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ants and aphids  RSS feed

 
                      
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I have a Tulip tree that the aphids, and therefore the ants, LOVE!  A couple years ago a landscaper turned me on to a product that you apply around the trunk of the tree.  It's kind of like a thick vaseline and acts like a moat for the ants heading to the "butt juice bar."  I think it was called "stickyfoot"(?)  I found it at my local home store without any problem.  It didn't kill the ants, but at least they didn't spend all day drinking...which you know will only lead to dancing!!!

For the aphids, I hired a bag of lady bugs.
 
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Any chance you know of a link?
 
                      
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It's actually called "TangleFoot" not stickyfoot.  http://www.tanglefoot.com/products/barrier.htm.

It claims to have no chemicals/pesticides.  The company is all about "Adhesive Pest Management"  (insert tapeworm joke here).

After I posted, I realized I described it like as being like "vaseline"...which may mean it's petroleum based and therefore may not be something you'd recommend on this site.  Forgive me, I'm a novice.

The tree I use this one really only has the ant problem, so I haven't found a lot of other bugs (good or bad) trapped in it.

For the "Who Knew?" file:  "During the 1880's, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the world center for flypaper manufacturing..."


 
paul wheaton
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The concept sounds great, but I do worry about the ingredients of the product.
 
                            
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Hey Paul,

Try Grits for the ants.  We didn't put it out this year (and we should have for our 2 cherry, 2 peach, 2 plum, 2 pear and 2 apple trees), but in the past we have used it up around the house for the outdoor ants.  This will have to be an experiment for the both of us next year during the fruit growing season.

The ants pick up the grits and take it back home to their nests (it was neat seeing these ants carrying grits) to feed everyone.  The process:  They eat the grits, the grits then expand in them and cause them to (for wont of a better word) explode.  Last year when we put it out in the yard we definitely noticed a decrease in all the small ant hills near the house.  A thing of generic grits is under $2.  Just keep sprinkling some out every few days or once a week.

I'm going to be printing up the suggestions from others and your article to show my husband.  Because of the ants we never seem to get any cherries, and the rest of the fruits definitely have the black holes from insects in them.  We even had one peach tree this year where the leaves were all curled in and yellow with some weird looking stuff on them (I'm assuming this was from aphids by what was said in your article) and it didn't even bear any fruit.

Besides fencing (which we haven't done) is there any way to keep deer away from the trees?  Also, any thoughts and suggestions about keeping lady bugs out of your house?  We've had a pretty cool summer for a change this year and didn't have lady bugs in the house, but normally we get swarmed with them every summer and I'm tired of having to vacuum them up every day .

Cyndi (the cat shelter/flea control question lady 
 
paul wheaton
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Grits:  I've heard of this trick and I've heard it works great.  The problem is that I have never seen a grit that I know of!    It must be a southern thing!

As for bugs in your cherries:  this problem is usually rooted in fruit on the ground from last year.  If you can make sure that ALL of the fruit is cleaned up this year, you will probably have far less fruit trouble next year.

For the peach trees - any chance we can get a picture?  I suspect "peach tree leaf curl."  A fungus.

Deer:  A livestock guardian dog is the best.  I also like a six foot tall fence around each tree with three steel fence posts with about a foot between the tree and the fence.  But is this the kind of fence you don't like?

Lady bugs out of the house:  how are they getting in?

 
                            
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Well I'm in the midwest, Indiana (even though I'm from the South originally), and we have grits in the stores here.  If you want to try some for an experiment on a relatively small scale (grits for 80 acres I think you said is a bit much) let me know and I can pick some up for you and send them to you.  Like I said, it's between $1 and $2 a container.  I know my e-mail address is on file with your site so you can contact me through that.

I'll try and get a picture of the leaves of the one tree.  How do I send it to you?  It's supposed to be storming all day so I probably won't get the picture until tomorrow after work.

