana, blueberry, citrus, grapes, kiwifruit, lychee, mulberry, nashi pear, passionfruit, paw paw, pomegranate and tamarillo.
An effective Fruit Fly barrier must have a weave of less than 2 mm. Suitable materials are mosquito netting, gauzy curtain fabric, shade cloth and fly screen mesh.
You can drape it over the whole tree with it during fruiting (if you are planning on this approach either pick dwarf varieties or keep your tree pruned short) supported by a frame made of poly pipe arches. However, it will also screen out some of the sunlight.
Alternatively, you can make (or buy) special sleeves sized to tie around bunches of fruit on the tree. Commercial Fruit Fly exclusion bags are made of cloth or waxed paper. You should put them on as soon as fruit starts to form, and could combine the job with fruit thinning at the same time.
Fruit Fly barriers have the added advantage that they also exclude other pests such as birds and possums.
Bad news for controlling Fruit Fly in fruit trees and homemade pest solutions… Homemade Fruit Fly traps only generally trap the male flies, and are only effective while they are fresh. Nearly all the insects they trap are not even Fruit Fly. Their only practical use is as a monitoring tool to see how many Fruit Flies are around.
You can make a homemade Fruit Fly trap by hanging a plastic bottle in your tree with a small (1cm) entrance hole drilled near the top. You can bait it with a “tea” containing vegemite, urine or vanilla essence. Painting a bit of color around the entrance hole will attract more flies – yellow for the Mediterranean Fruit Fly and blue for the Queensland Fruit Fly.
Commercial baits are also available but again, as their action is based on pheromones, only attract the male flies. They are a feasible long-term way to reduce the population only if you live in an isolated area with few other sources of either fruit or Fruit Fly around.
Organic splash baits like Naturalure are good too. They are sprayed either on the foliage or onto a piece of plywood suspended in the tree early in the fruiting season and must be applied weekly (and after rain) to work well.
They are effective on both male and female flies and work by luring them with a specific protein feed attractant that is laced with a natural insecticide that kills the fly once ingested. Beneficial insects are not harmed.
Codling Moth can be a problem for apple growers in Australia that appears in spring and gets worse by Christmas as the population builds up.
The best approach is multi-faceted:
In spring (late October) put out some traps to check for the presence of male Codling Moths.
Dissolve 1 part sugar and 1 part molasses into a jar of water and cover with a 3/16 inch mesh (this will effectively trap the moths but not bees). Check daily.
If you see a few males then treat susceptible trees as follows:
CODLING MOTH TREE TREATMENT
Selectively spray the little clusters of blossom on your trees with a Pyrethrum based spray.
CODLING MOTH COCOON TRAPS
Band the trunk and larger branches of your apple trees by tying on 6 inch wide strips of cardboard (the type with a corrugated layer) in November, late December and February. These will provide attractive sites for the Codling Moth caterpillars to make their cocoons. Just check them for larvae and kill those you find.
Reduce the number of gypsy moth caterpillars in your trees by putting up barrier bands before the caterpillars start to hatch in mid-May. Caterpillars crawling up the trees will mire down in the sticky material and die. Bands can keep caterpillars from migrating to other trees or from climbing back up if they fall off the tree (surprisingly common!).
Make barrier bands using duct tape and a waterproof, sticky material such as the Tanglefoot or petroleum jelly. When the bark is dry, wrap duct tape around the tree, shiny side out, pressing the tape firmly into the bark cracks to prevent caterpillars from slipping under the bands. The tape should be wrapped a few inches wide and placed around the tree trunk at chest height – about four feet above the ground.
|Try using sticky barriers like duct tape and petroleum jelly to trap caterpillars from April into the summer.|
A band of duct tape is needed to protect the tree bark from the sticky material, which could disfigure or kill the tree if applied directly. Smear the sticky material along the center of the band. (If you choose to use petroleum jelly, allow at least two inches of uncoated band under the jelly as it can melt and flow downward.) Periodically check the barrier bands to make sure they have not been clogged with insects, dirt or debris. Apply more sticky material as needed check especially after a rain. You can take the barrier bands down in late July after the gypsy moth caterpillars have pupated.
