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BONNIE'S GARDEN--What's Bugging You Again

It's about that time!  As our gardens grow, there is more to love--and more for insects to eat!

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--keeping weeds and debris out of our garden, for example.

 Some of the more common veggie pests are:

STINKBUGS—Stink bugs resemble squash bugs. Stink bugs tend to prefer tomatoes so if you find what you think are stink bugs on squash plants, they 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 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—The beetles are 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 in late spring. If you plant after mid-May, 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—Borers are 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 hornworms as they are hosting the eggs to parasitic wasps. Just gently relocate them to the bottom of the tomato plant so that they don’t eat the newest leaves or flowers.  Use gloves when handling as hornworms can sting.

CABBAGE LOOPERS—Loopers are 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 that 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 (Don’t 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!

However you decide to treat for insects, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read the label directions first--and be sure it says it is okay for use on edible crops.  Also, because so many of our vegetable plants attract pollinators, spray just before dark to give them a chance to go home first.
Posted: 6/5/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 1 comment(s)
Rolly pollies (also called "Pill Bugs" aren't hurting your plants. They're basically living on decaying organic debris in the soil. Believe it or not--they're technically not even a bug--but a crustacean--like a shrimp or lobster. They have been known to eat the eggs of stinkbugs.
Ants generally do not bother plants. They may be attracted by a secretion of certain sucking insects so if you see a lot of them on your plants, I'd check for aphids, mealy bug or scale--all of which leave a secretion the ants like. If the ant hills are a problem, then a chemical-free way to get rid of them is to pour boiling water over the area---just not too close to plant roots! In my garden, I just leave them alone.
6/13/2017 7:40:37 PM

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