Garden Friends and Foes

Garden Friends

Lady Beetle

Identification

ladybug

Because of our familiarity with them, lady beetles are awfully simple to identify in their red with black dots form. However, they can be red, orange, or yellow with black spots or without and can even be black in color. They generally have the same distinctive rounded, hard bodied shape with small black head. The lady beetle larvae and the eggs they hatch from aren’t so common though, so let me shed a little light on that so that you don’t unknowingly get rid of something beneficial!

Pictured above is a lady beetle larvae snacking on some aphids, a pest that we’ll be telling you all about in a future update. These pre-adult lady beetle larvae may not look like what we’re used to, but their appetite is just as ferocious, consuming their weight in aphids in a day, which could be up to 400!

Prevention + Treatment

The wonderful thing about the lady beetle is that when it comes to your garden, there is no treatment needed. These little guys will do no harm to your plants, fruit or anything you hold dearly, unless you have some kind of affinity toward aphids. When it comes to your house, however, you may find yourself with an issue on your hands come autumn since lady beetles, the Multicolored Asian Lady beetle especially, like to find a warm, cozy environment to winter over.

The first avenue to be taken is to plant gardens a fair distance from your house. It’s the aphids that attract the beetles and after a lengthy feast, when the time comes for the lady beetles to get cozy, the sun attracts them to that bright, warm exterior wall of yours, and they’re going to flock to it. Which is a second course of action: create some kind of deterrent from them being attracted to lighter colored walls. A screen with some taller growing plants such as arborvitae could do the trick, or you may want to decide to update with a new paint job. As these choices can be a little inefficient cost-wise, you could also use a home defense spray for insects.

None of these will be 100% effective, but they will certainly help. If you still can’t seem to keep them out, we advise that you call a professional pest control company for advice and treatment.

Braconid Wasp

Braconid Wasp

hornworm_braconid

Occasionally you’ll find a hornworm that is littered with small, ovular white eggs on it’s back. These are the eggs of the braconid wasp, which not only means that the host hornworm will soon meet it’s demise, but other hornworms in the area will be targeted and hunted down as well. This is the ultimate form of organic pest control because it’s simply the circle of life taking place.

Identification

The beautiful thing about the braconid wasp is that they don’t sting, which means that you don’t really need to identify the actual insect because there isn’t a bad thing about them. In the event you’re curious, they’re not too different in appearance than other wasps, usually dark bodied with four clear wings and generally reach no more than half an inch long. there are over 15,000 species, so it’s a little tough to identify unless you see one on top of a hornworm.

The other beautiful thing about braconid wasps is that they don’t just feed on hornworms. They go after aphids, caterpillars, squash bugs and stink bugs as well, so remember that if you see a hornworm with these eggs on it’s back, leave it alone. You’ll be happy you did.

Prevention + Treatment

None necessary! Leave them alone and not only enjoy the fruits of your labor, but the fruits protected by the braconids labor!

Aphid Midge
Praying Mantis
Damsel Bug
Ground Beetles
Toad
Snakes
Bats
Spiders

Garden Foes

Flea Beetle

Identification

You’ll know when you have flea beetle issues by the tiny holes riddling the foliage of the plant. Amongst those holes you’ll probably actually see the little guys, though they are more active at night. They can be black, brown, bronze or striped are are only 1/10 of an inch long. Flea beetles tend to munch on the foliage of potato, tomato, cole crops (cabbage family), corn, beans and beets and they especially love eggplant. They’ll jump just like fleas at any sign of disturbance.

Of the plants they prefer, Flea beetles feed both on the roots in early spring as larvae and the foliage til July or so as adults. They generally stick to newly planted seedlings but are sometimes known to go for more established plants. however, they cause less damage and stress to these adult plants.

Prevention + Treatment

The key with flea beetles is to take preventative measures. The first course of action is to plant mature seedlings. This will ensure that if you do end up with an infestation, the plants are strong enough to combat it.

If you are transplanting younger seedlings, we recommend treating the soil with beneficial nematodes or covering the area with row covers. This will keep the adult beetles from getting close enough to lay eggs and keep larvae out of your soil.

Since you should be rotating crops anyways to ensure proper growth of your plants, your newly planted eggplant should be in a different location than the previous years and there shouldn’t be any larvae able to come up from the ground.

If you’re too late and they’ve already set up shop on your plants, you’re getting into pesticide territory. When applying pesticides, always start with the most natural and organic means possible.

Tomato Hornworm

Hornworm

Chances are you’re going to see the damage these guys have done to your plants long before you notice what the problem is, as it camouflages really well since the color of it’s skin is the same color as the foliage on your plants. Because of this, it’s very easy to assume that it’s some kind of fungal or bacterial issue causing parts of your plant to fall off, but trust me, it isn’t. If you ever do see parts of the plant missing that didn’t turn yellow and brown first, search long and hard because you’ll find out what’s doing it and once you see it, you’ll be amazed at the size.

Identification

As previously mentioned, they are a very similar green to plant foliage. Once hatched, they start off fairly small, but they’ll grow in size very quickly to about 4 inches long and a half inch in diameter, and this is when they’ll do the real damage. The tomato and tobacco hornworms are very similar, but you’ll be able to differentiate by the amount of white stripes along the side of the body (8 tomato, 7 tobacco) and the style of the horn at it’s back end (tomato straight and black, tobacco curved and red).

A hornworm can easily wipe out an entire plant in one to two days, so while massive defoliation is typically the first indication that you have a hornworm problem, you may also notice their black droppings all over the ground beneath the plant.

Prevention + Treatment

Since hornworms are a fairly decent size and don’t usually infest like other insects, the easiest treatment is to hand pick them. Once you’ve pried their iron grip from your plants, you can either relocate them as they generally don’t find their way back, or you can drop them into soap water which will kill them fairly quick. If you’d like to take preventative measures to eliminate the issue before they even become worms, tilling in the fall will generally disrupt the overwintering pupae that are in the soil.

If you’re practicing no-till gardening or don’t mind using biological or chemical controls,  you can also use a bacterial insecticide such as Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki or Sevin, but be aware that the latter will also likely effect the beneficial insects in your garden as well.

Aphid

Aphid

Slug + Snail

Slug + Snail

Japanese Beetle

Japanese Beetle

Cabbage Moth

Cabbage Moth

Squash Bug

Squash Bug

Cutworm

Cutworm

Mammals

Proudly Serving Kentuckiana for Over 37 Years

Connect with us

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up and receive important information about current specials, events and news at Grant Line!

Location

New Albany

2223 Grant Line Road • New Albany, Indiana 47150
(812) 945-5676
Hours + Directions »