Homeopathic and Other Natural Solutions to Plant and Crop Pests

image

Index

  • Bacillus thuringiensis

Aphids, Mealy bugs & Scale

Brassicae

  • Chrysopa carnea
  • Chrysopida
  • Syrphina larva

Cucurbitae

  • Coccinella
  • Coccus
  • Dicyphus
  • Tiphia vernalis

Rosaceae

  • Tanacetum vulgare
  • Deraeocoris nebulosus

Labiatae

  • Teucrium marum

Leguminosae

  • Camphora

Vitaceae

  • Ricinus communis

Mites

Brassicae

  • Bovista
  • Ricinus communis
  • Trombidium
  • Campylomma
  • Euseius tularensis

Gall wasps

Ornamentals

Ants & Termites

  • Artemisia vulgaris
  • Camphora

———————————————————-

Bacillus thuringiensis

A soil bacterium. Bacillus thuringiensis. NO Bacillae. Tincture of the commercial brew.

CLINICAL

Caterpillars. Beetles, flies and fly larvae, such as whitefly, cabbage moth and cabbage fly, carrotfly.

GENERAL

The introduction of the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis looked at first to be very promising. It appeared to kill serious pests, like caterpillars, beetles and fly larvae, while being non-toxic to humans, spiders and other predators. By transferring the genes and encoding these in crop plants, it was assumed that the plants themselves would be the insecticides. Hence ‘no-spray’ cotton, potatoes, tomatoes, soybeans or corn, cultivated in what was thought to be the Utopian farm.

At this moment it has to be admitted that what first looked so promising, is rapidly proving to be a lot less rosy. A handful of pests have already developed resistance against the ‘pesticide plant’, something the scientists had predicted would never happen. And, according to the latest laboratory reports, many other pests, like the Colorado beetle and some species of budworm, have the potential to become resistant in the near future. The worry is really that by putting toxic genes into crops, the evolution of ‘super-bugs’, resistant to an array of transgenic toxins, might be sped up much faster than previously thought. Such was the case at the change of the Century.

It is an observable fact that in the last 50 years developments in pest control have followed the same patterns, governed by the assumption that resistance could be overcome by either more or stronger versions of the same substances. The trend has now shifted to genetic engineering, backed by the same fallacious philosophy. Although bacterial toxins are a lot more selective in what they kill, the burgeoning business they have generated, is exactly what fans the worry about resistance. In the 1980s their sales have increased more than fourfold, to the tune of over US $100 million. Although farmers have been abundantly spraying Bt, as it is called, for over 20 years, without there ever being any evidence of resistant insects, that picture is fast being demolished. Some scientists have always been sceptics. Whenever there is a new insecticide, people think of reasons why it is impossible for insects to become resistant to it. Others just assume they are going to become resistant, which is a safer and more realistic viewpoint.

As early as 1985 the first resistant moths, taken from grain storage bins in the Midwestern US turned up. Then in 1990, scientists came across another moth, the diamondback, on Hawaiian cabbage and watercress. Consequently, resistant diamondbacks have been found as far afield as Florida, New York State, Japan and mainland Asia. Roughly a dozen breeding experiments have only confirmed that a wide range of insects has the capacity to develop resistance. On top of that, the toxins lose their potency in a couple of days after spraying, because of sunlight, which breaks them down rapidly. Thus the protection they provide is only very temporary.

Transgenic cotton, potatoes and soybeans are already a fact and so are tomatoes, while maize should follow shortly. While it looks as though this scenario is needed, to get rid of pests, the risk of resistant survivors passing on their resistance to their progeny increases with every generation. If it were not for transgenic plants, there would not be such an urgent need to deal with the resistance problem. Other critics accuse Monsanto, the producer of Bt, of dragging its feet. It is the old style of working – it is studied to death. By the time resistance appears it is too late. Scientists have to pay attention to clues that it is coming, or the battle is lost. It is scientific suicide to sit back and say, let’s wait and see what is going on. At the same time, because of the complexities of the subject, scientists know little about which of their tactics might work. Scientists can model and discuss or try to run lab experiments, but it appears that they all agree that this is insufficient to come up with an answer that will allay the fears of the farmers

Only a few countries that came into its program in the latter years still have benefit from its use. The Bt transgenic plants have been shelved and the battle has returned to more conventional chemicals and other genetic changes.