Our trees aren't really producing that much in the way of cherries.  One of the main big cherry trees didn't make it where we planted it, and then we have another big cherry and one 12" high which is a grafted tree of two different types.  Believe it or not the graft is the one we get the most cherries from.  I'm thinking that since it is a graft and so small that we aren't getting the cross pollination for the other big tree.  I will check the ground to see if there are any remains and get them cleaned up and see if that helps.

As for how the lady bugs are getting in?  We have no idea, and we aren't the only ones with this problem. 
 
paul wheaton
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Post picttures right into this thread.  When you are saying something, there's a link under the edit field that says "Additional Options".  Just attach your image.

Lady bugs:  I've never had this problem.  Do they concentrate some where?
 
                            
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I was wrong when I said curled leaves.  The leaves were turning yellow and had like "blisters" on them.  Since you can only do two attachments I will send 3 posts with two pics each.

Oh and the lady bugs like the ceilings of the living room and kitchen.  Mostly the kitchen.
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Here are two more pics.  Do you have any idea what the problem is?  We've had the tree for about 5-6 years now and, except for that tallest branch on the right, I'm a little taller then the tree and I'm just a little over 5'4.
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I think those four pics show pretty much what I'm talking about so I'm not going to send the other two unless you want them.  One is a really good closeup of one of the leaves.
 
paul wheaton
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Peach leaf curl.

I've never had to deal with it myself, so I'm afraid I'm of very little help.  But I did a google search for it and came up with lots of pictures that matched yours.

I know that Dave Boehnlein was once telling me a bit about it.  I'll send him an email and we'll see if he won't mind popping in.

 
 
                            
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Thanks Paul.  I hope David will be willing to pop in with some ideas and suggestions.  Since I now know what to look for I'll also do a google search and see if there are any suggestions out there.  This is the first year we've gotten some full sized peaches on the other tree, and I don't want to loose this one which in turn will stop the other one from producing.
 
paul wheaton
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I'm pretty sure it is a type of fungus.  My general approach to dealing with fungal stuff in trees is to help the tree to be uber healthy.  If the tree is super healthy, it can generally fight the fungus issues without any other help. 

I like to have a lot of organic hay or straw as mulch on the tree.  I might even spray the leaves with some water and alaska fish fertilizer in the morning - but only if the leaves are not already a dark green.  Good pruning in the winter helps a lot too.

 
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It looks like what you have there is Peach Leaf curl.  I've been wrong before so, keep digging. It's a fungus that emerges from the bark that over winters.  In the event that I am correct, do these things.

This year you'll want to pick off all the fruit, if any so the tree won't waste energy trying to make fruit when it's under stress.
You can treat the tree now with K+Neem.  Apply in the morning or evening.  Never in full sun.
Don't peal off the infected leaves unless you're convinced they are totally dead.  What green space is left is necessary for the tree to make sugar and survive right now.

Fertilize the tree with organic fertilizer.  At the risk of controversy, don't use Alaska Fish fertilizer.  It's got too much water soluble nitrogen in it and it's preserved with trace amounts of chlorine.  Both could stress out the tree.
Use a milder form of organic fertilizer with less water soluble nitrogen and kelp as one of the ingredients.
Add some Mycorrhizae to the soil around the drip line of the tree.

Next year, before the buds break, spray the bark of the tree with K+Neem and/or some pre-emergent oil to retard and kill off the emergent fungus that may have wintered over. 

This is good practice for almost any fruit tree.  Consult with your local extension service about spray times and emergent cycles in your area.
 
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Cyndi,

What you've sent pictures of is Peach Leaf Curl for sure. It is fungal. It tends to be a problem in places with cool, wet springs (like here in the Pacific Northwest). In fact, it is so bad where we are that we only know of one variety that is curl resistant enough to produce regular crops of peaches - the Frost Peach.

