1. Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

Cure For Cochineal?

Discussion in 'Tortoise Diet and Food' started by Tom, Oct 27, 2017.

  1. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    41,509
    Likes Received:
    18,806
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    Unknown.jpeg
    8568560-3x2-940x627.jpg

    Does anyone know of a cure for this cactus infesting insect? They are driving me crazy. I have a lot of cactus stands and these bugs are a serious problem.

    • I can't use insecticides or other toxics, because this is food for my tortoises.
    • Soapy water doesn't work.
    • Various lemon juice, vinegar, etc. solutions don't work.
    • I blast it off with the hose, but it always comes back in force. If I had nothing but free time to go around and blast 40+ cactus stands every couple of days, I could really make a dent, but I don't have that kind of time.
    • I called Rincon Vitova for some biological control, but they weren't much help. They have a bug that eats these "mealy bugs" called Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, but these lady bug relatives are very expensive and require moderately high levels of humidity and like it warm, but not hot. They won't live long in my hot dry climate. The lady on the phone thought green lace wings might help too, so I'm going to try those in spring.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for how to get rid of it once and for all? I've read hours worth of stuff on this and have not found a solution that works.
  2. G-stars

    G-stars Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Messages:
    1,589
    Likes Received:
    980
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    So Cal
    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    I have this issue as well. The only thing that has worked for me is hosing it down every couple of days and/or cut of the infected pads so it doesn't spread.
  3. Bambam1989

    Bambam1989 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2017
    Messages:
    2,521
    Likes Received:
    6,239
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Washington
  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    41,509
    Likes Received:
    18,806
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    I do both of those, but then I get lazy, distracted or busy with work and 3-4 weeks will go by, and my cactus are covered with it again.

    I detest these little creatures!
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    41,509
    Likes Received:
    18,806
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    I don't know what this is, so this is a new suggestion. It says it is a broad spectrum insecticide but it still passes muster for spraying on "organic" food crops??? How can that be? I'll have to research this one. I'm very leery of chemicals...

    Thank you. It would be WONDERFUL if this stuff works and is safe to use on my tortoises food.
  6. Bambam1989

    Bambam1989 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2017
    Messages:
    2,521
    Likes Received:
    6,239
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Washington
    It's made from chrysanthemum oil if I'm not mistaken. I know it will kill an aphid in seconds. I just don't know about how it may affect torts?
  7. SteveW

    SteveW Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2015
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    316
    Trophy Points:
    63
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    41,509
    Likes Received:
    18,806
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    Looks like the active ingredient is Pyrethrin. Same stuff used in flea sprays.

    When I spray that on the cactus it will drip into the soil and then be taken up by the roots. Is this not a problem when I go to feed out the pads? Have you used this product on your cactus stands?
  9. SteveW

    SteveW Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2015
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    316
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Don't have a cactus stand, but have used it in and around gardens and farms and used to oversee the organic program at the Ag dept. The chemical names get tricky, but 'pyrethrum' is the (old) name of a genus of chrysanthemums from which 'pyrethrum' (the pesticide) and the active ingredients (pyrethrins) are derived. At this point, the pesticide is still considered 'organic' as it is naturally derived and biodegrades quickly by water and/or sunlight.
    This differs from flea collars or commercial 'non-organic' pyrethrin as those formulations contain piperonyl butoxcide (PBO) which acts as a synergist to stabilize and enhance the neurotoxicity. Same active, but no longer 'organic'. Also relevant are the pyrethroids, which are long lasting synthetic compounds of a similar structure and mode of action, but much longer duration of activity.
    Going back to the original material suggested, it is considered safe and in compliance with organic farming to treat commodities for human consumption up to the date of harvest. Also, Peaceful Valley is a great resource. See if they have a recommendation.
    Iochroma likes this.
  10. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    41,509
    Likes Received:
    18,806
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    Thank you Steve. I've been doing business with them for years and have always been happy. I'll give them a call on Monday.
  11. mark1

    mark1 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2015
    Messages:
    632
    Likes Received:
    757
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    ohio
    I think pyrethrins might not be safe for reptiles , definitely will kill fish , and I believe cats ......... I think imadcloprid might be safer , although really bad for bees ....I don't think your gonna find anything that's completely safe , maybe diatomaceous earth or borax would work , did you add vegetable oil to your soapy water ? if you find something really safe , i'd love to hear about it .........
  12. SteveW

