Friday, June 10, 2005

The Old Testament

For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

Exodus 10:15

Know thy enemy. I have been reading up on the most damaging of garden pests recently and have learned much. The pictures of the major 4 offenders are published above.

The Colorado potato beetle

I never gave much thought to where the CPB came from. I think I thought it flew here from Colorado each spring just as my potatoes were emerging. Only yesterday did I learn that in fact they over winter in the ground. I had no idea! It turns out they emerge from the ground about now as full adults and begin mating and laying those little orange eggs on potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes… this year it was tomatoes because tomatoes are in the bed where I had eggplants last year. Moreover, it is the larvae that do the eating, not the adults. So the trick is to catch the parents and scrape off the eggs. I am in the market for good CPB caviar recipes.

So right now I am into squishing and scraping. And I have put summer weight cloth over the potatoes

The Squash Borer

Knowing the life cycle of critters is helpful. The eggs of the squash borer are laid by a clearwing moth that resembles a wasp. It lays brown eggs on the stem in late June and early July. These eggs then grow into the dreaded squash borer that can end zucchini production (some seasons mercifully) overnight in mid-July.

I am planning my attack. One thought is to wrap the base of the vine in aluminum foil. Another is to use Bull’s Eye on the base of the plant starting June 20. The third is to cover with summer weight cloth. The problem with covering is the bees can’t find the blossoms. Hand pollination just seems … well let’s just say Gregor Mendel I am not.

The Mexican bean beetle

I saw thousands of these when I ended the green bean season last year. It didn’t slow the production of beans … or so I thought. Row covers might be the answer for this little devil.

The (dreaded) Tomato Hornworm

My first memory of these as a child was when my father gave me one to play with off of a tomato plant. I didn’t know I was supposed to be afraid. Now I always wear gloves when performing the unpleasant task of removal. The trick is to spot the guy who looks ever so much like a tomato leaf curled in the sun.

I never have been lucky enough to see a sphinx moth, but apparently they are in the ground now waiting to emerge and display their 5 inch wingspan before laying the eggs on my tomato plants. Last year I only saw one hornworm, so maybe I have broken the cycle.

Those pests that attack corn are worthy of their own chapter. I was able to keep them at bay last year by doing two things. #1 planting corn earlier #2 spraying the foliage with an insecti


billy said...

hi leslie,

i'm billy at in yarmouthport on the cape, new farm and those damn squash borers are after new ground!!

thansk for your experience

Leslie said...

Thanks for the heads up on your farm on the Cape. What a wonderful labor of love. I'll keep up with your story on your website (which is very nicely done!)