Sunday, June 05, 2011

Prevention of aphids and fig spoilage with Tanglefoot

Two major problems can be prevented if I am diligent now. When the figs start to ripen, ants enter the fruits. The originally sterile fig then develops infection with fungus and bacteria that the ant carries. This is the plant version of an STD. The figs spoil. If they don't spoil, the presence of the ants, inside the figs, adds an interesting sensation to the tongue when I bite into the fig. Crunchy, with a slight tang, not entirely bad. But odd.

Cherry trees develop debilitating cherry aphids in the summer, carried onto the leaves by ants. Without the ants, the aphids don't occur. I read that ants farm, using aphids as their "cows".

Both issues are prevented by a ring of Tanglefoot. Tanglefoot is a very very gooey sticky substance that, once applied, doesn't go away. Ants can't crawl across tanglefoot, and don't even try. It repels them. I place a collar of stretchy plastic on the bark first. I cut plastic baggies into strips, then tie around the tree. This makes a collar to appy tanglefoot. Without the collar, the tanglefoot would remain on the bark, and after a year is a sticky mess but has enough debris attached that ants can crawl over it. Each Spring I remove the old collars. Now is time to replace.

This is all that's needed. Strips of plastic, a disposable spoon, knife or fork, and the Tanglefoot. It's impossible to remove Tanglefoot from a nondisposable tool, so I use plastic.

Up close. This is a fig tree.

At a distance. The collar is not unsightly, it can barely be seen.

Aphids also infest apples, pears, and peaches via ant farming practices. They are next. When I do this ground level work then stand up, it makes me dizzy. I can do a half dozen at a time.

Any weeds or grass that can create "bridges" for the ants are pulled.

No comments:

Post a Comment