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Stories articles and news abot Alison and Digby Gotts


The Samoan Experience
Three days in Tafua
EcoTour Samoa
The Samoan Election
Pruning the Mangoes
Climbing Mt SiliSili
Fourth week in Samoa

Samoan Observer Articles:

Why is there no fruit on my mango?
Want more mangoes next year?
Green oranges or orange oranges?
In search of a Samoan Orange
The Hardest Cut
Rambutan - hairy thing from the forest
Rambutan revisited
Abiu - the emporer's golden fruit
Avocado - fruit or vegetable?
Carambola - star of the rainforest
Durian - the extreme tropical fruit
Rollinia - lemon meringue pies growing in the garden
Sex and the single pawpaw
Soursop - a taste sensation
The mulch story
Do it yourself pest control
The joys of soapy water!
The hungry fruit tree
Positive insects



(One of a series of articles about growing fruit trees in Samoa, written by Digby Gotts and published in the 'Samoa Observer' between December 2000 and April 2001)

Soapy water is not only a necessary part of family health, it can also be used as one of the main ways to control insect pests on your fruit trees. You will often see small black insects in the tips of growing shoots. These are commonly aphids, thrips and scale, feeding by sucking the juices from the plant. They are spread by ants, which collect the sweet honeydew produced by the aphids. By themselves they do very little damage, but they also encourage fungal disease and carry bacterial and viral diseases which can wipe out an entire crop. This whole problem can be simply fixed by throwing out your soapy water into the tree. The soap destroys the ability of the insects to breathe and then fertilizes the tree as it breaks down in the soil. The soap used could be any of the kitchen and laundry detergents or bathroom soaps used normally in the house. The soapy water can be simply splashed or thrown over the tree or sprayed for a more precise use of the mixture.

Leaf eating insects can make the leaves of your favourite plants look like lace work. Many of these are caterpillars, feeding furiously to grow up into moths. Large ones are easy to catch by hand. Literally pick them off and drop them into a bucket of soapy water to drown. The soap makes the water wetter, blocking their air holes more quickly.

Fruit flies damage many of the fruits grown in Samoa by laying their eggs just under the skin. The result is small rotten spots and nests of grubs making the fruit inedible. The main organic solution is to offer something more attractive to the flies, which can then trap them into water to drown. Female flies love water-soluble proteins, like Vegemite. So smear some inside a plastic drink bottle, add some soapy water, poke a few small holes into it and hang it inside your fruit tree. The holes should be small enough for the flies to enter but too small to allow bees inside, so no more than 3/16 inch. Four traps inside every tree will ensure that most of your fruit is left unstung. Paper bags over the ripening fruit and keeping the ground clean of rotting fruit will also help keep the flies from finding your tree.


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Last updated November 6, 2014