Post date: Jun 24, 2012 12:35:12 PM
Last year we had a sever Rose Chafer problem. It eventually decimated our roses and turned our willow trees into "areas to avoid". Every willow branch was covered with bugs. We tried organic soap solutions. We swear they laughed at us as they showered and soaked in the soap. In desperation, we finally moved to more potent measures.
This year, however, we decided to be more careful with our control methods of pests. We are, after all, eventually going to eat apples from these very trees. Did we mention that the Rose Chafers really like fruit trees? The silver lining to Rose Chaffers - if there is one - is that they are a 1 cycle a year pest. So by mid to late summer they disappear until the next summer. It turns out that their larvae (or grub) over winters in the soil eating grass roots; they will not damage a lawn.
We have come to realize there is no "one application" solution. A two pronged approach is required to correct the problem. First we were recommended an organic clay product called Surround. Surround is clay which has been pulverized into a fine powder. Once mixed with water it is sprayed onto the tops and bottoms of the leaves you wish to protect. This product does not kill bugs; it discourages them from eating the leaves. Afterall, who wants to eat mud? As an added bonus, it provides some protection from the sun by reflecting the sun's rays preventing leaf sunburn.
Down sides. This list is long. Is it has to be reapplied after heavy rains and gives plants a white appearance. List done. No, seriously that is it. With the dry heat wave we are experiencing had the white appearance and reapplication has been the least of our worries. Surround can be used up to the day of harvest as long as you don't mind rinsing the clay off of the fruit before eating or pressing. With our apples, we think this will be a fine solution.
As the product doesn't kill the bigger bugs, it just moves them to our other plants, our next plan of attack is going to be beneficial nematodes. Nematodes are a small bugs that eats bigger bugs. Think of it as tiny, tiny small grubs that would rather eat larger grubs. Applied to the soil around our trees, it will allow the nematodes to attack the larvae. Fewer Rose Chaffer larvae should mean fewer Chaffers next year. Check out pictures of the spray process here. We use a full body suit, goggles, dust mask and gloves when spraying any particulate.