Bugs

Flea Beetles

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Flea beetles are most active in spring when adults emerge and their feeding can severely damage seedling plants. Hot-pepper spray can be effective. Commercial pepper sprays are available for purchase also; the active ingredient should be capsaicin.


Diatomaceous earth is safe for children and most beneficial insects, but will repel most flea beetles. Neem oil and some horticultural oils are also effective at repelling flea beetles, these can be purchased from Home Depot and garden centers.



Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew affects squash plants, spreads rapidly, and will travel all over the garden. In addition to squash plants, it will afflict any number of veggies, including: artichokes, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, melons, parsnips, pumpkins, and gourds So if you discover powdery mildew on your squash, keep any eye on other plants in the same family, cucurbits, and start treating them straight away. Disinfect any tools after working around cucurbits. If you use a tool around summer squash, for instance, disinfect the tool before working around cucumbers. If the tool isn’t disinfected properly the powdery mildew spores will be passed from one plant to the other. Disinfect tools with full strength vinegar or a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

Powdery mildew thrives in moist conditions so allowing the leaves to remain damp overnight can increase the likelihood of powdery mildew. It is better to water the soil around the plants and avoid getting the leaves wet.


You will need to prune the leaves that are heavily infected and remove the debris from the garden. Please remember to bring your own bag or use one of the take home trash bags, ( found on the shed door or attached to one of the compost bins). Please do not place diseased vegetation in the compost bins.

To successfully kill powdery mildew on the leaves, you need to act at the earliest sign of infection. One of the best organic treatments is a solution of milk and water sprayed on the leaves.

Early Blight

Early blight is a fungal disease of tomato plants that shows up as spots, usually beginning on leaves of the lowest branches, which then turn yellow and die.


These are the best practices for preventing and treating early blight:

  • Water at the base of plants and avoid wetting leaves

  • Mulch around the base of plants to prevent fungal spores bouncing up from soil during rain

  • Remove lower branches and frequently remove any diseased leaves. Bag and put ALL diseased plant tissues into trash. DO NOT COMPOST or leave on soil.

  • Improve air circulation around plants - encourage upward growth or space well.

  • Seek out disease resistant varieties for next growing season.

  • Rotate crops on a three year schedule, if possible.

  • Spray weekly with baking soda/soap mixture as a preventative ( 1 teaspoon castile soap/1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 gallon water). This is not effective once disease is visible.

  • Control weeds and remove any "volunteer" tomato plants.

  • Remove badly affected plants.


This article will help you to identify early blight.


Striped Cucumber Beetle

The striped cucumber beetle is one of the most devastating pests of cucumbers, all types of squashes, all types of melons, and pumpkins. Both adults and larvae feed on these crops. This insect is also responsible for the spread of plant diseases, such as bacterial wilt and squash mosaic virus. You can treat a striped cucumber beetle infestation in the same way as for flea beetles - Neem oil, diatomaceous earth, and pepper sprays.


Colorado Potato Beetle

Although they are mainly a pest of potato plants, these beetles also lay waste to other members of the hemlock family, such as peppers and eggplant. The beetles start laying larvae as the weather warms. If you are growing eggplant, the potato bug larvae will be gray. As they get larger, you will notice the larvae beginning to sport black dots on their sides. If you see larvae or adult beetles, remove them and drop them in the soapy water. Doing this every day will greatly reduce the number of potato beetles in your garden. Using an insecticidal soap spray is also a good way to control these bugs.



Japanese Beetle


In summer, adult Japanese beetles hatch and emerge from the soil to start feeding. They are voracious eaters, not choosy, and have no natural predators. They are easy to identify and to hand pick. Keep a container of soapy water handy when you go hunting. When you grab one, throw it in the soapy water, or just squish them. We put traps out on fences to lure them away from the garden plots but that is only partially successful so it pays to pay attention to your own plot. You can read more about Japanese beetles here.





Good Bugs

Tiger Beetle

A tiger beetle eats an array of insects. Some have small mandibles and can only eat really small insects, and some have large mandibles that can only eat larger insects. This means that several tiger beetle species with different-sized mandibles can live together in the same habitat because they don't eat each other's food. The beetles construct tunnels in the ground and wait just below the surface for prey to pass by. When they sense something close to the entrance, their head snaps upward like a miniature steel-jawed trap and drags the helpless prey into the tunnel to be eaten.


Photo by Deb.

Braconid Wasp

These are small wasps with narrow waists and long antennae, usually less than ½ inch long, with a long black ovipositor extending from their rear ends. The adults use the ovipositor to lay eggs in caterpillar pests, such as cabbage worms and tomato hornworms. The larvae feed inside their living hosts, weakening or killing them. If you see a caterpillar with cocoons like grains of rice on its skin, you should allow the larvae to hatch to generate the next generation of wasps.


Photo: Richard Bartz under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.


Lacewing

Adult lacewings feed on nectar and pollen. Their offspring are not so pretty and look like leather-armored slugs. The larvae are voracious predators and feed on aphids and soft-bodied caterpillars.


Photo: Donald Holbern under a Creative Commons-BY 2.0 license.