Keeping Garden Pests at Bay
By Gini Bramlett
Tomato Hornworm, cabbage worm and corn worm are hungry caterpillars that are all too common, and can do a lot of damage to tomatoes, peppers, corn, tomatoes and cabbage in the home garden.
Here’s what to look for; The hornworm is pale green with diagonal white stripes with black spots along the stripes, and can be as long as four inches. Adults are mottled gray moths with orange dots. These menaces prefer tomatoes, but will eat peppers, eggplant and potatoes too.
The corn earworm is about two inches long, and color can range from light green to pinkish brown to black with stripes running down its body. Adults are night flying yellowish tan moths. They prefer corn, but will eat peppers, tomatoes, beans, squash and sunflowers.
Cabbage worms are green and about 1 1/2 inches long with a light yellow stripe down its back. Adults are white with black markings. They will eat anything in the cole family including cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels Sprouts.
All three overwinter in the soil and lay eggs in spring, then emerge and devour veggies in just a couple weeks. The best control is to use floating row covers to keep adults from laying eggs in the soil to begin with. Insecticidal soap can control small larvae. Insecticides with pyrethrum or Neen is also recommended.
Natural enemies are wasps, green lacewings and soldier bugs. If you see a small white cacoon sticking out of a hornworm, its been parasitized by a wasp. So, encourage natural predators that can assist in your battle with the bad bugs.
To fight cornworms, apply a teaspoon of mineral oil to the tip of the ear of corn when silks first appear to deter egg laying. You can pinch the top of each ear with a rubber band to keep caterpillars out, too.
White flies and aphids can be common pests in the garden too. The best way to combat these is with Neem or insecticidal soap. White flies love kale and tend to come in clouds to descend upon their prey en masse. One day all is well, and the next there’s a serious infestation. We had one such infestation here a couple of years ago. A good drenching of insecticidal soap does the trick.
The Striped Cucumber beetle can also do a lot of damage to cucumbers, pumpkins, winter and summer squash and melons. To add insult to injury, they will leave a bacterial wilt in their wake. Fortunately, up to 25-50% of the plant can be affected by this wilt before production is affected allowing plenty of leeway to get it under control before your crop is lost.
The soution for keeping cucumber beetles at bay are varied; first and foremost is practicing clean and thorough cultivation at season’s end. Also, using good amounts of compost and mulch during growing season and cover crops in winter to discourage them from laying eggs in the ground. Diseased plant matter should always be burned.
Row covers are helpful too, but must be removed during flowering for pollunation. A farmer back east that I read about uses yellow sticky tape to trap them en masse. He just lays the tape along the rows affected.
To find out more, OSU Extension has online information on all aspects of gardening. Just log on to extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening.
Brownsville Thursday Market
The market is going strong with freshly harvested produce being introduced for the season each week. This week may be the last of the berries, so if you haven’t gotten enough to satisfy your fresh berry craving, now is the time to come visit the market. Other veggies in season are lettuce, beets, cucumbers, snow and sugar peas, zuchini and Brussells Sprouts with onions, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and more coming soon.
The market also offers local Brownsville honey, pastries, fresh salsa, locally-produced soaps, locally grown and homemade jams, locally grown grains and homemade pastas.
Market hours are Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. every week through October. For information about selling your locally-produced vegetables, fruit, handmade products or crafts at the market or to have us sell for you, contact market manager, Diane Remior at 541-359-5898.