Years ago we bought a ficus tree. It was a scrawny little thing but I thought I could bring it around. After a re-potting, some fertilizer and time it turned in to a lovely tree. Then the leaves started to drop off at an alarming rate. I picked up a few and they were sticky to the touch. Then I looked at the tree and saw that it had bumps on the undersides of the leaves as well as these little pockets of fluff where the leaf would meet the branch.
Quick online research and yep. Bugs. Bugs feasting on my tree. Oh no, this was not going to happen. So I washed each leaf with a mild soap and water concoction. I treated the soil with a lovely concoction that would get rid of the bugs without adding a poison to my house. And then painstakingly nursed it back to health. Trimmed the branches that didn't survive. Cleaned up the leaves that fell anyway. Bought a dowel to help prop it up in its weakened condition. And eventually it came back nice and healthy.
And then a few weeks ago I noticed the leaves starting to drop again. "It's fall. It's okay. Even in the house there has been a temperature shift, this is going to be fine." That was the pep talk I gave myself. Until I picked up a leaf and it was sticky. And then I looked at the tree and saw the signs that they were back.
Okay, well, I did this before I can do it again.
Prepped the soil for the treatment and the light caught it just right so I could see all of the little tiny wormy things that had hatched in my soil. That were going to climb my tree and lay their eggs and eat the leaves. Partly fascinated by the sheer number writhing in the soil and partly grossed out by the sheer number making the soil move with their writing I watched for a few minutes. How long had they been breeding in that dirt before I noticed they were killing my tree again? And how long could I keep them at bay this time?
Back online to do more research and I found that they like not only the ficus but the two trees I have in another part of the house.
Go to check those out and they are clear. For now.
So now I was left with a dilemma. Do I go through the wash every leaf, tend to the soil, nurse it back to health routine again or do I realize that unless I am willing to spray everything down with a good layer of poison I'm really fighting a losing battle?
So my ficus went away. Bagged and tagged and sent to the great dump in the sky.
No matter how lovely that tree had been, no matter how much work I'd already put in to making it healthy, the infestation was too great. And the chance of spreading to the healthy trees too much for me to risk.
I'm sure there's a metaphor in here someplace....