I have insects on my blackcurrant bushes. There are flys, ants and eggs.
My question is are the ants eating the pests and therefore best left to get
on with it or would I be best to spray or to try to remove them. I am
trying to grow fruit organically so insecticide is a last resort.
The 'eggs' are probably aphids. The ants are tending the aphids which are sort
of like the cows of the ant colony. You can kill the aphids with an
inecticidal soap spray, such as Safer's. The ants will bring new aphids to the
currants once you've killed off their cows, so you'll have to spray for aphids
every few days or so, as needed.
Here in Zone 6A (southern ON) my black currants are coming in by the
bucketful. If your currants are ripening, it's not worth doing much more than
rubbing the aphids and ants off when you pick the currants. No biggie. Aphids
are a fact of life in the garden.
As for the flies ... do you have a compost, or garbage near by? The flies are
probably not a problem for the black currants. They tend to be attracted to
currants that have dropped and are rotting, or damaged ones on the bush.
An even better idea is to find the ant's nest and use a bait on them.
Do this -- Squish one of the ants between your fingers. Then smell
your crushed-finger-ant. If it has a seriously-strong odor smelling
something like DEET then what you have are Odorous House Ants, and they
cannot be controlled just using bait.
If you want to go 100% organic, then use a little dish soap with water
to treat your plants. It works well, but you'll have to use it often.
If the ants dont have a powerful odor or no odor at all, bait will
probably work. Try to find one listed for Fire Ants, Pavement Ants,
Pharoah Ants and Little Black Ants which will help ensure your ants
will take the bait. Expect results in 2-4 weeks.
One more thing:
Follow the directions on the packaging EXACTLY.
Well, dish 'soap', or dishwashing liquid, is not organic. It's not really
soap. It's detergent and it contains fragrances and other additives. It's
harsh and can burn the leaves of plants if you use too much. 1 teaspoon
per gallon of water is considered safe, but use at your own risk. Pure
soap is a better bet. Dilution depends on the soap. Premixed solution,
such as Safer's, is readily available and easy to use for gardening
Really the only ingredient needed is the Sodium Laurel Sulfate, or
Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
These ingredients are foaming agents, also known as surfactants. They
basicly make water "wetter". Water will normally pool on or fall off
insects due to the waxy layer on the outside of their exoskeleton. A
surfactant will allow the water to completely cover the bug and
actually soak into its' spiracles. This essentially drowns the bug.
I'm not sure if you can find a surfactant anywhere, but let me forewarn
you, a little goes a looooooooong way. One teaspoon of the stuff I use
will turn 3 gallons of water into 25 gallons of very dry foam.
I don't believe that a surfactant will harm plants... but someone
inform us. I'm curious about this.
Ah, but this can be applied with a yard-fertalizer... the kind you
attach to a hose.
But - mix the surfactant veeeery weakly. In other words, about three
drops in the whole 1-quart container. That should last long enough to
hit them all. Just lay it on thick and expect bubbles.
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