Well, for the first few years the lemon and lime tree were just doing the growing thing. For the kaffir lime tree - that was fine cause we were after the leave off that tree, but for the lemon, I was getting a bit worried as I was keen on being able to pick fresh lemons and use them when ever I wanted - and it simply wasn't happening.
A few years ago I spotted a beetle on the lemon tree. A year or so later, there were quite a number more. By the time I realised that these bugs may have something to do with my lack of lemons, I had an infestation. I consulted Dr Google and discovered that these kinda pretty bugs were in fact Harlequin beetles - or Stink Bugs to the kids - and they were sapping all the life out of my new lemon tree growth.
They needed to go. Like most of you reading this, I'm not to keen on chemicals for lots of reasons and so I decided that there must be a better way.
Here's what I did...
In the first instance, I made up a boiled garlic, chili, soap mixture that is meant to deter bugs from your plants. In the case of these beetles, I was better off knocking them to the ground and bopping them on the head with the bottle for all the distress I inflicted on them with my spray. I wouldn't say they revealed in it, but it sure as heck didn't slow them down.
|This is an old dog flea bottle now used for garlic chilli spray!|
I tried blasting them off with a high pressure hose. It was very satisfying. About 1/2 an hour later after a shower and a cuppa to celebrate the departure of the bugs, I noticed something moving in the grass. Every single one of those bugs were heading back to the tree!!! I couldn't believe it. Within an hour, the tree had all its bugs back in place, sucking away at my lemon flowers!!!
The solution that finally worked for me is a bit gruesome but very effective. I got out the vacuum cleaner and simply gave those little suckers a taste of their own medicine! I just sucked 'em right off the tree and into my wee brown paper bag filled vacuum cleaner!
Now if you are going to try this - here's a few pointers!
First electricity and water don't mix, so watch were you have the plug and lead in the garden.
Secondly, this doesn't actually kill them.... So do it on rubbish day just before the truck is due so you can put the bag straight into the bin with its twitching smelly cargo. If you are so inclined, a quick squirt of fly spray into the bag will probably deal with them - but for me that defeats the purpose of the exercise. If you don't have a bag vacuum cleaner - borrow one. I don't think I could cope with trying to get them out of a bagless vacuum cleaner...
Oh, and take the vacuum and bag to the bin - the live ones start crawling out quickly and its freaky (well for me anyway!)
The whole operation makes my tummy squirm. If it makes you too queasy, I'm guessing a 10 year old will think its a real life video game and get right into it for you... :0
And you may not even have to bribe them!?!
I have had a note in my diary for years about this time of the year to do it and I'm seeing a huge decline in the Harlequin bug population each time. The other advantage of this method is that it is selective. The lady bugs and spiders are still there and able to get on with doing what it is that they do. They don't get caught up in the chemical warfare as collateral damage.
Green-ness: 5/5 for not using chemicals. 3/5 for 10 minutes worth of electricity... Unless you signed up for green power... Then you can have a 4/5
Frugal-ness: 5/5 If your vacuum bag is full and needs to go in the bin anyway so you don't have to waste a new one.
Time cost: probably one of the worst 10 minutes of my life!
Skill level: Vacuuming and dry retching....
Fun -ness: Not at all.