Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > June 2013 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--What's "Bugging" You?

BONNIE'S GARDEN--What's "Bugging" You?

When I’m out admiring my garden and keeping my eye out for problems, I also look for things like holes in the leaves or chewing damage on the outer edges. I look for little “patches” of eggs on the bottoms of leaves. And I check newest growth for distorted leaves which could be a sign of aphid damage.
As much as we love our home-grown veggies, insects love them even more. As always, the best defense is following good garden practices (mentioned in last week’s blog “What is Wrong With My Tomato.”)
Some of the more common veggie pests are:
STINKBUGS—Resemble squash bugs. Stink bugs tend to prefer tomatoes so if on squash plants, are probably squash bugs. Pyrethrins are fairly effective against stink bugs, applying early morning or late evening. Keep your garden free of debris.
SQUASH BUGS—Light to dark gray and shaped something like a stink bug. The best defense, again, is to keep gardens free of debris. You can trap by laying out boards or newspapers during the day. Squash bugs will congregate underneath and you can destroy them. If you do use pest controls, be sure to apply early morning or evening to avoid killing bees. Check leaves often for reddish brown eggs (laid in clusters of 10 to 15) and destroy them—easily done by picking off with the sticky side of duct tape. Tansy, borage, radishes and nasturtiums may repel them.
CUCUMBER BEETLES—Yellowish-green with dark stripes. They spread disease so keep them under control. Inspect plants often. If you had beetles last year, then plant cucumbers later this year so that your neighbor’s earlier crop will get them instead of yours. They hatch hungry, mid to end May. If you plant later, you can miss them altogether. Dipel is effective against young just hatched beetles. Rotenone dust is also okay or you can hand-pick. Radishes, rue and tansy repel them.
SQUASH VINE BORER—Caterpillars that bore into the stem. The stems begin wilting at the tips and it will eventually kill the entire stem. Spray stems with Dipel or insecticidal soap weekly or wrap stems in foil or strips of muslin or pantyhose. Cover stems with soil at various points along its length to induce rooting. If the borer does get in the crown end stem, if the middle of the stem has roots, the ends will continue to grow.
TOMATO HORNWORM—3 to 4” long green caterpillars that feed voraciously on tomato family members. The best control is to hand pick. If they have little white eggs on the back, leave those as they are hosting the eggs to parasitic wasps. Be careful, though, as hornworms can sting.
CABBAGE LOOPERS—Little green inch-worms that prefer cabbage family members (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.) Loopers are easily picked off. Destroy eggs when you find them. Oregano and mint are said to repel them.
MEXICAN BEAN BEETLES—They look like yellow/brown lady bugs and the larva are yellow and spiny. Look for yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves laid in clusters of 30-40. While they do prefer beans, they will occasionally be found on peas, squash or tomatoes. Handpick adults and remove egg clusters. If necessary, insecticidal soap or neem oil may be used—particularly on the undersides of leaves. Bush beans are less likely to get them.
APHIDS—Little oval insects come in several colors and congregate on new growth and flower buds. They are a problem because they are so plentiful—and because they can transmit plant diseases. Aphids can give birth to live young—and without mating. One aphid can produce 600 billion descendants in one season!  And they are actually born pregnant!!!  However, they are easily washed off or can be treated with a mild organic pesticide. Garlic, onions, basil and marigolds can repel them (remember not to plant onion family members near beans or peas.)
There are many other insects out there just waiting for a chance to pounce on our crops. Be diligent and be sure you get there first!
Posted: 6/24/2013 by Bonnie Pega | with 6 comment(s)
Filed under: BonniePega, Bonnie'sGarden
Bonnie Pega
Hi Dianna, This has been a very challenged season for peppers. Peppers like to warm and dry. This spring has been anything but! It may well be early blight (which can attached any tomato family member). If the plants are growing new leaves, pick the old ones off and spray with an organic fungicide spray (neem oil is good). If the problem continues, then pull them up. There are a lot insects that munch on peppers. The best time to check for them is about 9 at night with a flashlight--that's usually when they come out to eat. Spraying the plant then with a spray containing pyrethrins may help. Be sure to get the tops and undersides of the leaves.
6/28/2013 11:48:39 AM

Hi Gwen, there are any number of things that can affect the bottom leaves on a tomato. It could be something as simple as our unusually damp weather. If the top leaves look good and are growing and the plant is blooming and fruiting well, then I'd pick them off. If there are many of them and they're progressing up the plant, it could be one of the many other diseases that affect tomatoes. Keep your eye on it for a few days, if it gets worse, the only real solution is to remove the plant and keep tomatoes and tomato family members out of the spot for three years. If it is caused by the cooler damp start to the spring, then these warmer days may address it.
6/28/2013 11:43:46 AM

What can cause the lower branches of tomato plants to become yellow and die?...could it be too much H2O,or too much sun?
6/27/2013 12:28:42 PM

This information is wonderful. I have pepper plants that I bought and they seem to be wilting. They are producing peppers one day and the next the leaves look all wilted. There were four green pepper plants & four yellow pepper plants. Two of the green pepper plants just dried up. Yesterday I removed two nice size yellow peppers from two plants. Because one plant looked as it had wilting leaves. Another yellow pepper plant had a nice size pepper but it had a very bad soft spot. So I removed it and dispose of it. I just went to look at the plants and the leaves have chewing damage. I also looked at the bottom of the leaves and didn't see any bugs. The yellow pepper plant that looked as the leaves were going to wilt looked better. I am not sure what is going on? Can you help?
6/27/2013 11:47:41 AM

Just wonderful! Keep blogging! :)
6/27/2013 11:34:09 AM

You make gardening so easy for folks with all the pertinent information right here! We don't even have to look it up!
Happy gardening!
6/27/2013 10:05:13 AM

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