Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Variegated guava air-layers, take number 2

The variegated guava is heavily infested with whitefly.

I'm not sure if the whitefly arrived first, or the Argentine ants brought them to farm them for honey dew - the classic chicken and egg situation.

In a drastic attempt to rid the poor tree of the whitefly, I sprayed it with volk oil, which burned the leaves and left ugly spots on the fruit. It did appear to reduce the whitefly population though, but I see the tell-tale trail of ants running up and down the trunk, so they are still there.

Extensive searching has brought up few suggestions to control the ants. Most sites suggest boric acid in a sugar solution, but also states it never completely eradicates the ants, merely brings their numbers down. The other solution that seems to help is an insecticidal gel that contains fipronil, which acts slow enough to allow the foragers to take it back to the colony and feed to the queen and larvae, eventually killing the whole colony. The problem with the gel is that at almost $5 for 27g, it would cost a lot to eradicate the ants from my 15000 sq ft. So I've opted for the boric acid solution. Made my own bait with sugar / water and boric acid, now I'm using used water bottles, take the lid off, then squeeze a little of the solution into the bottle, then place the opening close to a big concentration of ant nests. Keep a watch on it and refill when needed.

In addition many also suggest you limb up your trees / shrubs so limbs are at least 12 inches from the ground, then implement some measures to prevent the ants from running up the tree, i.e. sticky molasses, grease .....

Since I am going to limb up the guava tree, I decided to do another round of air layers. The lowest branches that will be removed were all layered. So now I have to wait and see. Probably about 4 months or so before the roots will be strong enough. That should be around June, which is normally our wettest, not too hot yet and a very humid month here in South Florida and an excellent time to sever the new plants from the mother plant and transplant them.

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