With the drought extending into three summers now, many plant pests have taken advantage of the warm dry conditions. Even though California native plants are strong, hardy, and usually resilient, the lack of moisture has stressed them beyond their normal expectations. With this extra stress the plant’s ability to fend off insect infestations has diminished immensely, leaving many plants to decline to the point of no return. Keeping this in mind, I am going to give some suggestions about pest control.

First, pests hate water, so if you can, use water to wash down the leaves of infested plants. Second, soaps such as Dawn dishwashing liquid non-bacterial formula can smother insects such as aphids, red spider mites, and scale. (I use 1 tsp. per quart of water.) Lastly, for severe infestations, I use neem oil which can work as a insecticide and/or a fungicide. It comes from a plant (Azadirachta indica) so it is a non-petroleum based oil. Follow the instructions on the label.

Hope to see you at the next meeting.