There cochineal it is an annoying pest for crops, which mainly attacks orchard and ornamental plants but we can also find it on some garden crops.
Questvery small insects they behave in a very similar way to aphids, they settle on leaves and young branches, suck sap from plant tissues, producing honeydew and causing smoke that can damage plants.
There are different types of cochineal, which parasitize different types of plants, for example the half-peppercorn cochineal, the black color typical of the olive tree, or the cottony cochineal. Citrus fruits such as lemon and orange are plants particularly harassed by this insect.
Fighting the cochineal
Typically this tiny insect attacks plants with woody stems, to get rid of it it works good cleaning of the trunk, with a broom brush. The most affected branches should be eliminated.
Manually removing the parasite, which is not very mobile as an insect, is certainly the cheapest and most ecological method and at the beginning of the infestation it is the first thing to do. On large extensions or for very significant attacks the manual method does not work, we can thereforei use insecticides against cochineal.
If there are no leaves, especially in the fall, you can also think of use a blaze on the trunk to kill the cochineal but you have to be very careful, it is a method not recommended for those who are inexperienced.
Natural anti-cochineal remedies
There are some vegetable macerates that bother cochineal, particularly fern macerate.
These are completely natural remedies, interesting because they are defense systems at no cost, which do not pollute. The use of vegetable macerates is preferable to that of more toxic insecticides, but it must be taken into account that it is a low-efficacy system. Macerates may contain infestations at the beginning, but they prove insufficient if the cochineal has already proliferated.
In addition to the aforementioned fern macerate also garlic, chilli, rhubarb and nettle they have a certain effect against scale insects.
Biological insecticides against scale insects
There are various remedies to combat scale insects also in organic farming. From neem oil to soft soap to white oil, the treatments to get rid of the parasite are different, let's find out in detail.
When treating it must be taken into account that the cochineal often nests on the underside of the leaves, therefore it is important to spray the products generously, taking care to reach every part of the plant.
To combat cochineal in the organic vegetable garden and orchard, you can use neem oil, which is allowed in organic farming and can kill this parasite. Some scale insects have a sort of protective "shield", so treatments are not always effective.
The treatments are to be repeated even 3 or 4 times until the death of all individuals.
Soft soap of potassium or Marseille soap
An excellent anti cochineal insecticide is Marseille soap or even soft potassium soap for agricultural use. This treatment works by occluding the pores of the insect until it dies, so it affects physically and not poisoning the parasite's body.
A greater effectiveness on a similar treatment can be obtained by using emulsified white oil or normal oil and liquid Marseille soap (mix dose: 100 g of oil, 10 g of liquid soap, 10 liters of water).
White mineral oil is a derivative of petroleum, which after a refining process is cleaned of the most toxic substances and can be used in organic farming. Obviously due to its origin it is less ecological than the remedies proposed so far, but it should be mentioned because it is the most widely used anti cochineal insecticide.
Even oil such as soap forms a veil that suffocates these small insects, acts very effectively and with a few treatments performed correctly you can get rid of the parasite.