Common pests in the garden


Build soil health, release ladybugs, and lacewings (available from the Department of Primary Industries).

Spray foliage with molasses and water before releasing bcnclicial insects. Spray garlic tea as a preventative. Spray garlic/pepper tea or Garrett Juice if necessary.


Spray Dipcl: Bacillus thuringiensis. Release trichograimna wasps.


Use 500 g soda, 15 litres water, 250 g soap. Mix thoroughly. White oil can also be used.

Spider mites

Spray liquid seaweed and garlic/pepper tea and release lacew ings. Spray Garrett Juice plus garlic for heavy infestations.

Make sure plants are not being watered too much or too little. Use 500 g soda, 15 litres water, 250 g soap. Mix thoroughly.


Spray a mix of liquid seaweed and garlic/pepper tea or Garrett juice plus garlic.

Rutherglen bug

This grey-brown bug has silvery wings and is 5 mm long. It usually feeds on weeds and grasses in wasteland or along roadsides. However, it will move on to cultivated crops in hot weather when weeds and grasses have dried off. Plants attacked—Grapes, beans, stonefruit, lettuce, onions, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots. Control: Spraying should be undertaken quickly to minimise losses. Use Pyrethrum insecticide once a week until the insect is under control. Do not spray seedlings.

Erinose mite - lychee

These microscopic mites attack young leaves, shoots, flower buds and fruit. The feeding of young mites on the surface cells stimulates the production of millions of 'hairs' w hich give the damaged area a velvety appearance. Control: Spray wettable sulphur at the same rate 10-14 days later. This treatment should kill off any mites present on the tree and future problems are unlikely.

If the tree is already infested, spray with wettable sulphur just before a new flush of leaves is to occur and monthly thereafter until new growth develops without showing any symptoms.

Homoeopathic control

Remove infested leaves and burn with a little wood. Sprinkle the ashes around the base of the tree. Do this two or three times when infestation is apparent.

Fruitspotting bug

This is an Australian native bug, and cultivated trees near areas of bushland are most likely to be attacked.

The adult bugs are green, elongated in shape and about 15mm long. Each female may lay many eggs during warm weather and bug numbers can build up quickly. The nymphs have rcddish-black legs and a dark reddish abdomen with two black spots.

Both adults and nymphs suck sap and even a few of them can cause serious damage to macadamia nuts The symptoms vary, but often include nut fall which may be the first indication of an infestation.

On papaws the bugs suck sap from the growing point, leafstalks and young fruit. The fmit usually falls.

Peachcs that have been attacked exude gum. and contain gum pockets. Again the fmit usually falls. On avocados the damage of this pest is very like the damage caused by the banana spotting bug.

Plants attacked

Macadamias, avocados, pecans, custard apples, guavas, lychees, passionlruit, plums, peaches, nectarine, persimmons, mangoes, papaw, and citms. Control: Spray with Pyrethrum every 10 days until control is achieved.

Controlling Fruit Fly Organically

It is possible to control fruit fly organically. There are two sorts of fmit fly common in Australia, the Queensland fmit fly and the Mediterranean fruit fly. Both have similar life cycles and you arc required by law7 to control them.


In areas with cold winters, prevention may be all that is required. The fmit fly dies off in winter, and garden and orchard hygiene may prevent them from building up to problem proportions until summer crops are harvested.

Even if you have fruit like citms ripening through winter, prevention should still be the cornerstone of your fmit fly program.

Fmit fly mature mostly in fallen and ripe fmit, but a severe fmit fly problem can be a sign of bad management. Never leave fallen fmit on the ground. Pick it up every day or have chickens or animals browsing under the trees to eat it.

Fruit-fly infected fmit often falls before it is quite ripe. Having it pass through an animal gullet is a simple way of interrupting the breeding cycle.

Don't bury or compost fallen fruit. Stew them, feed them to the chickens or leave them in a sealed bucket under water for three weeks before composting.

Alternatively place them in a sealed plastic garbage bag, which if placed in the sun for a few days will turn them into anaerobic compost.

In bad fruit fly areas avoid early ripening crops like loquats that may attract the fly to later crops, and avoid maturing varieties which fruit when large numbers of fruit fly are likely to be around.

Be careful of late summer fniits like quinces or figs. They can host fruit fly and provide a 'bridge' for the fruit fly to breed, ready to infect winter crops like citrus.

A 'fruit lly gap' of six to eight weeks may be enough to save later crops from infection.

Fruit fly Traps

Banana Sap Fly Trap

Take an empty plastic soft drink bottle, cut off the top at the shoulders, turn it around so that the spout is sticking into the bottle, and tape the edges firmly. Fill the bottle a third full of bait, cover the hole with mosquito netting and suspend this from trees or stakes in the garden.

Or just fill a plastic bottle half full of bait, hang it spout downwards and punch a few very small holes in what is now the top.

Fruit Fly Baits

When the fruit fly first hatches as an adult it feeds for about a week before mating. It is during this week that baiting can be most effective.

The flies are attracted to moisture, sugars and proteins, and these form the basis of many of the baits.

About 6 weeks to 2 months before expected ripening of fruit, set out a few pilot traps in the orchard to check for sudden build up in numbers. At this point start full scale bailing.

You may need to experiment with different baits and always check tliat you are not trapping too many orchard predators such as bees, hoverflies and lacewings.

Baits must be checked every week, emptied and renewed—more frequently when population levels are high.


Love's Bait

1 litre water, 1 1/2 tbsp cloudy ammonia 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, 3 tbsp sugar Stand for 24 hours, dilute at a rate of 3 tsp concentrate: 2 litres rainwater.

Half fill small jars, and suspend approximately three in each tree.

Other variations:

Molasses, water and fruit juice (or milk)

Molasses, flour and water

Urine, sherry or wine

Vinegar and water, vinegar and bran

Wheatgerm and hot water

Honey, golden syrup, sugar, jam and water


Baits are set in the bottom 1/4 to 1/2 of container and suspended in trees. Check regularly, empty and rebait when half full.

'Splash on' Bait

You can make a 'splash on' bait with 50 g of sugar in one litre of water. Add 7 nil of concentrated pyrethnun. Splash it on trees, but don't spray it because the result will be too dilute to be effective.

Apply the mixture two weeks before the known fruit fly dates in your district and then until two weeks after the last fruit has been harvested. Re-apply at least every week because pyretlinim breaks down on contact with light.

Other Controls

Mosquito netting over smaller trees may be feasible in small back gardens.

Remove old, unproductive or diseased trees. Watch loquat and guava trees—they are a link between winter citrus and summer stone fruits. Remove them if you don't need them.

Commercially available 'Dak' pots are available in the eastern states of Australia for Queensland fruit fly. They are only a monitoring tool and will not control the pest. They attract males only and are used to indicate flights and as a guide for when to spray. IE]

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  • jarmo
    Can you spray wettable sulphur on lychee trees when they are starting to flower?
    7 years ago

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