R.R. Bridge Fisher

SPRAYING APPLE TREES,RAIN AND SAFER ALTERNATIVES

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I am wondering if there is a safer alternative to using chemicals to keep the caterpillars from munching the leaves on my apple trees? Is soap and water an option? And also with all the rain how do you all keep your trees protected it seems if you spray the trees it rains for days after negating the use of spray on the tree, do any of you have alternative methods to using a chemical? Thanks for any input provided.

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1 hour ago, R.R. Bridge Fisher said:

I am wondering if there is a safer alternative to using chemicals to keep the caterpillars from munching the leaves on my apple trees? Is soap and water an option? And also with all the rain how do you all keep your trees protected it seems if you spray the trees it rains for days after negating the use of spray on the tree, do any of you have alternative methods to using a chemical? Thanks for any input provided.

Bacillus thuringiensis. Commonly known as BT in gardening circles. It's a natural organism that will kill only caterpillars, and will be harmless to anything else it comes into contact with. It's approved for organic gardening.

 

You can get BT in a container that you hook up to your hose and spray. But I'll make it easier for you: just go to a good independent garden center (not a big box store), and tell 'em you got caterpillars eating the leaves on your apple tree, and want to zap them with BT. They'll get you set up, and tell you when and how to apply it.

And you can do this with a clean conscience: BT is totally safe, unlike nasty chemicals.

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2 hours ago, Belmo said:

Bacillus thuringiensis. Commonly known as BT in gardening circles. It's a natural organism that will kill only caterpillars, and will be harmless to anything else it comes into contact with. It's approved for organic gardening.

 

You can get BT in a container that you hook up to your hose and spray. But I'll make it easier for you: just go to a good independent garden center (not a big box store), and tell 'em you got caterpillars eating the leaves on your apple tree, and want to zap them with BT. They'll get you set up, and tell you when and how to apply it.

And you can do this with a clean conscience: BT is totally safe, unlike nasty chemicals.

Thanks

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I've used BT as needed for years on trees and tomato plants.  it s very, very effective and environmentally friendly.  Some places use it broadly for tent caterpillars. The downside is that you need to reapply after it rains- at least heavy rain.  While it is specific to caterpillars, it's not specific to the undesirable ones.  So keep it away from host plants for monarchs, swallowtails, etc.  

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I used to use volk oil and then “complete fruit tree spray” every few weeks. Then went “green” because of my neighbor. Now I just look for a tent caterpillar cocoon early and cut that branch off before they grow. No issues

 

when the japanese beetles show up I put out the traps and get most of them too

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Interestingly, putting out suet -- not seed, but suet -- can very effectively cut down on caterpillars. Suet, especially when you put it out early in the spring, and keep feeding when the suet cakes disappear, attracts a ton of meat-eating birds, like woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and the like. These birds love caterpillars, and if there are so many that you can see, well, the birds can see them too.

If these trees are important to you, I'd start feeding suet, especially next year, and go to BT as a backup. With the right population of the right kind of birds, you may not ever even need to use BT.

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22 mins ago, Belmo said:

Interestingly, putting out suet -- not seed, but suet -- can very effectively cut down on caterpillars. Suet, especially when you put it out early in the spring, and keep feeding when the suet cakes disappear, attracts a ton of meat-eating birds, like woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and the like. These birds love caterpillars, and if there are so many that you can see, well, the birds can see them too.

If these trees are important to you, I'd start feeding suet, especially next year, and go to BT as a backup. With the right population of the right kind of birds, you may not ever even need to use BT.

Good stuff, thanks

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