Bronze Olive Bugs on my citrus
Bronze Olive Bugs on my citrus
from the In-My-Garden Series by Satya
It’s that time of year again – masses of Bronze Olive Bugs (Musgraveia sulciventris) sucking the new tip shoots, older leaves and small fruit on your Citrus trees can do a lot of damage. You may notice the pungent obnoxious smell when they are disturbed or even if you come too close.
THE WARNING: When they develop into adults they have the ability to shoot a stream of pungent acrid liquid up to 60cm when disturbed (their anti-predator response).
On the skin (e.g forearm) it can form a burning sensation or burning blisters lasting hours – you’ll know who it was by the smell.
MY EXPERIENCE & FIRST AID:
This liquid hit me in the eye from an unseen bug when I was pruning up in a citrus tree.
The pain was excruciating. I dropped from the tree in pain. Within 30 seconds I flushed my eye with tap water as best could. The tap water with chlorine aggravated it, then I flushed it with pure water which was less aggravating, tears streamed out but seemed to make no difference to the pain and aggravation. I rang poisons information, ambulance, botanical gardens, nurseries and some of my peers and none knew how to treat it. After four days of pain and not being able to see out of my eye I spoke to an entomologist friend, Martin. He told me his story of being hit in the eye by a stream of venom from a spitting cobra in Africa when a child and of a similar pain. He told me of how the nearest feeding mother squirted milk into his eye & the pain ceased immediately. It seemed like a sensible first aid to me for I had lived in India where milk is also used for all sorts of medicinal purposes. My nearest source of milk was full cream from the nearest shop which I purchased immediately, and splashed into my eye the too cold milk (room temperature is better). The pain eased in three or four minutes and with repeated treatments was mostly gone in a couple of hours, and I could see out of it again. Next morning I applied more milk to a bloodshot and rapidly healing eye. Within three days it had healed – thank you Martin.
Oh – and what to do about the bugs? When small (orange or greenish orange thin nymphs) they are easy to kill by squashing (wearing gloves ). The adults I usually cut in half with secateurs (dangerous and smelly – you have to get close to them), or knock them to the ground and stand on (smelly), or knock them into a container of soapy water.
I once tried squashing them on the tree between two blocks of wood (smelly and messy because the acrid body fluids splashed onto my skin where they were highly irritating – too dangerous.)
I note that their appearance usually coincides with new leaf flushes after spring or summer rain, which are instantly covered in aphids. I’ve discovered that if I spray for aphids using horticultural liquid soap (e.g natrasoap 30ml per liter water) the bronze orange bugs drop off dead too! How useful!
All the usual pesticides registered for insects probably kill them too – I haven’t tried.
Satya, Transformative Remedial Therapist at ‘HealingWithin’ (Brisbane & Byron Bay) attains his work balance between his inner and outer world by quality Management, Maintenance & Harvest in client’s Cottage and Permaculture Gardens.
May you have a healthy inner garden and outer garden
Satya ph 0439 903 040