We manage peach leaf curl by removing any infected leaves and burning them as soon as they show the blistering. Since this usually occurs here in the spring the tree will actually put out another round of leaves to replace the ones removed. This second flush of leaves typically won't suffer from curl since the season will be warmer and drier by that time (although in the odd year it is a persistent problem). We have also had positive effects on some of the less curl resistant varieties using aerobic compost tea sprays weekly.

Did you have a cool, wet spring in Indiana this year? I suspect curl isn't typically a major problem in Indiana. It seems to me that you might not see this problem repeat itself in a year with a warmer spring. I haven't gone through all the steps dirtworks mentioned, but it couldn't hurt. If the tree seems to suffer from peach leaf curl every year, I would eventually think about replacing it with a curl resistant variety that is known to do well in your neck of the woods.

For the record, from your pics it doesn't look like too bad of a case. Some of the varieties we've experimented with here (supposedly curl-resistant varieties) have actually been completely covered with blistered leaves year after year until finally the tree succumbs. I suspect your tree would probably do fine in the long run even if you did nothing. We've also noticed that some trees that suffer from curl when young outgrow it when they reach full size.

Good luck!

Dave
 
                            
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Thanks Paul, John and David for all the advice on the peach tree.  We definitely DID have a cool wet spring this year with (alot of 40's and 50's degree days and ALOT of rain).  Usually once spring hits we have our normal amount of rain (which wasn't near what we had this year), and usually upper 60's to low 80's depending on how far into spring we are.

Thanks again,

Cyndi
 
                                  
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Oh my. This has been most fun! I just read each of your links and enjoyed them all very much! You're hilarious! Rock on!

Someday I hope to have a farm resplendent with goats, chickens, a burro, horses, and some cats. Maybe a dog. Alas, for now I must make do with my six children.

You rule!

 
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I read your war with the ants on your apple trees, which sounded like my war with the thatch ants here.  My opinion:  if the DE doesn't seem to be working, put it on thicker!

I tried everything I could think of on those ant nests (over a foot tall): boiling water, setting the nest on fire, boric acid in sugar water, a gallon of white vinegar. I sicced the chickens on them.  They looked at them and said, "Blech! We want termites. These things taste like vinegar.  We don't like vinegar.  Got any earwigs?"

That was about the time I found the 50# bag of Diatomaceous Earth at a farm store (the only place that had it in the county).  CODEX FOOD GRADE. 

YAHOO!!!

I took two cups out and sprinkled it over the large ant nest. The next morning, there were ants acting like Business As Usual.  So I got a 3-gallon bucket and filled it up and covered that damned hill until the whole thing was about half an inch deep in DE, with a solid white apron of it around the base of the nest.  If it didn't kill them via the usual means, I was going to DROWN those suckers in it!

The next day, the ants were gone.  Some were still around the nest with their little feet in the air and Xs over their eyes.       

People say DE works on snails and slugs a little differently than on beetle bugs.  They say that the slugs pick up the DE and then they keep producing their slime to get rid of it, until they dehydrate themselves to death.  It sounds okay to me until I hear different.

About that peach leaf curl... I'm just tossing this out there, okay?  I don't know if it's really true, but it SEEMED to work...

I had lilacs with spots and brown patches on the leaves.  So did a friend of mine.  At the home of another friend, I noticed her lilacs were green and healthy, and I told her about mine.  She said hers used to do that, then she read that lilacs like more alkaline soil than she has naturally, so every Fall she started sprinkling a handful of dolomite lime around bases of her lilacs and they had looked good ever since.

So I went home and sprinkled lime around my lilacs sitting in their 5.5-5.8 pH soil, even though it was late spring.  And I told my other friend and she did the same.  The following year, they looked a LOT better.  The next year, they were perfect.  And they've been perfect ever since.

My friend, elated with the success with her lilacs, looked at her sad spotty peach trees.  She looked up the preferred pH of peach trees, and discovered that they liked close to the same pH as lilacs, so..... she sprinkled about a cup of dolomite lime around her worst peach tree.  And the next year it looked a lot better.