Bt has a disadvantage that is all the more glaring, considering its limited period of usefulness. This is due to the dosage, which is aiming at a knock-out effect. While such may work the first few times, after a period the pest begins to develop resistance, simply because it must somehow perform its job – rebalancing the unnatural spacing caused by interfering humans.

Control can never be achieved completely, simply because in nature there is also no complete control. Each species of plant has to sacrifice 5% of its numbers to maintain the insect populations, which are necessary once the balance is lost, to restore it. Naturally each farmer must be satisfied with the fact that 5% of his crop is lost to disease, damage from storms and insects or other influences.

Bt in potency has none of the disadvantages of the crude, since it is on the level of the subtle that the potencies work. The energy levels of a monoculture crop are possibly measurable. How they can be measured we do not yet know, but we can conceptualise different ways in which such could be done. A radionics machine or NMR might provide us with the necessary parameters. We can also conceive of Kirlian photography as a possible means, since the ‘aura’ of the plants ought to differ after the administration of the remedy. Until such has been attempted and definitively proven, we shall leave this speculation for what it is and restrict ourselves to the remark that dynamic processes are difficult of measurement.

Minimum dose means the smallest possible amount. All effects produced in nature are always caused by the smallest possible amount of energy. Nature does not like waste, therefore the waste of material doses will create the opposite effects of what we want to achieve – sooner or later, dependent on the sensitivity of the entities involved and the volatility of the product used. With volatility we mean here the severity of the effect produced.

Of course it is to be expected that insects develop resistance, since the method to get rid of them is the wrong method. Homoeopathic remedies do not have the disadvantage of resistance development, simply because they are not aimed at the insect, but at the plant. If we were to seek to destroy the insects with our remedies, everyone who would use them would soon find the same resistance problem rearing its ugly head. The advantage of the homoeopathic approach is found in the fact that the insect is interesting only as a symptom and never as something that needs to be killed to be rid of.

Bombyx processiona

Procession caterpillar. Bombyx processiona. NO Lepidoptera. Tincture of the live caterpillars.

CLINICAL

Caterpillars, vegetable loopers, sawfly larvae, army worms, cabbage moths and other caterpillars.

GENERAL

The true bombyx is not a very large caterpillar and is today known as the white cedar moth, Leptocheria reducta. It is about 45 mm long, dark brown, with yellow head and masses of long grey and black hairs, which on contact cause skin irritation.

Clarke mentions that: “in one case a boy shook a large number of caterpillars from a tree on his naked chest. It caused an itching so severe, that he had to run for assistance. Then fever, somnolency, delirium and finally death ensued.”

(Clarke, 1991)

The caterpillars live in colonies at the base of the tree during the day and feed on the foliage at night. After denuding the tree, they walk in a single file to the next, which behaviour accounts for their name. They produce two generations per year.

Rodale’s periodical relates the case of a commercial peanut and soybean farmer (1976). He prepared a crude product from vegetable loopers. Control was very successful. Another report from 1978 mentioned sawfly larvae being used in a similar fashion.

Bombyx in potency has been used to treat most caterpillars on most crops as a generic remedy. Both as a spray and in the trickle system it is effective. In both cases the plants become immune to caterpillar infestations.

RELATIONS

Compare: Cantharis Sambucus, Val., Vib

Aphids, Mealy bugs & Scale

Brassicae

Chrysopa carnea

Gauzefly. Chrysoperla =Chrysopa carnea, C. rufilabris Neuroptera: Chrysopidae. NO Hymenopterae. Family Chrysopidae. Genus Aphidius. Species Chrysopa carnea. Tincture of the live insect. Trituration of the live insect.

CLINICAL

Aphids, spider mites (especially red mites), thrips, whiteflies, eggs of leafhoppers, moths, and leafminers, small caterpillars, beetle larvae, and the tobacco budworm. Aphid infestations of all types on nearly all types of plants. Chrysopa prefers Brassicae, but will take aphids from almost any plant.

