Friday, 3 February 2017

Caterpillars - Buxus sempervirens

The following we received from Dominique Urban:

How to protect and treat Box (Buxus)

The plants are attacked by an insect, “pyralis” (Fr : pyrale). (or meal moth, eastern firefly and big dipper firefly)

They can be protected and treated by spraying products against  la pyrale du bois” or “la pyrale
du chou” (the same product for both).

The caterpillar that does all the damage

If you prefer to use organic sprays, there is one called “Solabiol” which is available at Racine in Draguignan and probably other places.

Box ravaged by the caterpillar

Asian Hornets - the damage they do - how to eliminate them

Dominique Urban made us aware of the damage the Asian Hornet is causing in France.  The following is her input:

Eliminating the Asian Hornets (Fr : “frelons asiatiques”)

These hornets, recently arrived in our part of the country from Asia, feed on bees. They stay near
the beehives and catch them on their way in or out of the hives.

The damage to the bee population is enormous, specially as when this damage is added to that caused by weedkillers. Some beekeepers have lost most of their bees.

There is a very simple solution to eliminate many female frelons and thus significantly reduce, year after year, their total numbers :

In Spring, the female frelon looks for sugary food necessary to prepare her eggs (she lays about a thousand!), and still keeps looking for it when it becomes carnivorous.   So we can lay the frelon traps from the end of February to the end of Summer.

You can either buy a wasp trap and hang it from a branch, not too high, and fill it with the kind of
product shown on the photo or, if you like DIY, you can make one from two plastic bottles, one with a large neck at the base of the trap inserted inside the bottom of the other one (used as a tunnel bringing the hornets in).

For the liquid, you can use anything sugary such as water with jam or sugar, or beer…

If there are hornets’ nests near your garden, you’ll capture enormous quantities :  in our fairly small
garden we catch more than 300 with three traps each year !  We never see them in the wild and would never have thought there was a problem !   If you are in a place where the frelons haven’t yet arrived, you’ll catch wasps and big black flies . . . . . so the traps are multi-purpose !

If you like honey and think that bees are necessary for the human race to survive, put up your traps

now !

Asiatic Hornet's Hive

Thursday, 2 February 2017

How to make an organic pest-repellent plant spray

Tineke Stoffels mentioned this plant spray on our last garden group meeting.  She has used this spray  last summer, it was very effective against lice and spider mite.  She even sprayed her Buxus with the mixture and had no problems with the small caterpillars that devour the Buxus before you realise they are there.

The recipe below mentions a blender, no need, she chops up the ingredients and puts it into a used plastic milk bottle, adds the water and screws on the top. She leaves it to marinate for at least 24 hours.  After straining the mixture, Tineke adds a dash of washing up liquid, she finds the spray clings better to the plant.

How to Make Onion Juice for Plant Spray

A blender offers a convenient means to puree onions and other spray ingredients.

Garden crops and ornamental plants throughout the landscape are potentially bothered by many different types of destructive pests. Rather than rely solely on commercially available or synthetic pest control products, you may opt to create your own pest-repelling plant spray. One potential effective ingredient in a homemade pest spray is onion, which has a strong odor offensive to many pests. Combining an onion with garlic and pepper to make a spray further increase its effectiveness against pests that chew on plant leaves or suck out plant fluids./

  • Blend about six cloves of garlic, one large onion and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper or two whole peppers together in a blender or food processor.
  • Combine the blended onion, garlic and pepper with a litre of water and let the mixture sit in a refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
  • Pour the mixture through a strainer or cheesecloth into a jar to separate the solid mash from the liquid.
  • Bury the separated solids shallowly in areas of your garden or yard near plants that are particularly bothered by pests.
  • Pour the onion solution into a spray bottle
  • Spray pest-infested or vulnerable plants thoroughly with the onion spray.
  • Store any unused spray in the refrigerator. Use it within two weeks, spraying the plants every few days and following any rainfall or overhead irrigation.

Things You Will Need:

Garlic cloves (at least six)
Large onion
Cayenne powder or one or two peppers
Strainer or cheesecloth
Spray bottle
Biodegradable dish soap


Add about a tablespoon of biodegradable dishwashing liquid to the already-steeped spray solution to increase its effectiveness against certain pests.

Test any homemade pest spray on a few leaves in an inconspicuous part of the plant and monitor these leaves for any injury caused by the spray for a day or two before treating the entire plant.


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