    SteveW Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2015
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    316
    Trophy Points:
    63
    That's kind of a different question. I'm not suggesting treating the tortoises with pyrethrins or anything else. I was suggesting that material as an effective treatment for scale that would biodegrade rapidly. At that point, reptile susceptibility would be moot. As for imadicloprid, it can remain active in soil for months to years.
    That's the tricky thing about 'really safe'. You have to define your terms and risk tolerance.
    Bambam1989 likes this.
  13. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    73,604
    Likes Received:
    34,482
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Clovis, CA
    I have found that a stressed plant is much more susceptible to insect invasion. Hose them off to get rid of the pests, then water the plants more frequently.
    K8E K, Will and Tom like this.
  14. mark1

    mark1 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2015
    Messages:
    632
    Likes Received:
    757
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    ohio
    i didn't know if his tortoises have access to the plants or not .....they do have a product contains pyrethins they use for snake mites ? I just prefer to use imidacloprid on and around my dogs ,it does work better . I do realize it last a long time , I've used it as a drench on pear trees , my dogs will eat pears they find on the ground , i just trust it has very low toxicity to anything but insects , vets will have folks put it directly on their puppies ........ there is a book called "understanding reptile parasites" , there is a section in it on pyrethrins , i believe there are different kinds and often they add adjuvants to them to make them work better or last longer ........​
  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    41,509
    Likes Received:
    18,806
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    Can I ask about the rapid biodegredation? Due to the unique nature in which cactus live in dry soil and dry conditions and then rapidly suck up and water the roots come into contact with, what happens when the roots absorb this chemically treated water? I don't think there is any time for boidegredation before absorption, so does the chemical biodegrade inside the cactus pad?

    I've learned about the systemic pesticides used in commercial nurseries where the pesticide is absorbed into the plant's tissues and can remain toxic for a year. Obviously this is a different chemical compound, but the concept seems similar even if the duration of toxicity and level of toxicity might be different.

    Perhaps I should water all the cactus heavily for a couple of days prior to application of this pesticide to reduce uptake?

    Your time and knowledge are appreciated here.
  16. SteveW

    SteveW Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2015
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    316
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Hi Tom,

    Sorry about the delay and the imprecise language. 'Biodegradation' does indeed mean microbial action and typically in the soil. More relevant in your case is that the unstabilized pyrethrins (i.e. those approved for organic use) have a half-life of 10-15 minutes in sunlight. This is both the strength and weakness of the material in that it has a strong initial effect but breaks down very rapidly. I'm on the road and away from any toxicology reference, but my approximation is close. I think Wiley Toxicology is available via Google and can give you more complete info regarding residuals and environmental fate.

    Hope this helps.
  17. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    41,509
    Likes Received:
    18,806
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    Any idea how long the chemical lasts, when not in sunlight? Like when it absorbs into the dirt where the cactus roots are? Suppose I use it at dusk or after nightfall to get more effectiveness against these awful critters. How long does it last then?
  18. DancesWithDinosaurs

    DancesWithDinosaurs New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2017
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    USA
    I avoid all pesticides. Natural can be deadly! Oleander are natural but deadly. You can get free advice by calling your counties Master Gardener Program. Integrative planting, to attract good bugs and or to attract bad bugs elsewhere, is always a safe way to go. Once they identify the type of pest, it will be easier to enact a solution and take preventative measures. Some insects are handled by adding bird feeders and water bowls with rock above and around the water, to attract happy little frogs. Frogs can eat most problem insects. Spritzing vinegar on then following with baking soda will have a chemical reaction to suds up and strip the insects. Leave on a short time, to avoid eating away outter layer of cactus. Rinse off with water spray. Mother Nature is hungry. You will have an on going situation. Hopefully attracting good pests, bird's and frogs will keep a nice balance for your cacti to get healthy. Smothering by painting on a coat of veg oil, over insects might help, but then you have to follow up by removing oil. All while remembering, everything poses a possible issue to good pests and little creatures in your habitat. Less is best. Killing a pest, doesn't solve why they were attracted to your plant's. Making sure your plant's are thriving, is often the best preventative medicine. There may be plant's, such as marigolds, that attract as well as repel certain insects. I wish you success! Let us know what you come up with. Happy lizards and frogs might be a great option:)
  19. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2015
    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    70
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Eugene, OR
    Personally....... Use whatever pesticide that doesn't kill bees and will do the job and meanwhile buy their cactus from the store until the bugs are GONE and the poison is degraded and gone. I don't really see any of these half measures getting rid of these miserable little pests.
  20. SteveW

    SteveW Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2015
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    316
    Trophy Points:
    63

    Here is tox profile that may be helpful:

    http://cdpr.ca.gov/docs/emon/pubs/fatememo/pyrethrin_efate2.pdf
    Iochroma and Tom like this.
Similar Threads: Cure Cochineal
Forum Title Date
Tortoise Diet and Food White-fly Hibiscus cure. Mar 19, 2012

Share This Page