Pest Notes

  • Aphids   Whilst visiting NZ, folk were telling me to spray Sunlight liquid soap to control Aphids.  Ref:  Sheryl
  • Ants 1 tsp fish catfood and 1 drop of Frontline (for fleas). Put it across their tracks and they take it back to the nest.
  • Bats/Flying Fox   The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne had a major problem with bats and solved the problem when they discovered that bats didn’t like loud noise so by producing a variety of loud noises, the bats eventually moved on! 
  • Protecting fruit from bats   I picked up a brochure from Downfall Creek Information Centre on Rode Rd, McDowell which is well worth a visit. It mentions that the proper way to protect fruit is to use 30% - 50% shade cloth pegged over the fruiting branches and this protects the flying fox from getting caught up in netting.
  • Bird Problem:  My aunt in Cairns uses black mesh or you can also use insect screen to put over your fruit. She just uses pegs to clip it into place and uses it on her pawpaws to stop birds, possums etc.. Ref: Sheryl
  • Note from Hawaii: Flocks of birds were raiding broccoli but was able to solve the problem by spraying with chili pepper. Did it only once and the birds never came back. Wonder if this method could also work on other pests as once the animal gets a hot mouthful they associate the pain with the crop.
  • Spoke to a chap from Brighton who told me that his way of keeping birds off his fruit was to install overhead fishing line about 450cm apart above your trees so depending what type of bird you are having problems with, then it would be less than a wingspan apart. Must visit him.  Ref:  Sheryl
  • Brush Turkey  is the correct name for this bird - not Bush Turkey.  Muriel Webb was telling me a good way to keep Brush Turkeys away from your garden. Put all your cut grass after you mow into a pile away from your vegetable patch. Make a well in the centre and put all your kitchen vegetable scraps in the centre. Worked a treat at her place!  You might have to put out rat bait though! 
  • Caterpillars  -  Use Dipel – BT  is specific to caterpillars, it won't kill anything else.  It kills a few days after it is ingested by caterpillars.  The specifity is dependant on an alkaline environment & receptors in the gut of the insect.  The receptor protein is only found in the gut of butterflies & moth caterpillars.   Ref:  David Popp
  • Custard Apple Book  Integrated Pest Disease Management Manual for Custard Apple by Dr Alan George, Roger Broadley, Don Hutton, Simon Redpath, Bob Nissen, David Bruun and Geoff Waite - Maroochy Research Station. This is a really first class manual and was funded by the Australian Custard Apple Growers Association in conjunction with Horticulture Australia Ltd. Highly Recommended
  • I was reading that Pepper Vines deter insects in Sri Lanka and was wondering if that is the reason why Willie only has a minor problem with Fruit Fly as she grows Pepper.
  • Fruit Fly Traps   Interesting comment by Linda Brennan, a horticulturalist in Brisbane:
    I have made a number of different fruit fly traps using vegemite, beer etc and they collect more beneficials than fruit flies. However, making traps with the lure inside does work!
  • Fruit Spotting Bug in Avocadoes  John Hatch says that if you keep your tree open ie cut out the centre, then you’ll suffer less of a problem. The tree needs white water-based paint on its trunk and as well as shade for protection in its early stages. Also use an anti-rot fungicide a few times a year. 
  • The Bishop Museum in Hawaii has recently made Insects of Micronesia available online as PDFs at:           Photos of pests:
  • Snails:  Place your coffee grounds in your garden where you don’t want snails and slugs. Research funded by the Aust. Veg. Industry and Horticulture Australia has shown that caffeine achieved 100% mortality of adult slugs when used as a soil drench at rates as low as 0.5%
  • Macadamia Flower Caterpillar  To stop the Macadamia flower eating caterpillar, mix up some pyrethrum and pest oil according to directions on the packs and spray it on once a week while the tree is in flower. Pyrethrum is a contact killer – it is not residual or systemic and the pest oil is to make it stick. - Ref:  Paul Andrew
  • Copper seems to be best after the small fruit have formed and will avoid the black spots from anthracnose.
  • Mangoes   Note from member RM:  For your information we have been using school socks on our mangos for a couple of years with some success. It seems to reduce fruit fly and flying fox strikes. I am not sure if religious school socks are more powerful than state school socks! Worth some research though! 
  • Monolepta Beetle  - Red Shouldered Leaf Beetle. Paul Recher says that the classic method of handling monolepta when you know they are around is to make a fire and the beetles fly into it. He was told this in 1977 when he worked as nursery manager at a farm for the handicapped with the big avocado plantation where a few trees were getting hit hard. I then read the same thing in a book about the fire thing being used in late 1890's early twentieth century.
  • Moths   I use a black light to monitor the presence of moth in the area. When needed, I spray with a cheap insecticide in a 5 metre radius of the black light at hourly interval or so at night time. It is better than blanket spraying the whole area during the day time. I also spray vermitea and lime-sulphur. If you rely on insecticide and calendar spraying, you need to spray twice a week from pre-bloom to until the fruit has attained the size of a pingpong ball. Use the 40 watt fluorescent tube light by G.E.  Install it on ordinary outdoor type fluorescent lamp housing. You can also try hanging a white t-shirt under it. The T shirt will sort of glow in the dark and attract more moths. Ref:  Alexis de Manual – Philippines
  • Pinto Peanut by Jason Spotswood.  I use pinto peanut a lot around my orchard. Typically for the first year, it is slow growing to start off, but after that, it can take off rapidly. With my microbe trials, I have found that pinto peanut cuttings take off much more quickly (in about a month) when microbes have been used on the soil. Just be aware that rats and other peanut loving animals will work over your soil from time to time to eat the underground nuts.
  • Pesky Possums  Noreen Lehmann one of our members from Victoria wrote a lovely long letter to me and included some anti-possum tips:  As possums are vegetarians they hate chomped on old bones placed on the roof and strung along fences like necklaces. There may be something in this as some friends swear by little bags of Blood and Bone. Install security lights overhead and put teddy bears from garage sales (wrapped in plastic) among the greenery! Susan Guest says that her latest deterrent is to spray Indonesian fish sauce and a bowl of freshly chopped apple daily.  Noreen donated to the club some time ago a huge number of books on preserving and also preserving equipment so do borrow it and bring in a sample of your work on club nights.

