| Jul 17, 2008

Master Gardeners - July 17, 2008

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Master Gardeners - July 17, 2008 Garden Pests by Helen Halpenny, Lanark County Master Gardeners

Just when you have all your little seedlings settled in their outdoor locations and you hope that you will have more rest and relaxation while they grow, along come garden pests to chew, suck and decimate your plants. On a morning walk through your garden you can often spot and deal with little problems before they become big problems. Most bugs are not harmful but every year there are a few that create significant damage and call for stern measures if the plant is to survive.

Cabbage loopers are pale green caterpillars with white stripes along back and sides. They “loop” their way, feeding on the foliage of cole crops and can severely damage the plants. Handpicking and destroying the caterpillars is your first mode of attack. Bacillus thuringienses, a biological insecticide, is very effective and only kills caterpillars. Use it and there will be no little worms on your broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage.

The Colorado potato beetle is sure to cause grief. Adults winter over on the soil and are ready to eat as soon as the potato vines start to grow if you plant potatoes near last year’s crop. Confuse them by planting in a new location if you can. Check the undersides of leaves for the yellow egg masses and squash them. Hand pick the larva when you see them eating the leaves. I take a pail and a wooden shingle and bash the stalks, sending the bugs into the pail. The bugs have a boiling water bath later while I have tea.

Spittlebugs are very prevalent this year. They are sap sucking insects whose immature stages cover themselves with frothy saliva-like masses. The spittle mass protects the growing nymphs. The adults are brownish and readily jump when disturbed. Spittlebugs feed on many herbaceous plants and cause stunting and distorting of plants. Nymphs can be manually picked out of the spittle and destroyed. A jet of water from the hose will dislodge the spittle mass and often the bird population will take care of them. There is usually only one generation of these bugs each year.

Keep an eye out for the red lily beetle. Even when you are conscientious about picking the first adults in early spring there will always be a few more to chew on those precious lilies. Neem oil spray is a very effective control.

Frequent monitoring of your plants is the most effective way to deal with most garden pests. If you need gardening advice, we invite you to call a Master Gardener. Dale Odorizzi, 613-264-8135; Lorri McKay, 613-256-9228

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