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Olive pests and their natural treatment

Olive pests and their natural treatment

There are different pests and diseases that an olive plantation must deal with. Some of these pests can be treated by applying chemical products, but it is also possible to do without chemical methods to combat them. In this case, the principle of prevention of pests and diseases is the best and this consists of the plant developing in its ideal conditions and with the proper care.

In this EcologíaVerde article, we will reveal what they are Olive pests and their natural treatment.

Most common olive tree pests and their natural treatment

As a summary, the pests that cause major damage to olive trees and, therefore, greater economic losses to their farmers are:

  • Olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae)
  • Moth or Prays of the olive tree (Prays oleae)
  • Olive mealybug (Saissetia oleae)
  • olive tree repilo
  • Soapy olive or antractosis
  • Verticillium wilt of the olive tree (Verticillium dahliae)
  • olive tree tuberculosis
  • Xylella fastidiosa
Olive tree pests and their natural treatment - Most common olive tree pests and their natural treatment

Olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae)

It is one of the pests that generates the greatest problems in olive groves and is associated with the loss of quality of olive oil. First of all, this fly lays its eggs under the skin of the olive. Once the larva emerges, it feeds on the pulp and, lastly, the pupa is formed and metamorphosis takes place, emerging the fly, which breaks the skin of the olive and leaves characteristic holes in the fruit. The insect only attacks the fruit, causing it to lose weight and fall. In addition, the wounds in the olive can be invaded by fungi and bacteria, also losing quality in the olive oil or even directly the use or consumption of these olives.

Fighting this pest naturally is difficult, but here are some tips from prevention and natural treatment for the olive fly:

  • One method is to anticipate the olive harvest.
  • Placing diammonium phosphate traps, which consists of making a 3% diammonium phosphate preparation in a bottle and hanging them from the top of the olive tree.
  • Resort to synthetic preparations of the fly’s sex hormone, Spiroacetate, or the insecticide Spinosad, whose active ingredient is obtained from the natural fermentation of a bacterium.
Olive pests and their natural treatment - Olive fly (Bactrocera oleae)

Moth or Prays of the olive tree (Prays oleae)

This insect has three types of generations. One that feeds on the leaves of the olive tree (phyllophagous), another on the flowers (anthrophagous) and the last, on the fruits (carpophagous). Depending on the type of generation, the damage to the plant varies. The phyllophagous generation generates losses, above all, in the olive trees in formation, with alterations in their development. The damages of the cannibal generation depend on flowering and those of the carpophagous generation are the most important, since they damage the fruit and cause it to fall.

In the natural treatment for olive moth are included:

  • Using natural enemies like Chrysoperla carneawhich is a predator that feeds on its eggs, larvae and pupae.
  • Use the toxin Bacillus thurigiensis (Bt), especially during infection by the anthophagous generation.
Olive tree pests and their natural treatment - Moth or Prays of the olive tree (Prays oleae)

Olive mealybug (Saissetia oleae)

It is the third most important plague, economically speaking, that affects the olive cultivation. It is an infection produced only by the females of this species of cochineal and which is also parthenogenetic, so it does not require fertilization to have offspring. In fact, the presence of males in Europe has not been identified.

The olive mealybugs they suck the sap out of the tree and weaken it. They also produce sugary compounds such as molasses, which favors the development of fungi like the bold. These fungi develop covering branches and leaves of the olive tree, hindering photosynthesis.

The natural treatments against the olive cochineal include:

  • Perform a pruning that facilitates the correct aeration of the tree canopy because it hinders the development of the pest.
  • The biological struggle with Metaphycus barletti.
  • The use of natural insecticides made with mineral oil.

Other pests of the olive tree

Although the three previous plagues are the ones that most frequently affect the olive tree and cause greater economic losses, there are others that also affect the olive tree crop less frequently. Between these other pests of the olive tree is it so:

  • Olive repilo: This plague is caused by a fungus and affects the productivity of the olive tree. It is more frequent in rainy climates and sensitive varieties and is treated with copper.
  • Soapy olive or antractosis: caused by infection by toxin-producing fungi that dry out the branches.
  • Verticillium wilt of the olive tree (Verticillium dahliae): produced by a soil fungus. It is difficult to treat, so resistant varieties are used.
  • Olive tree tuberculosis: bacterial infection that weakens the tree.
  • Xylella fastidiosa: caused by a bacteria that wreaks havoc. Currently, there are varieties of olive trees that are tolerant to this condition.

To finish, we recommend reading this other EcologíaVerde article on How to combat pests in organic farming.

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