What Are the Treatments for Psyllids on Pepper Trees?
Full of rustic charm, weeping forms, fragrant flowers and clusters of pink, purple or red grapes, both the California pepper tree (Schinus molle) along with the Chilean pepper tree (Schinus polygamus) appear handsome in large yards in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. Pepper trees attract various pests, including the sap-sucking peppertree psyllid. Although this psyllid species creates less honeydew than its relatives, the pests still induce pitted or distorted leaves and decrease plant growth. Pepper trees typically suffer just cosmetic damage, but you are able to take a few steps to maintain your plant looking healthy and attractive.
Hang Yellow Sticky Traps
Adult psyllids find the color yellow attractive, so hanging yellow-colored traps covered with a sticky substance is able to help you decrease psyllid numbers. Purchase a commercial trap from a garden shop or make your own using heavyweight yellow poster board or yellow-painted cardboard. Cut the material into 3- from 5-inch bits and coat the rectangles with a thin layer of petroleum jelly. Secure the flies onto small stakes you push in the soil beside small pepper trees. For larger trees, punch holes close to the tops of flies and hang them out from reduced divisions with heavy string or twine. Inspect the flies once per week, scraping off gathered debris and insects. Recoat traps with petroleum jelly or replace them. Take down the traps as soon as you bring psyllid populations under control, since the flies will catch the beneficial predatory insects and pollinators as well as the pests.
Attract Organic Predators
Beneficial predatory insects naturally maintain peppertree psyllid populations under control. Organic psyllid enemies include ladybugs, lacewing larvae and parasitic wasps. Pull these helpers to a lawn by placing various annual plants in the dirt around hardened pepper trees. Excellent plant discharges include herbs like dill (Anethum graveolens), cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and anise (Pimpinella anisum). Annual sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) , marigolds (Tagetes spp.) and pincushion flowers (Scabiosa spp.) Add pops of spring or summertime color to your yard while pulling the insects that are valuable. Avoid using broad-spectrum pesticides in your yard or you risk wiping out whole populations of the natural predators.
Spray With Insecticidal Soap
When peppertree psyllid populations become large, spraying your plant with a short-lasting insecticidal soap treatment can offer some relief. Made from the potassium salts of fatty acids, insecticidal soap products work by stripping off the pests’ outer protective layer, resulting in death by dehydration. Always read and follow the label’s mixing instructions before use. Most products recommend using a 1 to 2 percent solution, or 2 1/2 to 5 ounces of soap concentration for each 1 gallon of water. Use a lawn sprayer to completely cover the foliage, including the tops and undersides of leaves. The soap must make direct contact with all the psyllids to get the job done. Repeat the treatment every four to seven days till you eliminate the pests. Insecticidal soaps have reduced toxicity for humans, animals and beneficial insects, but sometimes burn plant leaves. Evaluation for sensitivity by spraying the solution on a small, unnoticeable section of leaves and waiting 24 hours before you check for harm. If you do not see damage, then you can spray the remaining part of the tree.
Cure With Spinosad
Spinosad comes from a bacterium that naturally functions as a neurotoxin in psyllids. It triggers the pests to stop eating and die within 48 hours of application. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions printed on the label. One product advocates using 4 tablespoons of focus for each 1 gallon of water. Use a handheld sprayer to evenly cover the foliage, including under the leaves. Duplicate treatments every seven to 10 days prior to pest populations disappear. Spinosad is poisonous to bees for about 24 hours after application. Reduce the danger of harming the pollinating insects by spraying your pepper tree in the early morning or late night once the bees aren’t active.
Think About This
Even natural sweeteners cause eye or skin irritation on contact. Reduce your chance of exposure by wearing protective clothing and eyewear when mixing and spraying some other garden substance. Keep people and animals out of the treatment area until the spray dries. Native to South America, pepper trees have become invasive in several states, where they form dense thickets, crowd out native plants and destroy wildlife habitats. In addition, the Chilean pepper tree contains sharp spines on the end of its shoots. Avoid planting this species in places where people may be injured.