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Anna, Teacher, writer, biologist
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Expert: Gardening Q: I have a Prunus avium that has a tendency

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Expert: Gardening

Q: I have a Prunus avium that has a tendency to get "Black Fly" every year. Ends of the limbs turn black with a miniscule bug coating, the outer leaves shrivel and are rather unsightly. Is there some way of treating the ends of the stems NOW to prevent this from happening this year?

location: Cork, Ireland (mild coastal climate)

This pest can be hard to control. The eggs are laid in the fall, and when the weather warms, they hatch and begin their damage. Although the visible damage is on the ends of the branches, the eggs are all over the tree. Once they hatch, they move to the tender new growth. So, you need to throughly spray the entire tree, not just the ends. while the tree is dormant, a horticultural oil spray can be applied to suffocate the eggs. These oils are available from nurseries and garden centers.

Before the leaves are damaged, there are other sprays that can be sued. Again, the entire tree has to be covered. Organic approved pesticides, such as pyrethrum (Py Spray Garden Insect Killer or Scotts Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg) are especially good if you or the birds consume the fruit. Such synthetic sprays as deltamethrin (Bayer Sprayday Greenfly Killer), lambda cyhalothrin (Westland Plant Rescue Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer) or a synthetic systemic insecticide, thiacloprid (Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Ready To Use) are also quite effective.

Regardless of the method you choose, you will have to continue to treat because these pests will return every year. If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I wish you success in controlling these pests.

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