GENERAL

Common Green Lacewing C. carnea.

These green lacewings are common in much of North America. Adults feed only on nectar, pollen, and aphid honeydew, but their larvae are active predators. C. carnea occurs in a wide range of habitats in northeastern, midwestern and western U.S., and C. rufilabris may be more useful in areas where humidity tends to be high (greenhouses, irrigated crops, southeastern and midwestern U.S.).

Appearance

Adult green lacewings are pale green, about 12-20 mm long, with long antennae and bright, golden eyes. They have large, transparent, pale green wings and a delicate body. Adults are active fliers, particularly during the evening and night and have a characteristic, fluttering flight. Oval shaped eggs are laid singly at the end of long silken stalks and are pale green, turning gray in several days. The larvae, which are very active, are gray or brownish and alligator-like with well-developed legs and large pincers with which they suck the body fluids from prey. Larvae grow from <1 mm to 6-8 mm.

Habitat (Crops)

Cotton, sweet corn, potatoes, cole crops, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, asparagus, leafy greens, apples, strawberries, and other crops infested by aphids.

Pests Attacked

Several species of aphids, spider mites (especially red mites), thrips, whiteflies, eggs of leafhoppers, moths, and leafminers, small caterpillars, beetle larvae, and the tobacco budworm are reported prey. They are considered an important predator of long-tailed mealybug in greenhouses and interior plantscapes.

Life Cycle

These two species of green lacewings overwinter as adults, usually in leaf litter at the edge of fields. During the spring and summer, females lay several hundred small (<1 mm) eggs on leaves or twigs in the vicinity of prey. Larvae emerge in 3-6 days.

The larval stage has three instars and lasts two to three weeks. Mature third instars spin round, parchment-like, silken cocoons usually in hidden places on plants. Emergence of the adults occurs in 10 to 14 days. The life cycle (under 4 weeks in summer conditions) is heavily influenced by temperature. There may be two to several generations per year.

Relative Effectiveness

These lacewing larvae are considered generalist beneficials but are best known as aphid predators. The larvae are sometimes called aphid lions, and have been reported to eat between 100 and 600 aphids each, although they may have difficulty finding prey in crops with hairy or sticky leaves.

Natural populations of Chrysoperla have been recorded as important aphid predators in potatoes, but mass releases of lacewings have yet to be evaluated against aphids in commercial potato production. In small scale experiments outside the United States, lacewings achieved various levels of control of aphids on pepper, potato, tomato, and eggplant, and have been used against Colorado potato beetle on potato and eggplant. On corn, peas, cabbage, and apples, some degree of aphid control was obtained but only with large numbers of lacewings. Mass releases of C. carnea in a Texas cotton field trial reduced bollworm infestation by 96%, although more recent studies show that C. carnea predation on other predators can disrupt cotton aphid control.

C. carnea is considered an important aphid predator in Russian and Egyptian cotton crops, German sugar beets, and European vineyards. The North Carolina State University Center for IPM considers it an important natural enemy of long-tailed mealybug, one of the 5 most important pests of NC interiorscapes.

Several strains of C. carnea occur in North America. Matching of the proper strain to specific pest management situations is desirable.

Pesticide Susceptibility

C. carnea appears to have some natural tolerance to several chemical insecticides although there may be considerable variation. Populations tolerant of pyrethroids, organophosphates, and carbaryl have been selected in the laboratory.

Conservation

Because young larvae are susceptible to dessication, they may need a source of moisture. Adult lacewings need nectar or honeydew as food before egg laying and they also feed on pollen. Therefore, plantings should include flowering plants, and a low level of aphids should be tolerated. Artificial foods and honeydew substitutes are available commercially and have been used to enhance the number and activity of adult lacewings. These products may provide sufficient nutrients to promote egg laying, but they cannot counter the dispersal behavior of newly emerged adult lacewings.

