Help with safe insect control for plants in enclosure

MauiSulcata

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Dec 21, 2015
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Maui, Hawaii
Aloha! We need to treat our yard for a horrible infestation of mealybugs - they are destroying all of our landscaping, plants, trees, garden, etc, including the edible plants (hibiscus and cactus) inside my tortoise enclosure. This bug is an invasive species where I live in Hawaii, which has a very delicate ecosystem and we have a responsibility to help control these invasive species to protect our environment. However, our yard is untreated and I am concerned about using anything that could be unsafe for our tortoise. The recommendation from the State of Hawaii Invasive Species Council is to spray the bug (on the infested plant) with a mixture of 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol and 1 quart liquid soap, let it sit for 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with water. The alcohol strips away the waxy coating on the bug so the soap can penetrate and kill it. Then you repeat every 3 days as necessary until all of the bugs are gone.

I am concerned about the alcohol and soap getting onto the grass and weeds that my tortoise grazes on. I'm not sure what to do as I have to get rid of these bugs. I am running a risk of not only being fined by our HOA because the infestation has spread from our yard to several neighbors and common areas, but the state environmental agency as well if I don't get the invasive species under control soon. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
 

Big Charlie

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Can you temporarily block off the grass and weed area where the alcohol and soap might end up? I don't think either of those items are especially toxic as long as they get diluted enough. So if you rinse well and wait a day so the runoff will soak into the ground, it is my personal opinion that it would be safe for your tortoise. I would probably wait a little longer before letting your tort have access to the hibiscus and cactus.
 

MauiSulcata

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Dec 21, 2015
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Maui, Hawaii
Can you temporarily block off the grass and weed area where the alcohol and soap might end up? I don't think either of those items are especially toxic as long as they get diluted enough. So if you rinse well and wait a day so the runoff will soak into the ground, it is my personal opinion that it would be safe for your tortoise. I would probably wait a little longer before letting your tort have access to the hibiscus and cactus.

Thank you! Yes, my tortoise (Darwin) is still young - he is about 2 years old and stays inside at night or if it's raining outside. I put him outside during the day to graze and get sun (and he seems happiest when he gets lots of time outside, plus it's naturally more humid in our climate - I'm fortunate that our temperature is perfect all year long). I can just keep him inside in his indoor enclosure for several days and do lots of extra watering to help dilute. Even better if we get some rain during that time (we typically get a little rain overnight most nights where I live).
 

wellington

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I think seeing he is still young I would keep him indoors and do the complete bug treatment that is recommended. Then when the bugs are dead, water the area really well for a day and wait a couple more days after that to put him back out. He will be fine indoors for a week or two while doing this as long as you have an enclosure for him that he can move around in.
If you don't, it won't matter if he's out or not there won't be anything left to graze on and you will risk being find and the bugs getting way out of control and remaining to continue destroying
 
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