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Sunday, December 30, 2001
Garden Life

Banish the borer from your garden
Satish Narula

THE presence of insects in a garden is a cause for concern. Familiarising the gardeners with the common garden pests should be a priority. There are certain insects that have strange dwellings and eating habits and their camouflage is so perfect that it is a matter of surprise when these insects are exposed.

A borer makes its abode near irregular cut ends
A borer makes its abode near irregular cut ends

One of the most common and probably the most damaging insect is the stem borer. The insect is not specific to any tree and you must inspect your trees now if you have not done so in the near past. You will find it on one or the other tree or do not get surprised if it has invaded all of them. When most of the time I find that careless workers in the garden remove twigs or branches just by pulling them out or by using crude implements, thereby making irregular cuts. There can not be a more conducive place for insects to breed.

Garden pests mostly make their abode in crotches, where two stems merge together, or near crudely-cut ends. The damage caused by the stem borer is multipronged. It not only eats away the outside bark but also makes holes in the stems or the main trunk, penetrating, deep in the plant. There it secretes some damaging fluid, thereby blackening the tissues that conduct food. Can you recognise the borer? See the accompanying picture.

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The borer, usually referred to as belonging to the Inderbela species, lives in holes. After feeding, it ventures out and to escape the sight of the prowling predators, it goes on making a tunnel of its own excreta that is held together by webbing. It feeds below their protective camouflage. In case, due care is not taken to control it, you may find so many of these pests feeding on the stems. The result is drying of the branches. You may find this insect either on guava, pear and pomegranate trees or on plants of the citrus species.

It is not difficult to control this insect. Remove the web with some twig. It is loosely attached and comes off easily. You might also find the deep brown caterpillar in case you were fast enough to remove it before it retreats into the hole. Do not worry. Inject Methyl Parathion into the hole caused by the borer, after dissolving it at four millilitre to one litre of water, with the help of a used syringe in the hole. You may use other commonly-available insecticides in your gardening kit. Do not forget to plug the hole with wet soil or cotton.

It is better to take preventive measures too. Round off all the cut ends with the help of a pruning saw. Apply some disinfectant at the cut ends. Spray rogor or metasystox dissolved at one millilitre to one litre of water. Repeat the spray after a fortnight.

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