No sooner do we revel in the summer heat and enjoy the garden shade and patio areas when along comes the summer bugs to remind us they can take down anything given the chance. Of course, not all bugs are a problem, many are pollinators and part of the garden ecosystem but when they attack your favourite plant it’s time to sort them out.
Here at Eckards we always advocate taking the environment in consideration before using pesticides and to look at organic alternatives where possible. That said in an ornamental garden there are some bugs that are best controlled with a chemical insecticide before the plant succumbs.
It is also important that when one does use insecticides that one adheres to the dosage and application and to not use insecticides indiscriminately.
Our Most Common Bugs:
Its summer bug time and the three most prevalent in our local area are the Mole Crickets, Clivia Worm and Christmas Beetles.
Mole Crickets are identified by a rolling sound they make at night, the damage to lawns is visible by the lawn becoming loose and thin in patches as they burrow just beneath the surface.
Clivia Worm attacks the Clivia leaves this time of the year by burrowing through the leaf all the way into the base of the plant and it can kill your plants.
The Christmas Beetle eats lace like holes into the leaves of Roses, Fuchsias and Arums. They only come out in the early evening and can make your plants look quite unsightly.
Because of the nature if these bugs we recommend using a systemic insecticide – Efekto Plant Protector, as this goes into the plant with a residual of a few months.
What does Systemic or Contact mean:
Insecticides are either contact insecticides or systemic insecticides. Contact Insecticides need exactly that, they need to make contact with the bug. It won’t help to spray the leaves where there are no bugs it has to be the liquid that the insect comes into contact with. This can be a problem if sprayed to freely as it also then could make contact with beneficial insects by mistake. We recommend using them sparingly and when you can actually see the bug you’re spraying. Also if your irrigation comes on or it rains, it washes off.
We often recommend a Systemic insecticide as it works as a drench around the plant that you are trying to protect and then goes up through the root into the system of the plant and then protects the plant from the inside getting anything that bites chews or sucks on your plant. It does not wash off and has a residual effect. That also means that it won’t wash off with rain. BUT it also means that you cannot use it on veggies and herbs that you eat either.
The only way to truly be an organic gardener is to not spray anything at all and let nature take its course. By feeding with organic fertilisers, you get plants that are hardier and tougher to eat so there are naturally less bugs. Most of the organic sprays we sell work as repellent and need to be sprayed regularly. They make the leaves taste not so great for insect and they move on. It washes off with irrigation or rain so it’s an ongoing process but the only option to protect your veggies and herbs. The oil based organic sprays like Oleum will coat the insect and weaken them as well as limit them spreading.
Mealy Bug and Scale:
Mealy Bug and Scale show up late summer and autumn after hiding away under leaves and inside your lollipops and breeding away and often you only see them when it gets quite hectic. A systemic insecticide will get them sorted but if it is a bad infection a double dose by using a contact spray to weaken them and a systemic to finish them off might be required.
Take out the guess work
We do extensive training with our team and there are always trained horticulturalists instore to give you the best advice to get the problem sorted. Sometimes the simplest solutions work the best and can save you a lot of money in the end as well as save your plants.
Our top Tip: DO NOT USE DISHWASHING SOAP to spray on your plants regardless of what your grandma says. Besides the fact that it is impossible to gauge how much to use because a teaspoon does a whole sink full of dishes. Back in the day it may have been fine but with new technology and all the grease cutting action and more, what it does is get rid of the bugs but it also removes the natural waxy layer and cuticle of the leaves. This exposes the plant to serious sun damage and making it even more vulnerable to insect attack.