Get rid of lice before spring
Text and photo: Lars Lund
My kumquats are thriving indoors. When I put them inside in autumn, they usually have small green fruits that grow. And no later than February, they will have colour and be ready for harvesting. My kumquat produces fruit two times a year. But lice are a recurring issue. Typically, the lice will appear about one month after it bears fruit. Usually, a mixture of soap and alcohol are helpful. Therefore, the problem is not too big. But it is difficult with my Bishop’s Crown chilli. I only have space for one plant in the bathroom and it is safe to say that it will get lice, which is not easy to get rid of. Last year I gave up and cut the plant. Once I was done, there were no leaves left. But this year I did not give in. Every week I would use the soap and alcohol mixture, but it was no use. I then remembered that I had a bottle of neem oil in my shed. I had once read an article about how the oil can be used to prevent pests. I also know that those who know about this oil have succeeded in getting rid of pests. Neem oil comes from the neem tree, which grows in India. The seeds in the fruits contain an oil with hormone-mimicking substances that prevent pests to eat the leaves and to reproduce. The smell is unpleasant. In fact, my wife thinks it is horrible, but it will go away fast. It is especially effective against scale insects, spider mites, thrips and mealy bugs.
Use a spray
Neem oil can be put in a spray bottle. At the moment, I do not have many leaves on my chilli plant, because the lice have eaten or damaged most of them. Also, some of the leaves have fallen off due to the lack of light. For this reason, it was manageable to brush every leaf. Otherwise, you can mix 20 drops of oil in 250 mL lukewarm water and add a bit of dish soap. This mixture is then poured into a spray bottle. My oil has been in the cold shed for about a year and has gotten thick. If that happens, you can heat it to 25-30 degrees Celsius. After spraying the leaves, you should avoid direct sunlight. And do not use the mixture on cactuses or succulents. Also, when the oil is mixed with water, it is only effective for one day. Neem oil can be bought online but the prices vary. You can also find neem oil in many health food stores.
Watch the video to see how you can get rid of the lice.
Note that the video is in Danish, but it is possible to choose English subtitles in settings.
- Open the video on YouTube by clicking on the YouTube-logo in the right corner
- Click settings
- Click on ‘Subtitles/CC’ and then ‘Auto-translate’ to choose your preferred language
Om Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.
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