Cochineal how to fight it

Fighting the cochineal

This insect is one of the main ones enemies for so many plants, especially for the so-called succulents even if, it is not uncommon, that it also attacks citrus fruits and ornamental plants.

Cochineal is one of the insects phytophytes, that is, that they feed on the sap of plants, weakening them. There photosynthesis comes compromised and in serious cases, completely arrested. If the plant is not treated by this insect infestation, it will eventually die within a short time.

Reproduction varies greatly from species to species.
For example, the furrowed cottony cochineal (Icerya Purchasi) which often attacks lemon plants, is hermaphroditic. However, most scale insects are oviparous. Each can produce up to 500 eggs. This makes it clear what a big problem it would be not to intervene quickly and decisively.

Cochineal how to eliminate it: prevention of infestation

Most of the time theinfestation from cochineal, is caused from the purchase of a new plant already sick.

To prevent attack on healthy plants you already own, it is good to put new ones far from the others, for a period of approximately two months.

This operation will ensure that, in the event that only a new plant is infested, it will be necessary to intervene only on that.

Another great cochineal transporter inside the gardens, which could make the above intervention useless, is the formica.

An ant that breeds mealybugs
In fact, they raise them exactly as we do with cows.
The cochineal produces one sugary substance which the ants feed on.

If there are ants around the pots, it is almost certain that there is also cochineal.

Finally, one indicator of the presence of an infestation is the appearance of the fumagine. This is one mold very recognizable (see photo above) and if present, it will be essential to inspect the plant well.

Where to look for cochineal infestation

Residues sticky whitish or fumagine indicate the presence of the cochineal.
But where exactly to look for the actual infestation?

The cochineal hides under the leaves even if it is quite rare.
This happens in plants with small leaves, narrow and compact.

This is a clear sign of the presence of cochineal.  Photo by Politropico
More likely, however, to find them in intertizi natural plants: theattachment between leaf and trunk or, in the fat plants, at the level radical.

In the latter case we can only rely on the signals that the plant will give because, the real cochineal, will be invisible.

The presence of the cochineal should be sought under the leaves.  Photo by Politropico
To combat cochineal on fat plants it will be necessary to flare the plant, remove all the earth, wash the roots and finally, apply an insecticidal substance on the roots.

How to fight cochineal: biological or chemical insecticide?

Essentially, if the infestation of the plant is not very extensive, you can safely proceed with a biological insecticide homemade which will be described later.

If, on the other hand, the infestation is particularly widespread, it will be necessary to resort, by force of circumstances, to systemic insecticides. However, they are also the only system that will allow us to fight the problem quickly enough to save the plants.

Cochineal natural remedies

The methods for fighting mealybug are practically identical to those for fighting aphids. Both of these insects in fact do not have a esoscheletro and they are relatively easy to remove.

Ants, fumagine and cochineal on a leaf.  Photo by Politropico
Even if the infestation is not extensive, one could proceed to one manual removal with water or alcohol and a cotton ball. This is a slow and delicate operation, but it is also very effective.

To make a biology solution that fights the cochineal anyway, you will need a few ingredients, easily available everywhere:

  • Potassium-based soft soap;
  • Neem oil.

The remedy to combat the infestation refers to 10 liters of water. Then take 300 grams and heat it to 40/50 degrees. To put 100 grams of soap and, to dissolve it faster, use an immersion blender.

Once it has reached an almost creamy consistency, add 50 grams of neem oil. Then add this concentrated solution to 10 liters of water.
Make 3 treatments spaced one day apart.

Fighting the mealy bugs

This particular mealybug tends to be more resistant to chemicals because it nestles in spaces very hidden of the plant. A useful cochineal insecticide in this case is thewhite oil, also called mineral oil.

Floury cochineal
He has a environmental impact definitely bass. Diluted in water and sprayed, it can suffocate certain insects.

There are three types of white oils:

  • Traditional white oil;
  • Summer oil;
  • Olio Narrow range.

The former has a lower refining, so it is heavier. It is more suitable in Winter because it persists more on the plant.

In estate instead it is better to use thesummer oil or the Narrow range because they both evaporate first so you don’t send the plant in phytotossicity. These products work on all stages of the cochineal, so be it up adults, eggs e larvae.

Biological fight against cochineal

Another method of eliminating cochineal from plants is the introduction of predatory animals of the parasite. These can be the ladybug, or some hymenoptera.

Since these insects attract ants like honey does bears, one might also think of sticking on the trunk of the plant, of the fly paper, so you can catch them. This method is obviously only possible with plants with a not too branched stem.

The ladybug is a valid ally against the cochineal
Also rainy days could come to the rescue. When it rains it would be good to place the houseplants outside, obviously not the fat ones, so that the pest comes washed away.

The latter method, however, is only useful if the infestation is not in an advanced state.

Where to buy the remedies against cochineal

The good news is that all ingredients necessary for the fight against these insects are cheap and available everywhere. Excellent soft soap of the News Italy suitable for use on all plants and types of crops.

This is also authorized in biological agriculture.

As for theneem oil, this too is biological e not harmful to plants and people, we find the product of Garden happiness.

It can be used on any plant, even fruit, or on the most delicate flowers.
However, it is advisable to take products in bottle and do not spray, so that it is easier to put them in solution.

soft soap Novas ItaliaCochineal remedies: Novas Italia soft soap

Even for white oil there is plenty of choice, either Oliocin of the Bayer Garden that Dusty of the Adam are high quality products. However, white oils should only be used after a first attempt with do-it-yourself solutions, in case they have failed.

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