Another great meeting!

Today’s talk on Backyard Bugs was enjoyed by a large number of West LA and  LA Chapter members.  Matt Daugherty gave us a crash course in Entomology and then went into the specifics of how we can deal with the pesty (and protect the non-pesty) bugs.  He highly recommended becoming familiar with the UC Riverside Integrated Pest Management site that uses a multi pronged and more holistic approach to managing our orchards.

Matt focused especially on the Asian Citrus Psyllid which is the known transmitter of the huanglongbing (or Citrus Greening) disease in citrus.  This disease has totally decimated the Florida and Brazilian citrus industry but fortunately hit California late enough for protective measures to be put in place quickly.  Aggressive monitoring and removal of infected trees has thus far kept the disease (but not the psyllids!) contained.  We all have a responsibility to honor the guidelines about not sharing scion wood or buying citrus trees from anything but certified nurseries.  After all, the disease was first found in a multi-grafted backyard tree.

One of the easiest (hah) things, Matt mentioned we could do was control ants in our yards, since the ants vigorously farm many disease causing insects, including the Asian Citrus psyllids.

Most of us are dealing with the tiny but widespread Argentine ants, so the ant bait sold at nurseries, Home Depot, etc is too strong to attract them.   An easy home brew involves mixing 1 cup hot water with 1/2 cup of white sugar.  When it has dissolved, mix in very slightly less than 1/2 tsp of boric acid or 2/3 tsp borax (yes, the 20 Mule Team Borax over your washer). Let it sit for several hours then mix again before using.  You can put the bait in small glass jars with an ant sized hole poked in the lid or plastic containers like hummus comes in with a hole poked in the side.  It’s easier if the containers are clear so you can see when they are filled with ants.  Throw in some cotton balls so the ants have something to sit on while they drink.   You don’t want them to die there (though some inevitably will drown) but rather bring the bait back to their nests and — hopefully — kill the queen.  Please don’t leave the bait uncovered because bees (and small children)  will also be attracted to its sweetness. Good bye bad bugs!

DIY trap for Black Fig Fruit Fly

Chapter member (and SD organic commercial farmer) Ellen Maisen found an interesting article from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It  was aimed at olive growers who are battling the olive fruit fly but the traps seem identical to what are being proposed for Silba Adipata McAlpine (the Black Fig Fruit Fly).

These are the instructions in the article for an easy DIY trap.  In the absence of torula yeast, I have found that Marmite and other yeast products work pretty well also as attractants.

Olipe Trap

Olipe traps are made with 1.5 to 2 liter plastic non-food bottles, with several 4 to 5 mm sized holes drilled or melted at the top, and baited with 3 to 4 torula yeast tablets per liter of water. Pheromones may or may not increase trap catches.

  • Place two traps for each 5 to 10 acre block for monitoring and one trap per tree for mass trapping control. Mass trapping usually does not work as a stand-alone treatment, but can supplement the efficacy of other treatments or reduce the number of treatments by reducing the overall number of flies in the orchard. Flies attracted to the bait, crawl into the bottle through the holes at top, and drown.

Black Fig Fruit Fly redux

As Sagi pointed out at today’s meeting, many fig growing areas around the world continue to be able to  harvest crops despite the fact that this fly has been there for decades.  The appearance of BFFF here is not a cause for total despair but it is definitely a reason to be vigilant in inspecting your figs, collecting and dissecting any that drop prematurely, safely disposing of any that are infested (NOT in compost or yard waste) and being very wary of accepting figs or potted fig plants from unknown sources.

If you do find larvae  in your figs, please contact the CFDA. 

If you don’t have them yet but are concerned, join the ourfigs. com forum for up to date discussions and advice.

A webpage that discusses different home brew lure recipes and a home-made trap is here.    BTW, a 5mm hole in the US basically requires a 7/32nd drill bit.

I have just ordered 100 1.5 ml propylene test tubes if anyone wants some to try experimenting with lures.  I also have some hexanol but thus far am not seeing any results with it.

Good luck!

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