I don't know if raising the pH did it, or the added calcium or  magnesium (our soil is normally low in both), or if it was coincidence, dumb luck or she held her mouth right when she put it down.  Since then, the peach tree looks fine and actually has peaches.

Like I said, I'm just tossing this out there in case anyone wanted to try it.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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Yes!  Heaps of DE wins again!  The key is to not be stingy!  After all, the stuff is freaky cheap. 

As for the pH on the trees:  yes, that can make a huge difference!
 
John Meshna
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DE works great on ants.  If the problem comes up again you can work a little faster with D-20.  That's DE with pyrethrine.  you can mix it with water and dish soap and pour it down the holes.  This makes it flow into the underground cells and stick to the critters so they can't get it off.  Ants are very clean animals and they know how to sweep out the barn.
Doing it this way with this product can kill the eggs and larvae too.  Sometimes it can seem as if the ants are all gone and a few days later they're back.  That can be the eggs hatching out and making new ones.  they can't do this if the nest is contaminated and sticky inside.

Glad the lilacs and peaches turned out good.
 
paul wheaton
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I think I'm going to recommend against anything with pyrethrine.

John,

How do you feel about eating pyrethrine?

 
John Meshna
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I'm around D-20 everyday and it bothers me not at all.  I use it on my dogs and sometimes the couch when the fleas decide to make a home there and if you understand the formula that Permaguard uses in their D-20 instead of freaking out just because there's a "chemical" involved like a lot of uninformed reactionist in the green movement do you would think differently.  Science and facts are wonderful things.  They destroy the myth.
  D-20 contains .2% Pyrethrins, a vegetable, digestible extract made from Chrysanthemum flowers. It is one of the oldest, natural insecticides known to man. Evidence of it's use dates back to the Egyptians. Pyrethrum is deadly to insects and other cold blooded life forms. It is known for its fast knock down action but, its value is reduced by the fact that it evaporates in minutes. It works well in Permaguard formulas because it is time released by the dry powder of Diatomaceous Earth.

The next ingredient in D-20 is Piperonyl Butoxide 1%. It comes from the Sassafras plant. It is an effective insecticide in its own right, and helps magnify the effect of the Pyrethrum. Without it, ten times the amount of Pyrethrine might be needed to do the same job.  In the end, the pyrethrine evaporates from the D-20 too and you're left with the DE only.

In this form it is no more harmful than neem oil or other "natural insecticides".  Neem oil is a neurotoxin to insects.  It contains azadirachtin.  Should we be afraid of that too? Karanja oil is the same idea.  Should we avoid Indian medicine that dates back thousands of years and is talked about in Ayurvadic medicine because it contains nerve paraylizing chemicals?  Of course not.
Burnout weed and grass killer can take the skin off your hands if you don't wear gloves when using it and it stings when you get it in your eyes but it's made from concentrated acetic acid and clove oil.  Is that something to recommend against?  It's just not a good idea to go into the spice cabinet and down a handful of cloves and wash it down with vinegar!  All natural but if that combination doesn't kill you you'll wish it did!  AAAAH!!
  Fossil shell flour in it's purest from contains .5% crystaline silica, known to cause silicosis.  Is that to be feared as well.  no.  It's about the relative amount and your exposure to it.  If some one were to be around it everyday they should wear a dust mask and if it's extreme exposure a gas mask.  This doesn't mean the stuff is a deadly toxin.  People who work in wood shops wear good masks, not because wood dust is deadly per se but because they're receiving a heavy dose everyday and wood dust contains carcinogens along with the simple fact that it's just a bad idea to breath in dust all the time no matter what it's made of.  My friends dog died of lung cancer from hanging around his cedar furniture shop where they milled lumber everyday.
  In all things, good practice and prudent wise use of the product you buy or make is what's required for successful outcomes.  Fear and lack of understanding from which it comes is the enemy of progress and positive change and an kind in general.  Even organic gardeners and people interested in natural living need science and trust in solid information garnered from centuries of hard work by those who came before us.  Let's not get out on the fringes and invent new myths and fears to replace the old ones we're ditching as we move into the new century.
 
paul wheaton
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For a lot of those things, my response is:  be worried, or cautious, or concerned - a lot of it would be to avoid it if you can, and you probably can.

