(Pest control) Ants

It seems that ants these days have grown accustomed to ant poison in pellet form, and largely avoid them.

Seeing ants congregate and climbing up and down my vitex trifolia plant which seems to be constantly infected with scales (although daily spraying of garbage enzyme helps A LOT to keep their numbers down) drives me a bit nutty since ants farm scales for their sweet nectarish secretions. Good for the ants, bad for my plant. So, it’s them which has to go, both ants and scales.

I found the whole ant trail this morning, and as a first round of attack, I sprayed home-made white oil on all of them. The white oil consists of about 30ml water, one teaspoon of cooking oil, and one squirt of dishwashing liquid. Unfortunately (in the past at least), these ratios are too strong for plants’ leaves, so one has to make sure that the plant has been watered beforehand, or you don’t spray on the leaves directly at all.

I made sure all the ants on the trail were dead. I must have killed hundreds of them. If I continue doing that every day, I expect to see larger and larger ants coming out each day, which mean that the nest’s worker ants has diminished and they’re sending out soldier ants now.

I’ve tried the corn meal method, but I cannot be sure it works since 1) I can’t see the ants when they take the corn meal back to their nest and I’m not sure if they really do explode; 2) my packet or corn meal got infested by some weevil things.

However, I will be dunking the whole pot of my vitex trifolia in warm water soon to kill the ants which have made a nest in it. And couple it up with a two-pronged attack by spraying more white oil or white vinegar on any other ants I see.

Credit: Google Images

WikiHow contains some amusing techniques to kill ants without using pesticides


(Pest control) Red spider mites and mealy bugs

After doing months of pest control in trying to eradicate the red spider mites, I finally got tired (yups, I’m way too impatient) and hosed down all my mints to get the RSMs away. So now they’re clean. But the leaves have a lot of stains from my seaweed emulsion though. Heh.

Also, found two lone mealy bugs pestering one of my mints. So I flicked them off and drowned them in water. It’s fun to see them on their backs, their wriggling legs thrashing around, and drowning.

Yes, I am mean.

But my mints are now pest free.

(Pest control) Dealing with pests

Since around late March, my red spider mites (RSMs) problem escalated till many plants were infected like crazy. I had to throw away a lot of my hydroponics spinach seedlings; I had to watch out for my lettuces; my mints and basils were exceptionally infected.

I’ve come to learn now that for dealing with the common pests, small daily prevention is better than spending weeks or even months on trying to contain the situation once the pests have gotten out of control.

It is exceptionally troublesome for edible plant growers, especially if they want to take the organic path. For myself, I don’t trust in using commercial pest killers (until things get totally crazy). I have a few spray bottles filled with different kinds of home-made solution for pest control:

1. Diluted seaweed extract with drops of tea tree essential oil – this is more of a daily prevention thing. The seaweed extract provides growth hormones for the plants. At the same time, I also spray beneath the leaves, and the tea tree oil helps to suffocate them.

2. Home-made white oil – solution of water with cooking oil and diswashing liquid, with a drop or two of tea tree oil. Used as a direct attack. If sprayed on plants before the plants are watered, it causes pretty severe leaf burn.

3. Water with a few drops of white oil – kept in the fridge to keep the solution cold.

With the daily spray of #1 and the alternate sprays of #2, my RSM problem has started coming under my control.

A week or more and I expect to see my plants more or less clear of these pests.

(Updates | Pest Control) Vitex trifolia; mulberry cuttings; red spider mites

Vitex trifolia

I got these as cuttings from a local nursery. The mother stock was a large tree over two meters tall. Since I’d been a regular customer at the nursery and one of the bosses knows me, he gave me some cuttings.

It’s supposed to be a pretty effective mosquito repellent. The leaves can be burnt for that purpose too.

I treated the cuttings I got (some time back in March or so) the same as mulberry cuttings – I stripped off the outer bark about one inch in length from the bottom of each cutting, applied rooting hormone, and firmed the soil around the cuttings; after which they were left in a bright but shaded area. They root surprisingly easily.

The plant now.

Healthy leaves.

Another set of leaves.

Mulberry cuttings

Got these mulberry cuttings from Chawanmushi of GCS (very kind lady!) The ones in the pictures are their second time sending out shoots. I think it should be safe by now to let the shoots form instead of snipping them off to direct energy to root development. But if not, well, give them a few more days, and I’ll snip them off for my dad’s tortoises.

Red spider mites

Still around, but getting them firmly under control. I saw that my vitex trifolia’s lower set of leaves were infected, so I snipped them off, sprayed white oil on the mites, then did a photo-shoot of their tiny carcasses.

Insignificant-looking red dots – killers of plants.

Leaves scarred by the mites.

Compared with the healthy leaves.

(Pest control) An all-out war

Great. I placed my mints all where they can get maximum sunlight for growth, and the next thing I know, 90% of the red spider mite infestation migrated there, happily building webs and stuff. The mints towards the inside of the corridor are fine – they’re not baked nor dried so much.

I’ve been on a weird mood lately, so what I did was water the plants, spray ice-cold water on them within five minutes to allow a thin layer of protection for the leaves (too lazy to wait for 30 minutes), then spray homemade white oil on them to torture the mites, and then cut off half the length off ALL my mints. They now look botak.

It was an intense and brutal prune. But the mints were getting so unruly anyway, so it was time. Fewer leaves = less space for the RSMs to hide in.

Mints are very resilient. They might lose all their leaves but will bounce back given enough water and sunlight.

(Pest control) Battle plan – one step farther

After using refrigerated seaweed extract didn’t seem to deter the red spider mites, I have gone one step farther – made my own white oil using a combination of vegetable oil, dishwashing liquid, and water.

I’ve watered the plants to build up their protection, and have just sprayed the mixture on the RSMs.

I still don’t want to buy any kind of pesticide…yet. But am looking at two – Liquid Deris Plus (which breaks down upon contact with air and light); white summer oil. Both are safe for edibles because they break down.

We’ll see how this home-made concoction goes.

I hope the RSMs suffocate.

I’ve left the little spider on my basils as alone as I can, though.

(Pest Control) Still an ongoing fight

I’ve been spraying my plants almost religiously with seaweed extract these few days in an attempt to get rid of the red spider mites. I’ve been misting my plants (and especially the undersides of their leaves) about four to five times everyday.

This morning, I realized that the originally infected plants seem to have gained more RSMs on certain leaves. From being simply scattered around, there seems to be a clear infestation now.

I went to google on RSMs and saw this page on how to deal with them. Apparently, just misting might not be good enough. Off goes my spray into the fridge.

This is a war I will win.

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