August 08, 2006

The last straw!

OK, enough is enough! The greater celandine is going to go, probably today. Leaf and root, it is coming up and getting stuffed unceremoniously into a garbage bag. It won't even get the chance to justify its existence by feeding the compost bin.

Have you ever noticed how you can look at something and not see it? It occurred to me during my morning coffee, after the caffeine had started to kick in and lubricate my brain again, that there were white spots on the greater celandine. (Somebody has really got to invent a snappier name for that plant! Chelidonium majus isn't any friendlier.) I had been staring in that direction for a good 15 minutes without seeing them. So I moved over to take a closer look and discovered - yikes - white flies!

...The only good thing about white flies is their colour - an incredibly pure white. The eggs, tucked on the underside of leaves, are almost too small to see, once they hatch, they damage leaves and suck sap, weakening the host plant and inviting infection. Not only that, they exude honeydew, attracting other pests. Yellow sticky traps can be helpful to prevent an infestation from taking hold, but they're not too effective once a population is established.

The decision when I saw them was instantaneous. You could practically hear the snap of the camel's back. White fly can be battled, but it involves spraying insecticidal soap or my favourite spray on both sides of the leaves and repeating twice a week, in case any of the eggs survived. Seeing as the flies tend to take to the air when the foliage is disturbed, it's tricky getting them all. For a treasured plant, it's worth the effort. For one that is hogging too much space and has survived only by virtue of my procrastination, there is no way.

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