Help! Tiny bugs on my laurel (bay) bush!

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by siduri, May 20, 2012.

  1. siduri

    siduri

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    I finally got rid of the dread white shell-like bugs of my laurel bush (see old post if you want) .  I cut it down, washed it all with dish detergent, and put mineral oil on all the cut ends. (I read it somewhere, and i presume it suffocates them in the holes they made in the branches.  Finally this spring it put out tons of leaves and looked healthy! 

    Except now i have tiny brown flying bugs that look like miniature fruitflies, except the wings stay close to the body when they're sitting on the leaf so they look slimmer than fruitflies and are smaller, and they (i presume it;s them) seem to lay some eggs under the edges of the tender new leaves and the leaves fold backwards like a nice little cradle for them!

    Aargh. 

    I washed each leaf with dish detergent again, got all the bugs off, cut of every single leaf they had laid eggs on, three days in a row.  The little bug(ger)s come back as soon as the detergent is dry. 

    WHAT CAN I DO

    are there any home remedies?  I don't want to use insecticides and my local plant nursery is full of ignorant people who say whatever comes to their mind and always try to sell you insecticides.  They apparently don;t know about ladybugs.  I may have to travel further away, but meanwhile does anyone have a solution?
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    There's a brand of "insecticidal" soap availalable in the US. It's fairly effective. Washes off easily for culinary use of the food. Safer's Insecticidal Soap.

    It's at its most effective when you can dip whole small plants into the solution, but sprays on pretty well too.

    You might have some success with diatomaceous earth, but it's hard to apply to the tree effectively. This is fossilized diatoms, whose pointy structure gets into the insect joints as they move, then absorbs their moisture, killing them. Quite safe to use, easiest to use on floors and such though for things like ants. Maybe rub/brush it onto the leaves and limbs.

    You might also look at your soil. I've had a lot of trouble with herbs in house with insects with some part of the life cycle from the soil like white flies. Nematodes do a pretty good job on controlling those. Not the kind that will ruin your tomatoes, these are different. I got them from Richters in Canada when I used them last.

    Speaking of which Richters has a bunch of topics on bay laurels that may be useful to you.

    http://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=./QandA/Growing/Growing.html&cart_id=1036628.25138 From a cursory glance, they seem to recommend Neem oil. This is a vegetable based oil that is used to control lots of bugs. It's more toxic than the earlier listed ideas, but still quite safe

    I suspect none of these ideas will be easy to translate for finding in Italy. Hopefully Neem oil keeps the same name.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  3. zoebisch

    zoebisch

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    Are they damaging the plant?
     
  4. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Funny in days of old Laurel was used to retard bugs it was formed into a crown around the head(aka Caesar) to keep them away. Try taking some ivory dish detergent mixed with water and spray underside of plant as it could be mealy bugs. Sometime a bay leaf is placed into a grain or flour storage container to retard weevles.
     
  5. siduri

    siduri

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    Thanks all for your replies. 

    Ivory soap, and all the american brands, are not available here.  I tried the dish detergent on them and they all died, but more flew in.  Not mealy bugs, but tiny brown fruitfly looking things, but thinner in repose, smaller it seems.  They do damage the plant, laying their eggs on the underside of the leaf edge when it;s tender and the leaves grow with these turned-down edges and a bulge that's paler and they will certainly hatch armies of them.  I cut off all the little shoots and sprayed everytrhing with detergent.  the diatomaceous earth reminds me of my childhood chemistry set.  I felt so important to have a substance in a test tube with a long scientific name like that!  I should be able to find it, the question is where.  Same for the neem oil. 

    thanks and any other suggestions are welcome. 
     
  6. zoebisch

    zoebisch

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    Hmm, I was digging a little...do they look like this:

    Bay Sucker

    Oftentimes when plants are stressed and still recovering it can be a period prone to attack.  I'm wondering if you could use something like a mosquito netting to keep them off until the plant can adjust.  It seems though that most of what is recommended is a systemic insecticide if the infestation is bad, otherwise they recommend to keep doing what you are doing (pick and prune).
     
  7. siduri

    siduri

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    Yes, that's it!!!  thank you.   but how did it come out in Italian!!??  I clicked on the link called "bay sucker" and found psilla del lauro.  Magical!
     
  8. zoebisch

    zoebisch

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    Hehe...well when I discovered the latin name based on the description, I found a link that had the Italian.  Knowing a little about you I decided that was best. :)
     
  9. siduri

    siduri

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    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  10. geno

    geno

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     diatomaceous earth is used in many swimming pool filters so a pool chemical store in your area may have an open bag since a 25 kilo supply would likely last a lifetime.