little bugs i have know

we are having a pretty good year in the garden – i’ll post photos some time in the near future.  sorry for the delay in posts, it’s been a busy summer, this is the new norm, don’t expect it to get better.

regardless of the garden doing well, i have been able to spot some so called “pests”.  part of the reason i think i’ve been able to spot them is that unlike other years i’ve actually taken an interest in the home garden. the main reason for the sudden interest is mostly that it’s on my own land – not someone else’s.  i feel more invested.  combined with s’s busy schedule with the new print shop she has opened i find myself poking about the garden more.  and that means noticing more critters lurking about.

cabbagewormfirst up, the cabbage worm.  you can always tell inexperienced vegetable gardeners when they celebrate the lovely white butterflies flittering about the garden.  these are of course the adults of the cabbage worm, which can do some serious damage very quickly.

best defense = good crop rotation, and the use of row cover.  best offense = hand picking, or if you have a large garden or things get out of control, dipel.

carrotwormwhat this carrot worm was doing clinging to the side of this raised bed, i don’t know.  i didn’t see any damage to the carrots in this very same raised beds, but maybe i just missed them.   this is a nice photo of the carrot worm, they eat the hell out of carrots, parsley, dill and others in the umbelliferae family.  unlike the cabbage worms they are easy to see and make hand picking simpler.

best defense = crop rotation and row cover.  best offense = hand picking and dipel if you are dealing with massive infestation .  be aware that these carrot worms become the lovely eastern black swallowtail butterfly.  i happen to like them a lot, and tend to pick the caterpillars off and find a new home for them on some queen anne’s lace (wild carrot) in a lot close by.  you should also know that the caterpillars when disturbed like to shoot out little horn looking things (properly called osmeterium) from their heads – these are self defense mechanism designed to deter you from attacking, but will cause no harm to you.

japanesebeetleoh the last thing i want to see is some japanese beetles, so frustrating, so quick to damage.  for the first seven years of gardening in detroit i never spotted a one and then slowly i’ve been seeing more and more beetles, and more and more damage.

best defense = crop rotation, row cover.  best offense = had picking.  if nothing else it makes you feel better to squish them.

squashvineborerits pretty unusually that we see this one – the adult or the juvenile.  most of the time we just see the damage done.  this is the adult of the squash vine borer; a clear winged moth.  where there are adults there are juveniles, which are who really do the damage.  most of the time we just notice that our plant is wilting all the time even when it has plenty of water.squashborerdamagesome investigation at the base of the plant and you are likely to see this sort of damage, a rotting stem that looks like a bunch of crusty snot is coming out of it (the snotty looking stuff is frass aka bug shit).

best defense = crop rotation, row cover, throwing dirt up on the stems when you cultivate, and succession planting.  best offense = hardly any.

not a pest, but often thought to be are these little alligator looking bugs.  ladybirdbeetlesi’ve never seen this many of these little buggers in my life, all because of the massive aphid outbreak they are feeding on.  the aphids i’m of course not happy to see but the little alligators i am.  they are in fact the larva of lady bird beetles aka lady bugs.  most folks are excited to see lady bugs, i usually see them as a sign of an aphid outbreak, their favorite food.  still i’m happier to see them rather than not.

our finally bug is the oh so pesky flea beetle.  prior to moving to detroit i almost never had flea beetle issues, but in detroit, they are hard core.  fleabeetlesif you can’t see em, they are the little dark spots, next to the holes in the leaves.  a strong crop of flea beetle can destroy yr crop in a couple of days.  it’s pretty amazing what such small creatures can do in a couple of days if working together.

best defense = crop rotation and row cover.  best offense = diatomaceous earth.

what pest are you dealing with in yr garden this year?

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14 responses to “little bugs i have know

  1. Oh man, I’ll have to check the roots of my vine crops because it’s just like you said, wilting and yellowing like they haven’t been watered properly. I was really upset about it. It’s my first year gardening and I figured I screwed it up.

    What I did notice is an insane number of earwigs! They are in everything. They don’t seem like they are damaging anything but they sure do gross me out!

  2. Thanks for this post! I like the pix. There IS a defense against Japanese beetles: Muscovy ducks love them and will actively hunt them down (unfortunately the JB’s are often up high on a plant where the ducks can’t get them, but they’ll get all the ones down on their level).

    • thanks for the duck tip – i’ve considered getting runner ducks – but i’m not sure how i feel about ducks in general. i don’t really feel like cleaning out a pond full of duck shit all the time.

  3. Great post and thanks for the pics. Another pest that will show similar damage to the squash beetle is the Mexican Bean Beetle. It vectors a virus that will cause your cucurbits to wilt… and which kills them D.E.A.D., once they’ve contracted it. You can differentiate this damage from that caused by the borers by the lack of frass around the stem of the plant. Another method you can use to discourage squash beetles is to treat the stems with a Neem application (a deterrent) followed by an application of diatomaceous earth… FWIW…

    • i’m wondering if you are mistaking mexican bean beetle for stripped cucumber beetle. i’ve never seen mexican bean beetles on cucurbits, but stripped (and spotted) cucumber beetles are common, and are vectors for bacterial wilt. thanks for the neem and de tip.

  4. Blister beetles on chard & beets! Also, the Colorado Potato Beetles have moved from the potatoes to the eggplant…
    Thanks for another great post.

  5. I surprisingly haven’t had any bug problems in my vegetable/flower container garden but when I first put the pots out in the spring I think squirrels were digging the smaller plants up and many of them didn’t survive. Thanks for sharing your gardening adventures!

  6. Earwigs love damp and with the rainfall we’ve had in Ontario this summer it’s not a big surprise that I’ve seen tons of these too.

    Patrick, when I was home in Sarnia earlier this summer i saw hundreds of the japanese beetles, mostly floating in Lake Huron. Haven’t seen any in Toronto but while in Quebec last week my aunt had a beetle trap- this one http://www.rescue.com/product/japanese-and-oriental-beetle-trap
    and it was full of the critters. I’m sure they aren’t cheap but maybe you can figure out a DIY version and at least they don’t use pesticides.
    Thanks for the info on the ‘alligator’ bugs, I’ve seen a few of those and always wondered what they were!

    • i’ve always heard that these beetle traps just end up attracting more beetles to yr garden. anyone hear otherwise? anyone had good results? i remember as a kid in the garden, a big yellow bag squirming full of beetles.

  7. Harlequin bugs! I came back after three days away and they were covering all of our Brassicas in the hoophouse. It was time to pull the plants out anyway and I had 20 teenage hands to help me. Some of them were freaked out, some of them enjoyed squishing the bugs between their fingers.

  8. Ugh–aphids galore this year–help!

  9. I know companion planting is a whole huge topic of itself, but we planted a ton of marigolds this year and pests have been way down

  10. Pingback: tomato horn worm meet their demise | little house on the urban prairie

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