The title “Vegetable Garden Bugs On The Attack” sounds like the name of a science fiction thriller movie! Fortunately for us the bugs aren’t giant sized, man-eating critters. But they can be a formidable foe when it comes to controlling their voracious appetite. You can go to bed one night feeling really good about the condition of your garden, just to get up the next morning to see holes in the leaves everywhere.
You need to narrow down what is happening to your plants and if you see any signs of the bugs still being on the plant. There is no need to spend money haphazardly just because you think you know what might be going on. Check to see if it is a chewing bug or not. Also, make sure it is not a fungus that is attacking your plant because that is a whole ‘nother story. If you have any doubts, it is best to take a sample to your County Extension Agent to receive a definitive answer to the problem.
Let’s focus on 3 of the chewing bugs:
- Tomato Hornworm caterpillar-this is a magnificent looking caterpillar and a little scary if you get to see a really big one. They are often difficult to find because their color blends in or camouflages with tomato foliage background. These vegetable garden bugs love to eat on tomato plants; a few holes may not be that big of a deal to you so you may want to just let them become the birds dinner. If there gets to be too many holes in the leaves and stems go missing, it is time to take action. The plants most affected are: Eggplant; Peppers; Potatoes; and Tomatoes. Apply BT-Bacillus Thuriengensis (Thuricide) to the plant on both the upper and lower parts of the leaves. The caterpillar will die a couple of days after ingesting the BT. Thuricide controls not only the tomato hornworm but also gypsy moths, tent caterpillar, cabbage looper, & imported cabbage worm. I always find it helpful if I can purchase a product to do many tasks.
- Imported Cabbage Worm-(also know as Cabbage Worm & European Cabbage Worm) This is a sluggish, velvety green worm. If you see jagged holes and signs of green excrement on the leaves then you know you have the imported cabbage worm. The mom butterfly flies around and lays her eggs on the leaves and in about a week you have some hungry babies going to town on your plants leaves. These vegetable garden bug worms plan is to eat on the undersides of the vegetable when it is young and when the plant gets bigger they eat on the outer leaves and bore their way to the center. These worms will eat on the entire cabbage family but prefer cabbage and cauliflower. They frequently damage turnips, kale, collards, radishes, and mustard. Ahhh, if you have the BT Thuricide, you can take care of the imported cabbage worm.
- Cabbage Looper-let’s start this one off with all the vulnerable crops it attacks: Lima beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, parsley. The cabbage looper is green with stripes along its back and sides and travels in a looping motion. Look for small to large ragged holes (sounds like another worm!). As the season goes on, this vegetable garden bug will bore into the head of the vegetable. The mother moth can have several broods per year so you have to be diligent in watching over your susceptible vegetables. Here again BT Thuricide will eradicate your problem.
When fighting all types of bugs, it is important to make sure you don’t have weak or stressed plants that will then become the target for the bugs. You can create a bird habitat that will draw songbirds to your garden to eat those pesky insects that do take advantage of your good nature & mother nature! Lastly, take care of the ground in which you plant your vegetables. Add some good organic material to the soil, be sure and clean up any diseased plants and remember to rotate your crops.
If in doubt of what your soil might need, take a soil sample to your County Extension Agent so they can tell you what ratio of amendments you will need. But remember, whether you are seeing holes from vegetable garden bugs in the leaves or not, get Thuricide today and be prepared!