Plaga, Plaga, Plaga!!!
Anyone who has tried growing food organically in tropical or sub-tropical Mexico knows the meaning of the “plaga” – the ubiquitous Mexican word for any bug or fungus friends that love your fruit & veg as much you do!
Following is a collection of local, organic, folk pesticides, plus some store-bought remedies purchased at the Gaia store in Uruapan, and one other ingredient smuggled in from NOB (north of the border):
The Local Brews:
Jorge’s Spicey Chili/Garlic Mix (yum!):
- Soak 250gr. of chopped habanero chilis + garlic in alcohol in a small jar for 3-4days
- Add liquid to 1 ltr alcohol rubbing alcohol or equivalent
- Add this mix to 10ltrs of water
Jorge says this mix is a good pesticide for general nuisance bugs such as Whitefly (“mosca blanca”), Aphids, and “Escabajos” (small hard-shell insects common with citrus), or larger “mayates” (beetles such as Palm Weevils)
Jorge’s Pretty Flower Mix:
- Soak 250 grams of red bougainvillea flowers in jar of alcohol
- Follow steps 2-3 above
Jorge claims this mix is good for virosis/hongos (fungual infections and/or viruses), especially those effecting tomatoes.
Note also that the two recipes above can be mixed together.
Me with my fancy new sprayer. Photo by Holly.
Store Bought Salvation (unless otherwise noted, ingredients for the following recipes were purchased at the Gaia store in Uruapan, Michoacan (www.gaiaorganicos.mx) and use their generic Emulbiol (jabón agricola / liguid agricultural use soap) as an emulsifying agent.
Caldo Sulfocálcico (azufre/sulfer + cal/calcium oxide in solution): (originally used to combat sarno (mange) in pets, this product is good for ácaro (mites), cochinilla, trip (thrip) and other insects common with avocados, mangos, and citrus.
1) Mix Caldo Sulfocálcico with Emulbiol and water in the following ratios:
a. When the plant is flowering: 1ml Emulbiol:1ltr water: 10ml Caldo Sulfocálcico
b. When the plant is not flowering: 2ml Emulbiol:1ltr water: 20ml Caldo Sulfocálcico
Note: the vendor says that it can also be mixed with diatomaceous but I question the efficaciousness of diatomaceous when wet
Alomon (garlic/onion extract used for general nuisance bugs such as Whitefly, Weevils Mealybugs, Aphids, Thrips, and Psyllids):
- Mix 1ml Emulbiol with 1 liter of water
- Add 3 – 6 ml per liter of Alomon per each Liter of Emulbiol & water
Neem Oil (used for general nuisance bugs such as Whitefly, Weevils Mealybugs, Aphids, Thrips, and Psyllids): 1- 5ml per liter of aqua mixed with 1 – 2 ml Emulbiol
Note: Vendor says use Caldo 1st. If it doesn’t work, then go to Alomon, then Neem, substituting in Alomon or Neem for Caldo Sulocálcio (I think this may be prioritized for cost as Neem is the more expensive ingredient of the three).
Beauveria bassiana: Lastly comes the super, duper, pest-party pooper, (a fungal mycoinsecticide for Whitefly, Weevils Mealybugs, Aphids, Thrips, Psyllids, grasshoppers and beetles. We brought this fairly pricey product down from the U.S. but later found to be available for more reasonable cost in Mexico under the trade name Beauverimic. This wonder product can also be used for bedbugs and is being investigated for use in controlling mosquitos!
Use = 1 tablespoon per gallon.
Diatomaceous Earth: Our go-to anti-parasite supplement for us and all of our animal brother and sisters. It is also good for control of any insect with a carapace, and we have even had some luck using it to deter the dreaded leaf cutter ants. Sprinkle in their nest, they will sometimes leave, or it can be used to block their nightly commute to the harvest. We bring this from The States in 25pd bags.
Mix liberally with animal feed, or take a teaspoon occasionally as a dietary supplement.
And one last note: while all of the above can be applied with hand pump sprayers, we recently made the $250 investment in a motorized power sprayer (pictured), and can’t say enough about the help this is for larger scale applications such as our 1-acre Permaculture food forest!
Good Luck Amigos. Happy hunting!