Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Found grub worms in the garden. Grub worms are the larvae of garden beetles. As grubs, they eat on the soil and roots of plants until they become beetles. Then, as beetles, they eat on the leaves of the plants.
The natural predators of these larvae are birds, racoons, and skunks. Raccoons and skunks are the cutest things, but they also like to dig up the ground and possibly my crops for that tasty larvae. To avoid this possibility, I‘m trying bird seed (to get birds to help me out) and neem oil.
Neem oil, a non man-made substance, contains Azadirachtin*. Azadirachtin helps to eliminate grubs and other-use insects within the garden in several ways. For some bugs, it fills the stomach, for others, it poisons the stomach. For grubs, in particular, azadirachtin inhibits the molting process. When the grub hibernates for transition into adulthood, or “molts”, the hormone required for reawakening is blocked. Consequently, the grub dies and the infestation goes away. The half-life* of Neem on leaves, where mildew and fungi can dwell, is 1-2.5 days. For this reason, Neem oil must be re-applied (individual garden requirements may vary). I’m applying it every three days and will monitor the results. I can make adjustments as necessary. What is “Neem” anyway?
The Neem Tree is native to the Indian continent. However, it grows in southern Asia and the hotter areas of Florida.
Searching for a Neem Tree to cultivate in my own garden, brought about a wealth of information. Neem trees are spermicidal. As with the grub, described above, Neem blocks essential birth hormones (rebirth in the grubs’ case). Neem Trees are also known to deter/repel mosquitoes. This has clearly been lost to living memory. These mosquitoes here in Florida are no joke! But I digress, my eden is their eatin‘ too😉. Properties of the Neem Tree are myriad. Preventing life isn’t even the half of it.
Neem treats and prevents a range of dis-eases from arthritis to bacterial vaginosis.
Neem prevents cancer causing agents and “free-radicals” said to age the skin. The Neem Tree is essentially, a tree of life and death. It would seem that such a universal one stop shop would appeal to human kind. And it does. However, I live where capitalism rules and this tree, being a natural substance, has not been studied completely. That is to say, a way to patent the traits has not yet beeen discovered, in short, there‘s no money in it.
*Azadirachtin, a major component of neem oil, is rapidly broken down. Microbes and light break down the pesticide in soil, water and on plants. The half-life of azadirachtin in soil ranges from 3 - 44 days. In water, the half-life ranges from 48 minutes to 4 days. It also rapidly breaks down on plant leaves; the half-life if 1 - 2.5 days. The remaining components of neem oil are broken down by microbes in most soil and water environments.