Well, we lost the fight.

  • Posted on: 19 February 2024
  • By: ibuchanan

Well, we lost the fight.

I spent most of January on it, but was not able to suppress the lace bug. Yes, we knocked them back, twice, with the blast spraying. But they have recovered fast, and in another couple of days will be back to saturation infestation.

All I have managed to do by that effort was delay the final result. by a couple of weeks. This week i noticed in our place the Lace Bug has jumped host to the common Ash trees we have around the place. Now that I am aware of it, I've realized along the Great Alpine Road, in Porepunkah, Bright and Myrtleford, you can see the Lace Bug damage to the old, established Ash trees that are part of the local autumn glamour.

Claret Ash tree in our front yard, heavily infested with Olive lace Bug.
Notice all the leaves on the left-hand side closest the olive grove are the worst affected, and have gone

Its unstoppable, and I am letting the Lace Bug take its course now.

Locally, I am not alone. Almost every grove that I know of is within 50 km is impacted, most to the point of abandoning plans for a harvest.

What happens next?

I am going to run some biological control tests. Lace Bug is an Australian native insect. It has a local predator: Lace Wing. I am waiting for some boxes of Lace Wing larvae to arrive and we will see how they go.

We will build some "insectory" zones with Lace Wing-friendly plants within the grove. This should help the Lace Wing population reproduce. .That will take some time and won't help this year.

I expect our crop to be severely impacted, and there's a good chance next year's will also suffer as the trees recover.

So, what went wrong?

Prof Robert Spooner-Hart thinks its the result of the La Nina we have experienced providing ideal breeding conditions. Around us we have had an unusually humid, hot summer, which I think has fueled their survival. Next year I will look at an early attack, looking for them in September.

In previous years I have managed to keep them under control with just a small spot-spraying unit and a good eye for bugs. I can blame myself for not doing the job well enough this year, but realistically I don't think it was possible to contain it. Certainly very few other local groves have.

I was exhausted, and pretty distressed at the end of January, and we took a week off, left the farm and went to the coast.

The sea purged my stress, and we are back now and dealing with it all.