I'm going to continue to recommend food grade DE over anything with pyrethrins or borates in it.  It is possible, even probable, that I'm an ignorant doofus.  And, at the same time, I have studied the MSDS for both pyrethrins and borates.  I choose to steer clear. 

Perhaps my approach is something like IPM taken a few orders of magnitude in the organic direction.  So much so that there are even some things that are approved for use in organic stuff and I still avoid it.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrethrine : "Pyrethrins are harmful to fish, birds, and mammals, including humans. In humans, pyrethrin irritates the eyes, skin, and respiratory systems, and it may cause other harmful effects. One study suggested a link between maternal pyrethrin use and autism in children."

I think that as the years pass we will both learn more about our difference of opinion on this matter.


 
Susan Monroe
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The problem with knowledge is that we tend to think that what we know now is all that CAN be known about a substance, and that is not true. 

This moment in time is like water flowing in a river, and we can hit submerged rocks and logs at any time.

Other false senses of security are provided by various government agencies that have so many individual and group agendas that it would probably be impossible to list them all.  Information and opinions put out by the USDA and the FDA are often 'contaminated'.

All we can do is investigate as best we can, and be aware that new info can pop up at any time, from any source, and keep an open mind that information that IS is not necessarily what will always BE.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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I was amazed to find out somebody had copied my article and called it their own.  I tried to ask them about it and the article instantly disappeared. 

 
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  I don't know were i read or heard it but i heard that earth worms carry  bits of leaves and such into the ground in northern countries helping the ground, jthe quality of the soil and that ants rather than earthworms are the ones who do the same beneficial task in desert areas. I don't understand wanting to get rid of ants unless they are eating the wood in your house.
  Leeportnoff a sailor i suppose, says he has seen ants around when he has aphids and so have I but that if they were eating them you would see them eating them.
    He has a point, when you see a dead cockroach you sometimes see ants allround them eating them. Still i when see aphids and there are always, as Lee says, ants running round them and when i come back a week or so later the aphids have gone, the leaves that where infected, the leaves at the tip of the branches are left a bit curled up but otherwise the plants are alright. I haven't seen other insects around, i still think the ants have something to do with clearing up the aphids. If its because they take them aways to farm the sweet juice coming out of the aphids, something i learnt abput at school, and i was a bad student but that sort of fact about nature was somethign i was good at, then they take an awful lot of aphids away. They have big aphid farms.
 
rose macaskie
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      Aren't permaculturists meant to be crazy critters growers instead of crazy hunters the sort of person who likes to frighten the girls with a pot of toads and such.
        I had a plant on my balcony infested with some thing and i just left  it for other somethings to come alongnand cure, let the enenmy of this somthing find it and next year it was alright, hoping nature had the answer worked.

        My brother in law had a wild apple growing just where we needeed shade for the lunch table, and he would not prune it so it would grow in a way that made it give  shade. It turned out to be interesting, it had all these low branches and when full of apples they ended up sweeping the ground it looked like a person in a skirt the upper branches went out in a v shaped way on top and the lower ones went down in a up'pside down v shaped way.  I thought how innteresting in the wild the branches sweeping the ground would root and you would have a ring of new trees.
      If you take the scientists attitude to gardening you just leave thigns so you can see what happens.
 
pollinator
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I had not seen this thread before, but as i began reading and came across the list of plants that repel ants and aphids..i can see why I rarely have any problem with either..my garden is full of catnip (for my cats) ..mint, nion wormwood, used to have Tansey but it died out, anise, garlic, marigold, mustard, oregano and sunflowers !

