My orange tree was glorious before these pests arrived a few days ago. It even had fantastic fragrant flowers and the start of actual fruit. Alas due to these caterpillars it is now almost a skeleton without a healthy leaf and all flowers and fruit buds dropped off.
Other than picking each of these insects and physically crushing them between thumb and finger (which I have done and relished too) I looked for a solution that might rescue the tree… and I prefer organic solutions rather than chemical.
Trying to fix another problem all together I sought the advice of Elizabeth Shaheen, the noted gardener and author, during the recent Bahrain International Garden Show. Elizabeth suggested Neem Tree Oil to rid my lawn of the chafer grub… As I had just bought a bottle of the stuff, and as it has no side effects, I thought that I can’t lose anything by using it on the orange tree, and while I’m at it I might as well spray the whole lawn and other trees and shrubs.
That was 4 days ago… and until this morning, not a single caterpillar has shown its ugly self on that tree again, and I have not noticed any other bug anywhere in the garden other than ants!
The Neem Tree Oil really works it seems… I am glad. Thank you Elizabeth!
Update 060427: Apparently I’m a bad boy for destroying these caterpillars! According to Elizabeth who met Frances this morning, they do not harm the plant at all and turn into beautiful butterflies! My bad…
I reiterate that Elizabeth advised me to use the neem tree oil specifically for the Chafer Grub problem I have with the lawn, rather than nuke everything in sight!
Put that one down to “learning experience.”
Sorry Liz, and thanks once again!