Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Battle of the White Flies: Day 41

Day 41 has come and gone. At least I think it's day 41. There have been a couple more power outages, but at least this time the system kept track of the right date and time. 

Here's today's tip:

"For the best flavor, harvest herbs just before using. Any time you prune, you can use them in salads, soups, on frozen pizza, etc."

The herbs are about the same as last time. The cilantro continues to hang on but it's struggling. We used a bunch of the basil.

As you can see from the two whitefly traps, the whiteflies are still a problem. I thought I had cleared them all away, but when we tried to pick some basil after about two days of not checking, a whole bunch of flies flew out at us.

Persistence is the key to battling whiteflies. I'm not using any chemicals, I'm just using a Dyson handheld vacuum cleaner, shaking the plants, and picking them off as they fly out. A lot of times the yellow sticky traps will do the job for me, as the flies have a tendency to fly full-speed right into them.

I noticed, though, that the flies are getting more resistant. Some flies will fly into the traps but wiggle their way off. Other flies will cling onto the leaves no matter how much I shake them.

I notice they really like the sage and the basil. I've been trying to pick off leaves that I notice a lot of flies on, especially ones where I see the telltale signs of whitefly eggs (they look like translucent scales on the underside of the leaves). So far, the battle seems to be a draw--I manage to clear them away, but if I don't stay on top of them they'll come back with a vengeance. Also, I notice the basil that started so strongly is beginning to struggle; I'm wondering how affected it has been from the flies sucking at its juices.

In the meantime, the tomatoes in the Aerogarden above are still doing pretty well. Happily, the whiteflies don't seem to care for the taste of tomato leaves.

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