Mealybugs, stink bugs or little piggies are small animals that live in damp areas of the garden. They hide under dead leaves and almost always eat decaying organic matter. Except in some cases where, due to high humidity, they proliferate easily and can become a pest that feeds on certain fruits. Today we are going to get to know them a little more.
Know the woodlice
Mealybugs are terrestrial crustaceans that depend on humidity to survive, there are many species of them, among which the ball bugs, which are so called because when they are afraid, they make a ball like the insects can do. armadillos. Surely you know them, what child has not played with them as if they were bowling or marbles. They breathe thanks to humidity, which is why they depend on it and we can say that their role in nature is very important, as they decompose organic plant matter.
What do ball bugs eat?
They are small, social and harmless animals because woodlice do not bite or hurt people, they live in large groups, they like to hide under stones, logs or dead leaves where they tend to clump together. They are omnivores since they eat branches, leaves, roots that have fallen to the ground or small dead animals such as insects. Bunch bugs can also eat fallen fruit that is on the ground or, for example, strawberries if you have some low to the ground, they won’t hesitate to give them a bite, but who can’t resist strawberries?
This small crustacean can live up to 3 years, females are dark gray and larger than males, which are lighter greyish. Once mated, the female has an abdominal pouch where she incubates the eggs for 14 days until the young hatch. If we turn them over carefully, we can see them.
In the garden we can find them in the most humid places such as in the compost or vermicomposter, under the padding, under the logs that we have put in wood and even in the surroundings where we have stored water. Woodlice can also be found at home, in pots or in the bathroom.
Mealy insects, are they good or bad?
Well, woodlice can be beneficial but at the same time harmful because they break down organic matter, but if the conditions are very optimal, the high number of specimens will mean that there will be less food and they will devote themselves to feeding on all the plants that catch their step.
But the fact that there are too many specimens for this to happen is very rare, it normally happens during the rainy season from spring to autumn, because in summer they shelter from the heat. The rest of the woodlice that are not ball bugs are not harmful, I checked it because at home I have thousands of them in the vermicomposter, in the pots, loose on the roof and they do not affect the crops I plant.
In the compost bin they will help the organic matter to decompose sooner and in the vermicomposter it will help the worms to digest what the woodlice have eaten and thrown away.
It is considered a pest when it exceeds 60 individuals per square meter. And that’s where they can feed on the young plants that we’ve planted, so you have to make sure there’s no invasion or if you’re not going to over-plant, it’s always good to protect small plants with pet bottles.
How to get rid of moisture cochineal
If you live in an area with high humidity for most of the year, especially in the fall and winter, you should remove any mulch or padding, pruning scraps, crop scraps, and rotten fruit that may remain. on the ground, to prevent the bugs from proliferating by feeding on organic matter since in the spring they can be numerous and they begin to eat the seedlings that we plant. In Toni’s Huertina forum I have seen cases of invasion, do not hesitate to stop to see the photos and learn many other things.
If you already have an infestation of woodlice in your garden, we are going to see some natural and ecological remedies to combat them in order to keep them away from your precious crops. Let’s start with a few pitfalls.
Woodlice love potatoes and will be attracted to their smell. We can use the potatoes to catch the scale insects that approach at night by means of the manual method, taking those that hide below. To do this, we split a potato in 2, the bigger the better, and with a small spoon we remove the inner part to leave a kind of hole where they can take refuge. When we can go to the garden, we collect the potatoes to see how many we can catch.
Another method is to place pieces of potato inside traps made with pet bottles, we cut the base of the bottle and bury it, inside we place the potato and we can use a tile to cover the trap. When you are sowing in the spring, it is good to put these traps so that the woodlice do not eat the first shoots.
cheat with beer
Turns out the smell of barley attracts them too, you can put either the fart bottle trap or beer soaked rags. I don’t particularly like killing them, I prefer setting a trap where they fall and don’t die, I adopt them or release them elsewhere. In the photo you can see that I used banana peel, it’s also effective.
paper roll trap
Rolls of kitchen paper are ideal for trapping as it is a quick way to eliminate woodlice. They like moist, dark places, so we’ll wet the paper roll and put it somewhere we suspect there are quite a few scale insects and the next day check the trap. Remember to take a pot where you can pour the mealybugs that have hidden to prevent them from escaping. You can release them in another place or feed them to the hens, they are “critters” rich in calcium.
To eliminate woodlice at home, this method is also very good because they will not have much humidity or where to hide, so they will go to the shot when they detect the roll. Another simple method is to put a damp cloth, they will hide under it.
How to fight woodlice
If you already have an invasion by all the plants then you have to apply other methods. It is better to use ecological methods because if we use poison to kill woodlice we can kill many other animals that are part of the biodiversity of the soil and which can be very problematic for plants since we will leave them exposed to any pest.
At a liter of water a teaspoon of potassium soap, a teaspoon of 60º medicinal alcohol and a teaspoon of neem oil are diluted. Alcohol makes bedbugs move because that’s how soap and neem work on them by smothering them. If you do not have potassium soap, any other organic soap is valid so as not to harm the plants. It is applied directly to the ball bugs, to the affected leaves or under them and to the places they frequent. The same day, half an hour later, we renew the treatment because the alcohol will have brought them out. It must be repeated 3 times every 8 days, whenever we observe scale insects on the plants. As an additional ingredient, we can also add a teaspoon of Tabasco.
It is an off-white powder that is sold in agricultural and garden stores. It is fossilized seaweed so it is an environmentally friendly product, it is sold as a dusting and also wettable, which means it can be mixed with water to be applied by spraying. is sunk a table spoon of diatomaceous earth per liter of water. Shake well to mix product and apply as a spray to affected plants and soil. It is best to give the treatment in the afternoon to avoid the sun.
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There is also the possibility of applying diatomaceous earth directly on the ground, for this we will use 500 grams per 100 square meters. To apply this product it is advisable to protect yourself well because it is irritating.
garlic and oil
Garlic and neem oil mixed together or cooking oil in its absence can be enough to eliminate dampness pills in the garden. For this we will need a head of garlic, two tablespoons of oil, 2 cups of water and a teaspoon of dish detergent. Mix well and pour 1 liter of the mixture in 20 liters of water. It is best to apply the treatment at dawn because the bugs are still extinct and the sun will not damage the plants with the oil.
It is a powerful homemade and ecological insecticide that can be applied by spraying. This method should be used as a last resort and if you have a real infestation of woodlice or any other infestation.
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