I do know that occasionally you get an infestation that gets out of hand..and it destroys acres of critters. I did find out that someone actually "caused" the tentworm infestation here on purpose this spring..wasn't aware until it was brought out in the public...nearly or possibly did destroy thousands and thousands of trees...but I did intervene here to save ours and am glad I did.

I WILL spray for those next spring, as the infestation this year surely will mean a worse one next year..but generally I do allow nature to take care of any critters in our area.

Often imbalances are brought on by man messing with things..like the tent worm invasion here was caused..not natural...but generally nature can pretty much take care of itself.
 
paul wheaton
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And by "spray" you mean BT, right?
 
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brenda -  out of curiousity (and so i don't  )how did someone cause the tentworm invasion?
 
rose macaskie
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Don't you just have to let your insect plague  take care of itself, whatever, because otherwise you start the dynamic, "i have to use a bit of pesticide in this situation and in that", and end up absolutely addicted, unable to believe any crop however healthy will come out alright without it. Also using them stops you looking for other solutions like making sure the plants  are really healthy and so able to fight  and beat disease on their own. Healthy plants come inoculate with a mycorrhizae, they live in soils with plenty of nutrients in a substrate that makes these easy to absorb and that holds and maintains plenty of nutrients, water and oxygen. 
  We have not started to feed everyone because we can use pesticides to end plagues as was once supposed and the use  of chemicals on the land is destroying the soil if only because they replace some of the functions of a good soil but not all of them and they do poison the soil and water.  We are just as useless as we always were.  Maybe, we have to have the government step in and help financially  when there is a plague instead of having pesticides step in,  government can't be worse than pesticides.
  I feed the birds, and last month i saw a nuthatch, one of the birds the foodi leave most attracts to my garden, picking insects of the trunk of a tree.
    A few years ago i went through my great grandmothers bird books that have a long piece of writting  on each bird and searched out the food each Bird ate, i wanted to plant things that were good for birds. All of them excepting things like king fishers and hawks give up eating grain when they have young are nesting and turn into insect eaters, maybe they are always a bit omnivores and just get more so in spring anyway there is not much grain in spring.
   
  I read an article i will search for again that said that experiments had shown that small quantities of pesticed are incredibly prejudicial to bees.
    We live in the bees extinction era, maybe we can't, at the moment, use any pesticide at all. I tried to find the article and didnot, but putting in bees and pesticides got me the same information in wikipedia and in other articles. Big quantities of pesticides kill the bee stopping it from getting back to the hive, small quantities don't kill the bee, allowing it to take back pesticides with the pollen it collects and lay up a stock in the hive, so doing more damage to the community than its own death could cause.

    Also pesticides  are cancergenic and have or at least some pesticides and herbicides have, as part of their composition, a chemical that behaves like an estrogen, Colbert of the Colbert report,was talking abut it this week.  This is  also used in plastics and detergents if i remember right. it Behaves like an estrogen except that the estrogen's of women don't get through the barrier of the placenta.  At first boy and girls, in the womb  have the same genitals, what we consider female genitals, until receiving a shot of testostoronaproduced by the baby when  the centre part of the genitals grow and closes on the underside. If the fetus receives to many false estrogen's this may not happen or not happen as it should  so the baby has very small genitals. These substances also affect their testicles and i once heard a few years ago,  was, maybe responsible in part for low sperm count  breast and testicle cancer and are responsible for male fish producing eggs instead of sperm and other anomalies in the animals of waterways full of these chemicals.
    The thread on arguing with farmers or some such title, some one said they hoped the governments would keep out of the farmers life. I have an article that says that the lack of government regulation has meant that factory farms have straggled out small farmers in North America. July /August - corporate pigs and other tales of agribusiness. Multinational Monitor.  You get it putting in - coporate pigs and other tales of agribusiness -, i have just tried, unless something changes, like the big factory farming businesses get a whiff of this and put in  a whole lot of articles with the same name, i have know such a thing to happen on the internet. 
        In several  parts of Germany, the waterboard or water utilities, are paying the farmers to go organic, to save themselves the expense of getting pesticides out of the drinking water which is so expensiveto do that it makes paying farmers to go organic worth while. The o'mama report. Enviromental facts 15/12/06.
      In some parts of Europe the governments pay farmers who are making the change over. When they are making the change they can't use chemicals fertilisers and haven't yet got a good enough build up of organic material to grow good crops on without chemicals.  They get help until they get the papers that certify them, after a few years when it may be supposed any past build up of chemicals in their soils will have disappeared. Before this they cannot sell their goods at the special prices ecological products command and a possible reduction in output if they go organic make these bigger prices important for ecological farmer though it seems in story after story that in the hands of the efficient organic or permaculture farmer, their farms produce as much as other farmers farms. In America the farmers make the change on their own.