Commercial Availability

C. carnea and C. rufilabris are available commercially and are shipped as eggs, young larvae, pupae, and adults. C. carnea is recommended for dry areas, C. rufilabris for humid areas. Larvae are likely to remain near the release site if aphids or other prey are available. Newly emerging adults, however, will disperse in search of food, often over great distances, before laying eggs. Naturally, in potency such restrictions as to environment do not have any significance, because the remedy is not subject to environmental circumstances to enable its effectiveness.

‘All aphid parasites are Hymenoptera or wasps in the broad sense and belong to two Families; the Aphidiidae, which are the most important and are all aphid parasites and the Aphelinidae, which also parasitise other insects such as scale and whiteflies.

The Aphidiidae include many important genera; Aphidius, Praon, Ephedrus, Lysiphlebus, Monoctus and Trioxys. The adults are small, slender wasps with black, brown, orange or yellow colouration.’

(Hussey N.W. Biological Pest Control)

While in nature the wasp oviposits the aphid and still takes a few days to hatch, the remedy will immediately act and thus time is gained against the aphid devastation. For the different instars of the parasitic wasp do not interfere with the development of the aphid. Only at the 4th instar does the predator become active enough to stop the aphid’s development and life.

The remedy made from the parasitic wasps do not have this delay in action, nor are they dependent on a particular instar of the aphid to do its work. Several parasitic wasps prefer or even need a particular instar of their prey to oviposit their eggs.

Another drawback to using parasitic wasps lies in the fact that although the adult female may make several hundred ovipositions during its life, only a small proportion will reach adulthood. Even under laboratory conditions only 100 will be produced, of which 60 might be female. Because development takes about two weeks, the maximum population increase rate can be calculated as approximately 4.5 x a week. In the greenhouse practise of every day, the rates are considerably lower.

These drawbacks do not exist with the homoeopathic potencies, which do not require breeding time, have no influence from the lifecycle of the pest or the weather conditions and are thus applicable at the time the infestation is acute. The immediate response is another feature with which the remedy shows superiority over even IPM.

Chrysopida

Chrysopida. Gauzefly. NO Hymenopterae. Trituration of the live fly. Tincture of the live insect.

CLINICAL

Aphid infestations. Scale

GENERAL

Aphid infestations on the plant or crop. These gauzeflies subsist mainly on aphids. They are generally active at dawn and dusk. They can be recognised by their glass-like wings, which contain greenish or yellowish veins.

It can be given at the time of infestation or as a preventative measure, protecting the plant before such infestations occur. It gives protection during the entire lifecycle of the plant in annuals and biennuals.

While it is true that live insects can be cultivated to do the work, it is often difficult on account of the unpredictability of pest infestations. Therefore, it is also costly, since the insects may not be available at the moment of need or the breeder of predators does not sell any, since there are no infestations during its own lifecycle. Moreover, the adult predator migrates away from the aphid, even when there are plenty available.

The solution presented is the best possible alternative, since the lifecycle of the predator or of the pest no longer plays any role in the eradication – the remedy is always available and works at all times, under all circumstances.

With commercially available poisons, control needs 5-6 treatments at intervals of 8-10 days during the entire summer. With the build-up of resistance, this has to be increased to 6-10 treatments at intervals of every week. The costs are astronomical.

With IPM, three successive batches of cocoons have to be introduced at intervals of 5 days, at a ratio of 1 cocoon to 25 aphids. Many times, the parasite larvae are incapable of controlling the aphid populations, since these can explode at 30 x their rate every day, in hot and dry weather. This also requires additional parasites, to achieve effective control and makes it rather expensive to use. While control is often very effective, provided the development of aphid and parasite are parallel, equally often a change in weather can cause population explosions requiring more parasites.

Homoeopathic remedies can be applied at all times and prevent re-infestation, even when optimal conditions are present. IPM does not prevent re-infestation and will have to be applied again, thus raising the cost for the grower.

Syrphina larva

Hover fly. NO Diptera: Syrphidae Syrphus spp., Allograpta spp. Tincture of the live insect. Trituration of the live insect.

CLINICAL

Aphid infestations; also as prophylactic

APPEARANCE

Aphid infestations. Plants covered in aphids. When Syrphina is sprayed or given directly to the plant, the aphids have either died by the next day or have fled. Notwithstanding their protection by ants, these cannot fight off a non-existing enemy and therefore the aphids will disappear.

