Fruit and vegetables

Metcalpha control

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Question: metcalpha check

Every year the olive tree plants are infested with metcalpha and I would like to know how to control this hateful parasite with natural and organic products. Thank you


Answer: Metcalpha check

Dear Donatella,

metcalfa is a parasite that arrived in Italy from the American continent; being an insect, in a certain way immigrant, the metcalfa does not find any natural antagonist in Europe, apart perhaps from some birds that seem to feed on adult specimens. The presence of metcalfa in Europe began precisely in Italy, where the insect is widespread, both on crops and on ornamental plants. Although most of the insects are killed by the treatments practiced to contain the number of other insects present in the vineyard and in the orchard, the metcalfa has a particular hatching of the eggs, which occurs in a scaled way for many weeks, which makes it more difficult to contain the number of adults present on plants; besides this, the youthful forms are covered with a waxy substance, similar to that which cochineals coat, which makes them impermeable to many products used in agriculture. The damage caused by metcalpha is often of little consequence, caused by their sucking apparatus, which takes the sap of the foliage; these insects digest the proteins contained in the sap, and expel sugars, undigested (a bit like it happens for other insects, such as aphids and cochineal); often the greatest damage is caused by fungi of various types that settle on these sugary residues, called honeydew. In addition to mushrooms, honeydew also attracts bees, which produce excellent honey with honeydew sugars; therefore in addition to the difficulty of killing metcalphs covered with wax, there is also the problem of respecting bees, which in large numbers are attracted to honeydew. In addition to these problems, the metcalpha at the arrival of the cold settle in the ravines of the bark, where they survive until the following year; so an infested plant this year, will also be infested next year if no action is taken. Due to the characteristics of the insect, and the presence of bees in their vicinity, insecticide treatments against metcalfa are on the one hand not very effective, and on the other quite inadvisable; they usually take place only in production, and only in the case of large infestations by the insect. Typically, rather than sprinkling the plants with insecticide, we try to wash away their eggs and insects at a young stage, using potassium-based products (for example soft potassium soap). In recent years, however, the introduction of an antagonistic insect, a small hymenoptera that deposits its eggs in the body of young and adult metcalphs, seems to be very successful; this insect is called Neodryinus typhlocybae, and throwing bags containing many insects in various stages of development are available from agricultural consortia or companies specialized in the breeding of insects for biological control.

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