Wee Garden

Weeds and Pests

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Yuck, I don't even want to think about bugs and critters and such.  I have a Pleasantville image of gardening, that doesn't include pesky insects and critters, bugs especially.  But real time and my image aren't the same thing.  Of necessity, we must all deal with the ecosystem the lives in our yards and gardens.

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(Acyrthosiphonpisum myzuspersicae)
Aphids are typically found to be green, black, brown, or red.  The adult, pear shaped body, is 1/16th-1/8th in. long.  Found along stems or undersides of leaves, these sap sucking insects feed in colonies.   Damaged plant leaves curl and become deformed.  Aphids attack over 200 varieties of plants.

Cabbage Maggot
The adult cabbage maggot has an appearance similar to a that of a house-fly.  Damaged plants will look pale green and stunted and may wilt.  Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radish, and turnips are the primary host plants.

Colorado Potato Beetle
(Leptinotarsa decemlineata)
The adult Colorado potato beetle is 3/8 in. long.  It feeds on leaves hindering development of tubers or fruit.  Potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers are the primary host plants.   

Corn Earworm
Also known as the Tomato Fruitworm or Cotton Bollworm. The corn earworm in it's adult stage is a moth. Infestation results in appearance of ragged holes in fruits and buds.  Corn is the primary host plant.  

Japanese Beetle
(Popillia japonica)
The green-copper adult Japanese beetle grows to 1/2 in. long.   Plant leaves become skeletized and fruit damage occurs.  Attacks many plant varieties.

Silverleaf Whitefly
(Bemisia argentifolii)
The adult Silverleaf Whitefly is 1/16 in. long.  It sucks the sap from plants, stunting growth.  This pest has over 500 different host plants including attacks petunia, rose, and crepe myrtle.

Striped Cucumber Beetle
(Acalymma vittatum)
Yellow-orange eggs can be found in clusters of 25-50 on the underside of plant leaves.  The adult cucumber beetle is 1/4 in. long.   Damages plant by chewing holes into the leaves.   Cucumber, cantaloupe, squash, pumpkin, and watermelon are the primary host plants.

Squash Vine Borer
(Melittia safyriniformis)
The adult squash vine borer moth is 5/8 in. long and resembles a wasp.  Larvae bore within the stem.  Infestation results in sudden wilt of plant.  Zucchinni, squash, and pumpkin are the primary host plants.

Adult thrips are less than 2 mm long.  Plants have course stippling on the leaf surface and browning of the petals.  Most vegetable, flower, and orchard crops are attacked by at least one species of thrip.

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Tips for Managing Pests

Visit your garden once a day to catch insect damage before it gets severe. Look for ragged leaves from chewing, eggs laid on the back side of leaves, slime tails of slugs, pellets of caterpillar fecal material in plant crowns, and stippling on the leaves. The sooner you discover the damage, the quicker you can control it, and lessen the loss.
Hot Enough For You?

I think one of the most basic home remedy pest controls is a hot pepper spray. There are commercial products available, but I like making my own using hot pepper and garlic. I use 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper flakes and 2 cloves of garlic, a dash of liquid soap and 1 quart of water. I pop everything into the blender and mix well. I strain the mixture and pour it into a hand sprayer. Spraying this mix on soft- bodied insects such as aphids makes them leave in a hurry. Caterpillars and beetles usually avoid munching on leaves sprayed with a hot pepper solution. This recipe also works well repelling critters such as rabbits, but you'll have to reapply this mixture after a rain.
Bug Cocktails

Although not for the squeamish, another effective pest repellent is bug juice -- beetles, caterpillars, or slugs pureed in water. It is most effective when sprayed wherever you find the ingredients. Whether it's the smell of panic hormones that are believed to be released prior to and during the blending process, or just common sense, bugs don't return to an area that has been saturated with their blended colleagues. For obvious reasons, I don't usually spray my vegetable crops with this mixture!
Control Slugs
With our mild, wet, spring weather, slugs are having a field day. They eat holes in the leaves of many plants, feeding mostly at night but leaving a tell-tale trail of slime. There are many chemical and non-chemical controls for slugs, but one I've used successfully for the past 3 years contains iron phosphate as the active ingredient. The slugs eat the pellets and die, yet the iron phosphate won't harm other wildlife or the environment.
Control Mosquitoes
Inspect your yard for areas with standing water, such as empty nursery pots, old tires, or upturned garbage can lids, and dump them. Mosquitoes breed in these places, and by removing them you'll get a head start on controlling the pests. Use commercial mosquito dunks in ponds; these disks contain a specific strain of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that controls the mosquito larvae. Be sure to follow label instructions.
Rodents Eating Bulbs
I want to plant bulbs this fall, but rodents always manage to find them. How can I keep the critters away?
You can try using soup-size cans with both ends removed. Punch several holes in the cans for drainage, then push each one down into the ground so that it forms a cylinder around a bulb      

Tip 2: Climbing Vines

Climbing vines can be a beautiful addition to your garden. But beware -- certain kinds of vines can become a nuisance if too vigorous for your climate. Check with your local nursery before you plant them.

List of Tips

Have a tip or two you'd like to share? Send it to me and I'll post it here:

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--Beware of Snapdragons--

--Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade--
--My husband said if I buy any more perennials he would leave me...gosh, I'm going to miss that man!--