 
rose macaskie
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I saw a documentary on insects in China.
  Chairman Mao once decided that if he got rid of birds, sparows and such, then there would be more grain and as he had such power he could sign a law like that the moment it entered into his head and get people carrying it out with energy. They really killed birds that year in China and then had such bad insect plagues that there mas mass human starvation. This gave them a great respect for natural populations, so the insect documentary was one that any permie might like, full of respect for insects.
    What i  really remember about it was that they had calculated the amount of manure insects produce to calculate the benefit of insects on the forest tons and tons but i did not catch within what area there were tons of insect manure, a new outlook on insects!
  I would also say, think how millions of insect bodies better your earth. Gelatin from their exoskeletons retaining great quantities of water and nitrogen from their rotting bodies. The thing is to see who can get most insects in their garden . If you have a healthy terrain you will attract lots of insect i put buddlieha in my garden so i could see the butter flies, i like seeing the mustard that comes up because i spilt bird seed, i know the bees like it a bit of food in the spring for them.they will have the healthiest garden's. now my soil is better i usually find earth worms when digging before i hardly ever did.
  I like seeing insects children get really fascinated by them.
  Use pesticides and all your glowworms will die but your aphids will survive.
  Which insects are the insect eaters and which the plant attackers?
  Don't males love slimy things or nasty faced  monsters like insects. Why have all of them got to trying to kill them so? That be more natural for women who are more scared of the horrible. Its their territoriality, can't take other beings on their land. I shouldn't be underscoring male female differences i will increase, those painfull distances that lead to men being to high and mighty to talk to women, lack of communication between sexes.
 
rose macaskie
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While i am talking about the Chinese documentary on insects , it had another really interesting bit in it
    In Europe they have a caterpillar called,  processionaria here because they wander around in Indian file one behind the other, that eats pine leaves and worst of all gives people terrible alergies.
      In this Chinese documentary film they had a young man with a flock of azure tailed magpies here they are called, longtails, rabbilargas but in latin they are called cyanopica cyana. As a painter i know cyan is blue. They exist in Spain too in the southern half of Spain.
    The rabbilarga herder took his birds to infected areas of wood let them out and playing a pipe, lead them where he wanted them, a really, magically pretty scene, the birds have long blue tail and wings and are pinkish and flew all around him and they ate all the caterpìllers. They did not show the birds eating caterpillars, only being taken around. I can’t imagine they went to so much trouble if the birds did not, when they got to the part of the forest they were being taken, eat the caterpillars. I have just looked them up and the book said they are friendly type of magpie. Hunting with hawks is normal, birds can be tamed, I used to be good with birds.
    I don’t know how you could cheque that out, I suppose there are not that many Chinese documentaries on insects. I once tried to find a documentary I had seen on the tele, in the internet and failed, failure always makes me shy of trying again unless I whip myself mentally a bit. Maybe professor Wu Wen liang of the article on ecological farms in China I gave on another thread would know about this use of azure tailed magpies whose email address is wuwenl-66@163.com. Or Wuewn.l@cau.edu
 
paul wheaton
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I agree, rose.

When there is an insect problem, our knee jerk reaction is to instantly wipe out the problem.  But this usually comes at a high price. 

