Figs under attack? SWD, ants or ...?

I went out this morning to walk through my garden and was admiring my figs when I noticed white spots on a few of the larger Briguglio figs. When I looked closely I could see it was sap leaking out. I’ve seen someone else who had a Celeste infested by fruit flies, but wasn’t sure if they were SWD or just over ripe figs attracting regular fruit flies. After looking closely at the picture I took I could see the ant on it which I hadn’t noticed before, but hadn’t heard of ants attacking unripe figs.

I have 5 types of figs with fruit growing on them, but not a ton on any plant since they’re still young so I’m hoping to preserve at least a few good ones from each. Any thoughts on what type of menace I’m up against?

What’s SWD?

Zen, I would guess you have some sort of piercing insect trying to attack your figs. That is latex coming out of some small pin holes. I would strongly suggest you control the ants in your trees (as they are probably trying to farm whatever sucking insect you’ve got), and treat with Neem oil. Probably nothing serious, but that would be my educated guess - something for sure is trying to pierce the fig to get at the latex.

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SWD = Spotted Wing Drosophila, the bane of many berry growers and I have heard they can bother figs as well. I thought of them since they are one of the things that can pierce unripe fruit to lay their eggs.

Thanks, I’ll get some Neem oil and give them a spray. Any suggestions of where to find it locally - Home Depot or somewhere else?

Also, isn’t there a consideration on temps with Neem? I thought I read that somewhere and we’re pretty hot these days.

Thanks for your help.

You should be able to find Neem at Lowe’s or HD. Yes, there is a temp consideration - don’t spray if temps are over 85 degrees, or you can risk burning the fruit/leaves. If that is the case, I would give it a very good blast with a stream of water, and use insecticidal soap spray. And, definitely control for ants. Try wrapping the trunk with trunk wrap and apply Tanglefoot. Also set out ant traps at the base of your trees.

Thanks, I’ll head off shopping tonight. Just to clarify on the temp thing, if I spray in the evening when the temp has dropped below 85 is that okay even if it might hit 90 the next day?

I don’t like spraying oil on small developing fruits. It’s worse on some things than others. Green blueberry fruits and oil don’t mix in my experience. Same with any other fruit that has a bloom on fruit surface. Maybe it would be OK on developing fig fruits.

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I wouldn’t Zen. The oil stays on the surface of the fruits and leaves for several days. You’ll still get solar damage.

No new damage today, so I’m going to take a wait and see attitude with it unless we hit a cooler patch and I can give it a shot of Neem. I’ll also do the tanglefoot thing, although it is a bit challenging since this is a 3 stem fig with a bunch of other growth coming up.

I hope whatever bit it has moved on.

Neem is a surfactant, not a pesticide. Those who believe otherwise have been fooled by clever marketeers. Look at the product registration: it has no efficacy as a pesticide.

You can get ants out of your fruit trees and be organic about it too. The key is to introduce a pyrethrin or similar into your irrigation water so the ants stop using the basin around your tree as a transportation depot.

One product that contains both Neem Oil and Pyrethrin is Green Light brand “Fruit Spray”. It is a little beyond “organic” in that the sassafras extract has been technically distilled into piperonyl butoxide - but what the heck, its organically sourced.

Along this same line, I like “Evergreen EC”. For immediate relief you can also spray it directly on the plants. It uses Aloe instead of Neem oil as a surfactant.

Richard - can you back this statement about neem up? Azadirachtin and Clarified Hydrophobic Extract of Neem Oil are both listed as pesticides…

ps: I’ll understand if you ignore this post. You have a history of ignoring people’s request for clarification on wild statements you’ve made.

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Neem Oil as a direct extract from seed has no efficacy as an insect toxin - and in the state of CA does not qualify as a pesticide on its own. The chemical Azadirachtin does occur in Neem oil but the quantity is negligible. However, synthesized Azadirachtin concentrate is another matter as is the Clarified Hydrophobic Extract.

As for wild claims, I find it pointless to argue with persons whose opinions are entrenched in popular culture. Nor do keep a detailed record of the textbooks and journal articles I’ve researched or reviewed. So if I don’t reply please don’t take it personally.

Actually, Neem oil is a horticultural oil, not a surfactant. A surfactant is a substance that reduces the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved. Being an oil, it will not dissolve in water (“oil and water don’t mix”, unless you add either a surfactant or an emulsion agent). Detergent is an example of a surfactant. I think what Richard means is it is a “suffocant”, as are other hort oils. Neem is pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree ((Azadirachta indica), which is native to India. It is used to smother certain insect pests, such as aphids, spider mites, whitefly, scale, and mealybugs. In its most technical sense, it is categorized as an “insecticide”, as it does kill insects by simply smothering them. It also does have some minor antifungal and anti-feeding qualities, as well. And the Azadirachtin (varying pretty widely in concentrations across different products) is also an insecticide in the more chemical sense we think of as a chemical insecticide, but I agree with Richard here in that the quantity is probably minimal - it will smother and kill insects before it would provide a fatal dose from the Azadirachtin. Unless you were to find a product that has a higher concentration of this chemical. Matthew, in order for regulatory agencies to start qualifying products as chemical insecticides, they have to have a high enough concentration to fall into that category. So perhaps that may be why Neem doesn’t fall into the “chemical pesticides” category. Richard & Scott, be nice.

Suffocation is not a mode of action for an insect toxin.

Not disputing that fact, Richard. I responded to your comment calling Neem a surfactant, which it would not be, as it is an oil, and thus not a chemical compound categorized as a surfactant. And, that Neem oil is, by virtue of the fact that it kills insects, a pesticide. :slight_smile:

There is no registration category for “horticultural oil” – for good reason.
Both factually and legally, it is a surfactant.

Richard, we’re not arguing that “horticultural oil” has a registration category. No one is disputing that. And Neem oil is not a surfactant. It is an oil. Oils are not surfactants. Oils are oils. Folks will add a surfactant (such as an insecticidal soap) to a spray mix to emulsify the Neem oil, so it will dissolve in water. Please provide the data to back up your claim.

As long as you two are hashing this one through, emulsification is not the same as dissolving. I just wanted to clarify that.

Patty is right, neem oil is an oil. It is hydrophobic and requires a surfactant (or surfactant and co-surfactant) in order to emulsify with water. I expect some preparations sold for garden use have the surfactants in the concentrate so that you don’t wind up with something that looks like vinaigrette when you mix it with water.

As for being a pesticide, I’d say you are both right. It just depends on whether you’re talking about the government classification or common use of the term. That’s like debating over whether salt is an herbicide.

I’m not an expert on this. I don’t claim to be and never expect to be.

I suspect that the main thing neem does is simply discourage bugs from feeding on treated plants. From some things that I’ve read, it appears that its ability to actually kill larvae depends on the amount of azadirachtin and/or the fineness of the emulsification. My current understanding could well be wrong.

Every time I’ve used oil on a plant that gets more than a couple hours of sun I burn the hell out of the leaves. Now I stick to insecticidal soap… doesn’t seem to work as well but doesn’t kill my trees or veggies either.