Watch a video about making your own sticky band barrier trap out of duct tape.
You must remove bands by early June. Otherwise the bark can rot when the insulation gets wet. Bands should again be put up in September and can remain all winter.
To band your tree using foil-faced insulation:
To help control cankerworms now is the time to make sure your bands are up. See the above link or visit our cankerworm page to learn more about their biology.
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Baiting is the most effective method used to get rid of carpenter ants. At DoMyOwnPestControl.com we provide the professional do it yourself pest control products and friendly expertise to help you with all of your carpenter ant control needs. The following tips and guidelines can help you launch a successful carpenter ant baiting program that will result in total colony elimination.
1- Outdoor Baiting
Indoor carpenter ant nests are most likely "satellite" colonies connected to a "main" colony in an old log stump or other outdoor nesting site. Since there is a always a continuous stream of workers traveling between the indoor satellite nests and the main nest outside, the primary goal of any exterior baiting program is to create a band of bait in between the two nests so that worker ants are sure to pick it up on the trail. The workers will share the bait, thus spreading the poison throughout the colony.
How To Apply Bait Outdoors : Apply a 2 to 4 foot band of bait such as Niban Granular Bait or Advance Carpenter Ant Bait around the perimeter of your home and around the base of trees, firewood piles, stumps, or other places carpenter ants might nest.
2- Indoor Baiting
To speed the control process, outdoor baiting should be combined with indoor baiting whenever possible. In addition to pumped up ammunition (more placements equals greater efficacy and control), indoor baiting also provides residual bait that will help to prevent re-infestation. To get residual control, use baits that will remain effective for longer periods of time, such as Niban-FG Fine Granular Bait or Advance Carpenter Ant Bait. For large or especially stubborn infestations, Maxforce Carpenter Ant Gel is your best bet for fast, powerful, and lasting control.
How to Apply Bait Indoors : Apply small placements in cracks and crevices, especially where ants are seen foraging or entering the structure. Inspect gel placement and reapply as needed. For optimum success, follow the directions printed on the individual product label.
Recommended Carpenter Ant Baits
1) Advance Carpenter Ant Bait - This protein-based bait is ideal for both outdoor and indoor application, and will hold up well under adverse weather conditions. Use outdoors as a broadcast application around and close to the perimeter of the structure (8oz. per 1/2 acre), or on the interior inside wall voids or in areas where ants forage.
2) Niban Fine Granular Bait (1 lb.) or Niban Granular Bait - 5lb. bag
Niban granular bait is moisture resistant and will not degrade from heat or sunlight exposure, so it is great for indoor or outdoor use. It will also remain effective through 2 inches of rain. Niban granules are virtually odorless. FG Niban comes in a convenient applicator bottle with a dusting tip
3) Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel
This sweet-based bait provides rapid control in 3-5 days. Maxforce gel is especially effective on large or stubborn ant colonies-it uses a delayed action kill so the bait is passed throughout the carpenter ant colony. Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel formulation stays attractive for up to two weeks and holds up well outside as well as inside.
*Dynamic Duo: Advance Carpenter Ant Bait and Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel together maybe be used in combination to provide for both the sweet-feeding and protein-feeding needs of the carpenter ant colony.
Prevent Future Carpenter Ant Infestations
For more information, visit our Carpenter Ant Control page
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Ants are a common nuisance around the home, parks, schools, and anywhere people congregate. Most people identify ants by their coloring, often red or black, but there are actually almost 1,000 species of ants in the United States alone!
There are several different methods of treating for ants and various products available to get rid of ants and prevent them from returning to your property. Identifying what type of ants are invading your space is important when selecting a treatment method and product. Some methods work better for certain ant species than other methods and not every ant killer product is labeled for all ant species.
Read below to quickly identify what type of ant may be on your property, decide if you have ants or termites, and learn the many different species of ants. At the bottom of this guide is a breakdown of the various ant species, including:
Ants share the following characteristics: