Saving Frangipani (Araliya) trees from destruction


Sri Lanka’s famed Araliya (Frangipani) trees – (also called “temple trees”) are being eaten away by a species of mealybug. Ayesha Inoon’s article in the Sunday times has a detailed overview of the situation. A letter in the Island paper offers a gardener’s point of view on the situation. According to the an Agriculture department instructor quoted in the Sunday Times article, the simplest response is

Spraying water at high pressure from a hose, spraying soap water, sprinkling ash, or kohomba leaf juice, are all effective cultural practices that work if practised regularly

ehowto’s page on Mealybug Control provides similar solution along with more detailed responses.

I am no green thumb but I have seen the effects of the situation on my mother’s beloved Araliya tree. Its not looking rather glum after multiple amputations. The sight has a unexpected psychological effect on us humans too.

Thankfully there is plenty of information on the web but the critical thing is to get off your computer and take care of the plants.

10 comments

  1. Yeah, the Araliya trees in my garden weren’t spared either. But the mealybug struck some weeks back right? We haven’t really done anything about it but the trees seem to be alright now… A few leaves have grown back and they’re blossoming again…

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  2. Dee: Indeed😐 Thankfully my mother is pulling out all the stops. Hope it works

    Tumbleweed: Yes it struck a while back but no one seems to be that concerned. I guess there’s plenty of legitimate priorities around😉 Seems your trees were lucky though. Hope it works out for everyone.

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  3. look frangipani isn’t even an asian tree, its from south america. i have no idea how it became associated with temples. apart from the flowers, they are pretty useless anyway, bears no fruit, completely useless to local animals, not even a very good shade tree.

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  4. Apart from the methods quoted from the Sunday Times article, there is another possible way to curb this issue by biological means.

    The larval form of a small butterfly that is found in the entire Oriental region including Sri Lanka named Apefly (Spalgis epeus) is carnivorous and feed almost exclusively on Mealy bugs in their larval form. They do not have a “food plant” as most butterflies do that their larvae feed upon.

    So, having butterfly nectaring plants in your yard will attract Apeflies among other butterflies to your garden and should help you to curb the mealy bug-gers. They arrive in my yard at around 2.30 p.m. almost every day!

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  5. Gallicissa: That is a very good tip🙂 Thank you for that.

    nuwan: Stuff comes from all over the place. Islam originated in the middle east but Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation.😉

    As for the temple tree thing, I’m willing to bet that it has all to do with the pretty flowers. Must have got used in Buddhist temple quite a bit.

    I think the visual appearance of the frangipani flower adds a positive psychological impact to a space – at least for the humans.

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  6. I have mealybugs on my frangipani and i have a koi pond below it and I don’t know what to do to spray it that will get rid of the mealybugs and not hurt my koi fish. Can anyone please help me. Will the mealybug on the leaves hurt the fish?

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    • Sorry I’m not the best person to ask about these.

      Koi can get seriously affected by chemicals in the water and water quality according to friends who have them. Specially if you are spraying chemicals.

      Best check with an expert on the fish and plant side.

      Not the best help but better to be safe than sorry.

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