GENERAL

Syrphina is a green, yellow or brown coloured glider, the larvae of which like aphids almost as much as Coccinella larvae do. When the soil is cultivated, the larvae which survive underground, are promptly killed. During the insect season the use of the remedy is therefore indispensible, if the farmer is not to succumb to pests.

Adults are 10 to 12 mm long marked with yellow, black, or white bands resembling bees or small yellowjackets. They fly swiftly and tend to hover over plants (also call hover or flower flies). Adults feed only on pollen, nectar, or honeydew produced by aphids. Larvae are about 12 mm long, wrinkled or slug-like, and tapered to a point anteriorly. They are usually brown or green with whitish areas. Eggs are chalky-white with faint longitudinal ridges and are laid singly among aphid colonies.

Lifecycle

Syrphid flies overwinter as pupae in the soil. Adults begin emerging in April and May about the same time as aphid populations begin to increase. They lay eggs on leaves and stems of plants infested with aphids or other suitable prey. Eggs hatch in 3 to 4 days into soft-bodied maggot-like larvae. Larvae feed for 7 to 10 days, then drop to the soil to pupate.

A life cycle from egg to adult is completed in 16 to 28 days and there are three to seven overlapping generations each year.

Importance

Larvae feed on soft-bodied insects, particularly aphids. As many as 400 aphids may be consumed by one larva during its development period. Larvae seize aphids with their mouth hooks and suck out the body contents. These predators are common in most field and vegetable crops and may be important in suppressing aphid populations if unnecessary applications of non-selective insecticides are avoided.

Two common species of syrphid flies occur in the northwest: the western syrphid, Syrphus opinator and Scaeva pyrastri, and both species are commonly found in mint fields.

Cucurbitae

Coccinella

Lady bird. Sunchafer. Coccinella septempunctata. Chrysopa septempunctata. NO Coleoptera. Genus Chrysopids. Tincture of the freshly crushed beetles.

CLINICAL

Aphids. Scale. Whitefly

GENERAL

Sevenspotted Lady Beetle

The sevenspotted lady beetle, repeatedly introduced to North America from Europe for the biological control of aphids, was established in the early 1970s in New Jersey, apparently from an accidental introduction. It has since spread naturally or been introduced to many northeastern and north central states. C. septempunctata may be a more effective predator than some native lady beetle species, displacing them in some areas.

Appearance

Comparatively large (7-8 mm) with a white or pale spot on either side of the head. The body is oval, and has a domed shape. The spot pattern is usually 1-4-2, black on the orange or red forewings. Lady beetle larvae are dark and alligator-like with three pairs of prominent legs, growing to 7-8 mm in length. Eggs are spindle shaped and small, about 1 mm long.

Habitat (Crops)

Aphid infested crops, including potatoes, legumes, sweet corn, alfalfa, wheat, sorghum, and pecans.

Pests Attacked

Reported prey include pea, cowpea, green peach, potato, corn leaf, melon aphids, and greenbug.

Life Cycle

Adults overwinter in protected sites near the fields where they feed and reproduce. In spring, emerging beetles feed on aphids before laying eggs. Females may lay from 200 to more than 1,000 eggs over a one to three month period commencing in spring or early summer. Eggs are usually deposited near prey such as aphids, often in small clusters in protected sites on leaves and stems. The eggs are small (about 1 mm) and spindle-shaped.

C. septempunctata larvae grow from about 1 mm to 4-7 mm in length over a 10 to 30 day period depending on the supply of aphids. Large larvae may travel up to 12 m in search of prey. A second generation may appear about a month later. The pupal stage may last from three to 12 days depending on the temperature.

In the northeastern United States, there are one to two generations per year before the adults enter winter hibernation. Development from egg to adult may take only two to three weeks, and adults, most abundant in mid- to late summer, live for weeks or months, depending on the location, availability of prey, and time of year.

Conservation

C. septempunctata is spreading to new areas each season. Conservation can best be accomplished by following integrated pest management guidelines as outlined in the tutorial of this guide.

Pesticide Susceptibility

Aphids attack grains, fruits, vegetables and flowers.