The existence of problem insects is a sign that we are doing something wrong.  Something big.  Something long term. 

I would guess that the magic bullet is polyculture.  My article shows my knee jerk approach of "kill kill kill!" but the real problem is that I don't have enough polyculture.  The understory of the tree should be riddled with mints, chives, garlic and nasturtiums.  Some legumes would be good too.  And some other shrubs and trees (non-apple) nearby would also help.

 
Leah Sattler
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paul wheaton wrote:
I agree, rose.

When there is an insect problem, our knee jerk reaction is to instantly wipe out the problem.  But this usually comes at a high price. 

The existence of problem insects is a sign that we are doing something wrong.  Something big.  Something long term. 





I get pretty perturbed at the kill kill mentalitiy too. but I don't believe in the premise that the existence of problem insects is a sign we are doing something wrong neccessarily although we often do things that in the long run excacerbate the problem insects instead of minimize them.... which should be the goal. unless that 'wrong' is simply choosing to grow something that attracts problem insects and the right thing is to return to a natural forage diet. that premise implies that somehow 'nature' is looking out for us and will help us if we only do it right. we are a part of nature and just like every other living thing on this planet we encounter challenges to our existence that we must overcome. the existence of parasites in animals is natural and indicates possible over population for example but it is often a normal natural cycle of boom and bust. insects on our plants are there not always because we did something wrong but because they want to eat too! and barring their total eradication they are going to find something to eat and follow natural boom and bust cycles.
 
paul wheaton
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I wonder if there is anyone with a story of a tree with horrible aphid problems that then introduced, say, catnip - and the next year there were no problems.
 
rose macaskie
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Have you tried just leaving it, i did that with a plant that was being eaten to peices, i don't know what was eating it and the next year it was fine.
  As i said before i just leave things with aphids and the aphids disappear in two weeks, there is meant to be an insect a benni that looks like an ant and eat aphids, i see ants on plants with aphids and the apids disappear. If you want the insects that eat aphids you must not use insecticides my husband uses things that i would not use, i know no way of stopping him from doing anything. He treats the apple trees. If you believe in the importance of not killing insects because you kill benies and birds that eat the poiso insects and birds are another thign that eats insects you just have to lose the trees if need be. agri rose macaskie.
 
pollinator
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I had an aphid attack two years ago.

Since I've had a compost pile & more extensive habitat, ants have mostly stuck to the compost...I think they're safer from predation there.

Another development is that a huge posse of assassin bugs has adopted my potted lemon tree. It's tough not to step on any, when I'm in the container garden. I did find one small hornworm on my tomatoes last year, but other than that, the only pests have been slugs. If an ant/aphid ranch were to develop again, I'd be worried that any measure taken against them would disrupt the assassin bugs.
 
rose macaskie
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joel what wrong with ants?
       I had a strange fluffy white insect on my lemon tree, a tree  that i had on my balcony and that did not ever do well even before the arrival os a fluffy white insect. i have also seen  on the chestnut trees in the street here . I could not have a lemon tree in th  country, its to high in the mountains for lemons inless i got as good as Sepp Holzers at creating microclimates. the fluffy white insect did for my weedy lemon tree.
     Still, though insects ruin some trees i don't think we should use insectacides, I have stopped seeing glow worms and i don't remember seeing a preying mantis last year and I don't remember seeing all the grass hoppers i used to see here in the last few years.
  We have so decimated the insect life that there is not much to eat the bad bugs the same with the bird life i suppose. If birds eat insects full of insectacide it is going to have a negative effect on them and birds grain eating ones eat insects in spring when they are breeding and that makes a big differenc to insect poppulations, so, if you are going to be really moral its  no insectacides. though i lose out, i dont live off the land though.
  My son thinks gto have an an insect in the house is sort of outlandish instead of normal a abnormal way of thinking which may be normal nowdays . We have to have some insects around. agri rose macaskie.
 
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