Olive tree prays: symptoms and treatments

Olive tree pray is a devastating pest

Image – Wikimedia / Giancarlo Dessi

The olive tree is a fruit tree capable of withstanding the drought and heat typical of the Mediterranean climate for weeks, even without affecting its flowering and subsequent fruiting. In addition, it is not harmed by occasional floods, as long as it grows on light soil capable of draining the water quickly. But there is a plague that can seriously harm you: the olive prays.

At first it will give us the impression that they are only cosmetic damages, but the reality is that If we do not treat it, we will end up with a very weakened plantwhich will not have the necessary strength to produce olives, or not in the quantity that interests us.

What is the olive tree prays?

The Prays is a lepidopteranThe Prays is a lepidopteran

Image – Wikimedia / David Short

The olive prays, also known as olive moth, is an insect whose scientific name is Pray for the oil. It is a lepidopteran of the Yponomeutidae familysubfamily Praydinae, which goes through different stages before becoming an adult. They are as follows:

  • Egg: it is deposited on the underside of the leaves, often next to the midrib.
  • Larva: once the egg has hatched, it feeds on the leaves, but when it finishes developing it can also feed on the flower. Its maximum size will be about 8 millimeters, and it will have a hazelnut-colored body, although the tonality will vary depending on its diet.
  • Adult: turns into a silver-gray butterfly of about 1,3 to 1,4 centimeters.

Although the larva is the one that does the damage, it is the adult who we have to avoid so that the plant does not get harmed. And for this it is important to know that there can be up to three generations in a year:

  • Philosopher, which will be the one that feeds on the leaves. The egg hatches either in late winter or early spring.
  • Antófaga, who prefers flowers. They are larvae daughters of the first ones, and they begin to do damage in spring.
  • Carpophaga, which will cause damage to the fruits. The adults deposit the eggs in the olives, so that their larvae feed on them.

What are the symptoms and / or damages of the olive tree moth?

Symptoms of prays are clearly seen on the leavesThe symptoms of prays are clearly seen on the leaves.

Image – Wikimedia / Giancarlo Dessi

As there are different generations, the damage will be seen in leaves or fruits depending on which it is. But in general, you have to know that the most common symptoms are:

  • Discolored spots on the leaves: this is because the larvae feed on the green part, which is the one that has the sap and therefore the nutrients.
  • Fall of leaves: when they run out of green surface, that is, without chlorophyll, the leaves end up falling.
  • Little holes in the fruits: caused by larvae.
  • Olives with almost no pulp: This is because the larvae feed on it, thus, they are no longer fit for human consumption.
  • Olive tree weakness: as more and more leaves are attacked, the tree loses more and more energy by not losing the ability to photosynthesize. In addition, because of this it becomes vulnerable to other pests and inclement weather.

When to deal with the Prays of the olive tree?

The treatment it should start in wintertowards the middle of said season. Whether we have olive trees that have already been affected by the prays, or not, the ideal will always be to prevent, hence it is highly recommended to treat them as soon as possible.

In this way, we will prevent them from getting sick, but we will also get them to flourish and bear fruit without problems.

How to combat the olive tree prays?

The first thing is, as we said, prevention. We must ensure that the olive tree is well cared for, that it is in full sun and that it is watered and fertilized whenever necessary. It resists drought very well, but we recommend avoiding thirst, especially during flowering and fruiting.

Regular fertilizing during these crucial phases of its development will help keep you energized. Thus, it is advisable to add worm humus (on sale here!)guano (on sale here!), or chicken manure (But be careful if it is fresh: leave it in the sun for 10 days or more to dry and not be so concentrated).

In the event that there are already symptoms but they are mild; that is, you have seen just a few butterflies, it will be highly recommended to deal with Bacillus thuringiensis (on sale here!). This is a very beneficial bacterium for plants, since it does not leave residues, has no safety term, and is also useful against numerous pests: pine processionary, cabbage butterfly, potato moth, … and of course against the prays.

It is used by diluting about 5 milliliters in 1 liter of water, and then spraying (or sprinkling) the leaves with this mixture, on both sides. Afterwards, it is repeated after 8 or 10 days.

What to do if the olive tree is very affected?

The olive prays caterpillar feeds on the leavesThe olive pray caterpillar feeds on the leaves.

Image – Wikimedia / Giancarlo Dessi

If your olive tree has started to lose many leaves and you see it really bad, then it is best to treat it with chemical insecticideslike the one they sell here!. Follow the instructions exactly, since it is a toxic product for this pest, but also for humans if they use it badly. The use of rubber gloves -such as kitchen ones- for example is essential to keep your hands protected.

The olive tree prays is a very important pest, since if it is not treated the harvest is lost. So we hope this article has been useful to you.

Olive tree prays: symptoms and treatments

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