They are 1-2mm long in general, although larger species also exist (4-5mm). Different species have different colours, green, blue, pink, deep yellow, lemon-coloured, grey, white or black. Some species have wings. Others have a winged and a wingless stage. When over-crowding occurs, they grow wings, flying to other plants or other parts of the same plant. Near the end of the body two tubes protrude, called cornicles, a feature particular to aphids. Aphids are viviparous, ie. bearing live young, resulting in possible population explosions.

Coccinella either sprayed directly on the aphid or when given to the plant, rapidly diminishes the populations. Aphids pierce and suck, drawing sap from plants, preferably young shoots and buds, the latter producing deformed flowers. Some aphids form galls, attacking root system as well. Others carry yellow dwarf virus. Aphids are protected by ants and produce honey dew for them.

Population size depends on temperature and nutrient levels. At 15oC the females produce three young per day, which increases to six at 25oC and with high potassium and/or phosphorus levels can increase to ten. Hence population explosions occur mostly during warm to very warm weather, when humidity is around 40 to 50%.

Coccinella has been used extensively with good results, usually requiring only a single dose. Overdosing will attract aphids to a plant, resulting in repeated aphid infestations.

Coccus

Cochineal. Coccus cacti. NO Hemiptera. Trituration of the dried bodies of the female insect.

CLINICAL

All soft bodied scale.

GENERAL

Coccus, being a soft scale, is specific for treatment of soft scales, because it possesses similar properties. Shellac is an example of a remedy for hard scales, as it is a product of a hard scale species. Coccus has been used on different species of scale living on different trees. Eucalypt scale (wattle tick, soft brown scale), scale on citrus trees, scale on bottle brush disappeared after a single dose. As with Coccinella, care must be taken not to repeat the remedy

There are some twenty types of soft scale, all of which can be treated with this remedy. It is the remaining hard scale that must be treated with Shellac, approximately ten species. Thus each of these remedies is generic to the scale to a certain extent.

Dicyphus

CLINICAL: Whiteflies, aphids, thrip, spider mites. Greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum), Tobacco whitefly (Bemisia tabaci). Dicyphus will feed on two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), Thrips and Moth eggs but will not control these pests.

GENERAL:

Plants

Note: Since Dicyphus is also a plant feeder it should not be used on crops such as Gerbera which can be damaged. This is only relevant if it is used as an Integrated Pest Management tool. In the potency such drawbacks do not exist. Most of the work with Dicyphus has been on vegetable crops such as tomato, pepper and eggplant where it will not cause plant damage by plant feeding.

Description

The predatory bug, Dicyphus hesperus is similar to Macrolophus caliginosus, which is being used in Europe to control whitefly, spider mites, moth eggs and aphids. The use of Dicyphus is being studied by D. Gillespie (Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada Research Station, Agassiz, BC). Dicyphus should not be used on its own to replace other biological control agents. It is best used along with other biological control agents in greenhouse tomato crops that have, or (because of past history) are expected to have. whitefly, spider mite, or thrips problems.

• Eggs are laid inside plant tissue and are not easily seen.

• Adults are slender (6mm), black and green with red eyes and can fly

• Nymphs are green with red eyes

Use in Biological Control

• Release Dicyphus as soon as whiteflies are found, early in the season at a rate of 0.25-0.5 bugs/m2 (10 ft2) of infested area; repeat in 2-3 weeks.

• Release batches of 100 adults together in one area where whitefly is present or add supplementary food (frozen moth eggs: i.e. Sitotroga sp., Ephestia sp.) to these areas weekly.

About the author

V.D. Kaviraj

V.D. Kaviraj

V.D. Kaviraj is a Dutch homeopath, author, researcher and pioneer in Agrohomeopathy. He is also Vice President, World Homoeopathic Association UK Chapter. He has written textbooks on various aspects of homeopathy including "Homeopathy for Farm and Garden", which is now available in seven languages. The revised and enlarged edition with 376 pages has just been published : http://www.narayana-publishers.com/Homeopathy-for-Farm-and-Garden/Vaikunthanath-Das-Kaviraj/b8241