Every garden has its share of pests and diseases. Some are minor inconveniences while others make us want to take a blow torch to them (quite literally as I’ve seen people use a blow torch to get rid of weeds). Since I try to garden organically and maintain the balance of nature, a few bugs and minor diseases are part of having a perfectly imperfect garden. But, there are some pests that will drive even the most docile gardener to reach for their arsenal of organic methods of elimination.
So I’m wondering, what pests or garden diseases make you go “Caddyshack?” What pests are on your 10 Most Wanted List? Here’s mine (caution gross pics up ahead…. so if you can’t take it close one eye or squint!):
#10 Leaf Miner
These guys love my spinach. At the rate they were going last year I thought they were gonna give Popeye a run for his money. I used Safer and Neem to manage these.
#9 Powdery Mildew
This common plant disease is not usually a fatal problem, but it was enough to practically take my peonies down to the ground last summer – thankfully AFTER they bloomed (and this year they came back up so I think they are OK). I pulled out the Safer Fungicide to combat this one.
#8 Japanese Beetles
My poor roses…. I’ve only got 3 rose bushes, but they always seem to have problems and Japanese Beetles was one of them. Thankfully they weren’t a huge problem and hand picking seemed to control them just fine. As a side note, when I was child these were a huge problem in my Dad’s garden. He hated them so much that he used to put kerosene in a mason jar, hand pick the beetles, and then put them in the kerosene to watch them go caput! And, all this from one of the most docile guys you could EVER want to meet.
#7 Rose Slug
I often have mistaken rose slug damage for that of the Japanese beeetle. A rose slug is the larvae from a saw fly. It takes the ninja approach and chomps on the underside of the leaves until they are skeletonized. They are very small, green, and difficult to see. Safer or Neem won’t kill them, but BT and Spinosa works well.
#6 Common Slug or Snail
All I can say is YUCK!! Little dishes of beer really worked for me, but disposing of them almost made me lose my breakfast each morning.
#5 Tomato Fruit Worm
The tomato fruit worm can be more of a problem then the dreaded Tomato Horn Worm. I had them last year and mistook the damage for birds. But, thankfully I caught it very early and used Spinosa (BT should work too), which took care of it.
#4 Cabbage Leaf Loopers
I only plant about 6 broccoli plants so at first I hand picked the loopers off. But, then when the nightly routine of picking and squishing leaf loopers became more than a hassle than it was worth, we sprayed with Spinosa which really worked well. Again you could use BT for this, but Spinosa lasts longer and you don’t have to spray as much.
#3 Squash Vine Borer
I only had a few weeks of squash and zucchini before the evil vine borers killed all my plants. I was the only person around with a garden who was accepting summer squash as gifts. I tried slitting the stems open and pulling the borers out --- I know ewww…. I even buried the stems in the ground in hopes that it would reroot, but nothing could save them. I’ve heard that injecting the stems with BT or Spinosa works or even the spraying the stems before the larvae imbeds itself in there. I’ve got a few things up my sleeve I’m going to try this year.
#2 Lily Beetle
Such a deceptive little bug…. So colorful and beautiful to look at, but incredibly destructive. The larvae is disgusting. It look likes little piles of poop on the stems. These beetles have come from the north and have invaded just about all parts of New England. So much so that sales of Asiatic Lilies have plummeted in the Boston area. The lily beetle is very selective in their feeding so they won’t touch anything but Asiatic Lilies. Nothing much works to eliminate them, but Spinosa controls them somewhat. I have some beautiful Asiatic lilies planted in my front perennial bed, but I’m actually going to pull them up in a few weeks and replace them with Day Liles. I know it seems like a shame, but trust me it’s a smart choice. To read up on these beetles, check this out: http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/lilyleafbeetle.html
And…. The Number One Most Wanted is……
#1 The Chipmunk
Why you say??? Such a cute little fella… Well we had only 3 measly strawberries out of 12 plants last year – ‘nuff said! I hope he’s happy!
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