These Are a Few of the Pests That I Frequently See In My Garden and How I Manage Them
Japanese Beetles are a common chewing insect. They originate in Japan, but have been in the US since the early 1900’s. They are most commonly found in the states east of the Mississippi River.
In Delaware where I live we get a lot of them, however the infestations are only severe certain years. The majority of years we only get a very small amount and the damage is minor. However, several years back we had a very bad infestation that devastated our gardens. The only solution that had an significant result in easing the problem was setting up traps that can be bought at any garden store. We set them up on the outskirts of the garden, but the infestation was so bad that we had to supplement the traps with additional control means.
What we ended up doing was setting up a bucket of water with Dawn dish soap in it under the bag of the trap to collect the overflow of beetles. This proved very effective and we caught a lot of beetles that were not going into the trap.
Once we had filled the bucket over the course of a few days we had to dig a foot about a foot deep and bury the beetles. This ensure that any ones that were not dead would not come back to eat our plants. It ended up being a laborious process, but it was worth it in the end.
This pest most commonly attacks grapes and vegetable family in the squash family. This includes squash, pumpkins, gourds, and cucumbers. My mother really struggles to control them on her grapes and has come to just having to bag her grapes as they grow to keep the damage to a minimum.
Out of all of the pests my garden gets, squash beetles are by far my least favorite. While Japanese beetles will eat the leaves of my plants and cause damage, their numbers are often few enough that my plants can survive and produce well despite their presence.
Such is not the case with squash beetles. Squash beetles can easily kill an entire garden if not enough is done to control their numbers. I do not use any synthetic pesticides so this often means I have to be super diligent about finding the adults living in my garden and squishing them before they have an opportunity to reproduce further.
I also have to pay close attention to the leaves of my plants to find any eggs that have been laid on the undersides. While squash beetles occasionally lay eggs on the tops of leaves, nearly all of the time they lay their eggs on the underside. In my experience, the only time I have seen them lay on the tops of leaves is when they have also laid eggs on the underside.
In addition to attacking squash plants, squash beetles attack all other members of the cucurbit family. This includes melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds. This is why it is important that if you are growing multiple members of the cucurbit family in your garden that you spread them out and plant non-members between your cucurbit plants. While this won’t guarantee that you will not have any issues with squash beetles, it can help decrease overall damage.
The adult squash beetles are shades of gray and brown and are about one inch in length. They closely resemble the appearance of a stink bug, however, when squished they smell sweet instead of a foul smell.
Because squash beetles reproduce so quickly and in such large numbers it is very important that you have a handle on their population before their peak laying season (beginning in mid to late July.) This can give you a bit of an edge over this very damaging pest.
The final pest that often plagues my garden is the vine borer. Vine borers are actually a type of moth that lays its eggs in the ground around cucurbit plants. Once these eggs hatch the larvae crawl up to the stems of plants and burrow up until they mature and exit as moths.
These pests are very harmful to plants, and while they only attack one plant at a time (unlike the two previous pests) they can very easily kill a plant without you ever knowing that they were present.
Thankfully, this year I have not had many problems with them. They have attacked my butternut squash, but the damage they have done has been very isolated and they have yet to kill a single plant of mine. Even the plant in the photos in this post is still alive and producing.
One of the very apparent signs that you have vine borers in your garden is that leaves on your plants appear wilted despite frequent and consistent watering. If you notice this, immediately check all stems on that plant. If you notice any yellow spots that look like they could be an entry point, carefully slit the stem open. I usually use my thumb nail because I have longer nails, but I recommend a pocket knife if you have one.
If you’re lucky and find the larvae, immediately kill it. Once you’ve done this, you can bury the opened stem under your soil or mulch. This will give the stem an opportunity to heal and continue to grow. I usually am not too concerned about the stems if they are a leaf stem, however if it is a main stem (especially one that is connected to any growing fruit) I highly recommend burying the stem or wrapping gently in plastic wrap until the stem heals.
Like I mentioned, vine borers are often an isolated problem. This doesn’t mean, though, that they are not problem that should be taken seriously. They can kill plants and greatly reduce your garden’s yield. Especially if you are growing winter squash which require the plant to fully mature and then die back to allow the fruit to develop their hard skin which makes them capable of long term storage.
Thank you so much for checking out my blog! Whether you stick around for a day, a month, or a year I appreciate it. -Kate