    Terry says that possums hate the smell of blood and bone so get some ladies stockings, cut off the legs, put a handful of blood and bone in each leg, tie off then hang it in your Mango tree etc.  If your tree is really large, then you can swing it up into the tree!!  Terry puts about 3 in a large tree.

  • Termites   CSIRO has produced a detailed website on termite detection and eradication. Please read it but the following is a summary of the technique: Termites are common in all areas of Qld. Termites cannot survive without a continuous supply of water so irrigating your garden can support a colony that would normally not survive our dry winter. Termites build underground tunnels to control the moisture level of the nest while searching for cellulose as a food supply, to detect their presence, a bait is supplied so that you can easily check if they are in the vicinity of your house. Get a standard polystyrene box with a lid and using a bread saw or equivalent tool, cut some slits 30cm long and 2cm wide in the bottom. Scrape back the garden mulch and sit the box on the ground ensuring that the base makes good contact with the soil. Put some pieces of untreated pine timber or corrugated cardboard in the box (use the type that is only corrugated on one side as that is the best) sprinkle the bait with water, put on the lid and check at 2 day intervals. It may take a month for termites to find your trap but they may also be active enough to find the bait after a day. Having located termites, the technique is basically to coat some termites in a poison which they then carry back to the main nest and by their behavior of social grooming, eventually the termite queen is poisoned and after her death their colony will also die. The type of poisons used are usually arsenic trioxide but since this is a restricted chemical, it is only available to pest controllers so having discovered termites you are committed to pay a pest exterminator to eradicate them.   Ref:  Bob Backhouse

  • Grahame Jackson says that members might like to know about the new on-line diagnostic information of exotic plant pests and diseases available on the PaDIL website - the Pest and Disease Image Library. It has been developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity in collaboration with a number of organisations concerned with plant health in Australia.  Plant Protection News from the Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer says:   A web-based toolbox to aid with the diagnosis of exotic plant pests and diseases is now available.  The Plant Biosecurity Toolbox provides plant health workers with a collection of detailed diagnostic information on exotic plant pests.  It includes:  information on biology and taxonomy of pests, diagnostic morphological, biochemical and molecular tests, images of pests, host symptoms and damage reference materials and links to related websites, with contact details for experts and accredited diagnostic laboratories. The functions and content of the toolbox will continue to evolve to ensure diagnostic protocols can be accessed in the field.  The Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity developed the toolbox in collaboration with a number of organisations concerned with plant health in Australia. 
    Sheryl:  Padil is a great website – check out the many varied photos of the Fruit Piercing Moths and also have a look at 

  • White Oil Recipe: Cup of oil, cup of water, a few lux flakes - mix in a vitamiser then dilute it 10:1 when you go to use it. 

Article compiled by Sheryl Backhouse