R is for raspberry
Micaela is quite the forager, especially when there are berries around; especially when there are raspberries around! But last year she was so disgusted with the harlequin bugs that she rather quickly avoided the whole raspberry lane altogether. And with reason – the berries looked yuk and they tasted worse. And there were bugs everywhere – lots and lots of them – under your feet, on the berries, just everywhere. Apparently they don’t have many natural enemies. We tried squashing as many bugs as we saw and I also sprayed many bottles of organic soap spray on them. It’s supposed to suffocate them, but maybe the organic soap we use isn’t strong enough or thick enough, because they persisted throughout the season.
This year, it seems things have normalised. There is still the odd harlequin bug around, but you almost have to search to find them. We have more raspberries with sun spots on them from the recent heat wave than what we see harlequin bug damage. So little miss barefoot forager is in her element again. If she’s not playing with the chicks, you can find her in the raspberry patch. She’s a good “fair sharer” though – even though I know she stuffs herself while picking (there’s no polite way to put it!), she always picks enough for everybody.
Patricia recently made a fresh raspberry mousse tart. Yum!! It didn’t last long, I can tell you that!
I’m just glad the harlequin bug plague normalised itself. It’s great when that happens by itself. We don’t believe in drastic interventions because that’s when you make nature go even more out of balance. Sometimes you just have to pay your dues to nature. But the important thing is, you have to set yourself up to be able to cater for that. That’s where a “good” permaculture design comes in. If you don’t have diverse and backup elements in place, it’s easy to be run aground by little natural disasters like a plague of harlequin bugs.
My raspberries are getting attacked by the harlequins this year. I put extra work into them this year only for the harlequins to enjoy. Maybe next year I’ll have a bug free crop
We tried spraying them with dishwasher liquid – not sure if it had any effect – but we have way less this year.
Perhaps you could try adding neem oil to the soap solution? I now use that against aphids, although they do still manage to attack the leaves of my currant bushes. The apple trees are no longer bothered by them, though.
Thanks Helen, if they come back I’ll surely give the Neem a try!