Garden insects

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM.

Very soon, all the time and effort you’ve put into your garden should begin to pay off in delicious fresh vegetables that is, if you can’t get to your crops before the insect do.  All the care you’ve given your vegetable garden up till now will be meaningless if insect are allowed to rob you of your harvest.  We’ll talk about the most common and bothersome bugs you may find on your vegetables.  We’ll offer some advice on their control.  My information on controlling garden insect was provided by Susan E. Webb, Associate Professor, Entomology and Nematology, Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, University of Florida.

The insects you need to worry about in the weeks ahead are divided into two broad categories, those which live and do their damage above ground and those which live in the soil and bother the roots and lower stem of vegetables.  The most common above ground pests include leaf miners, armyworms, spider mites, flea beetles aphids, whitefly leaf footed plant bug, bean leaf rollers and stinkbugs.  Cutworms, wireworms and mole crickets top the list of below ground villains.  Leaf miners seem to cause the greatest damage on tomato and cucumber plants.  They’re called leaf miners because they burrow in between the transparent membranes on the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves as they feed.  They eat the living plant tissue, leaving the membranes, which then look like tiny window panes.

The army worm - you’ll find in your garden are the same as those you’re probably all too familiar with in your lawn.  They feed on plant foliage and attack a variety of crops.

Spider mites - aren’t really insects.  In fact, as the name suggest, they’re actually more closely related to spiders.  They’re tine pests usually no more than a fiftieth of an inch long.  They gather on the undersides of plant leaves, and feed by piercing the leaves with their needle-like mouthparts and sucking out the plant juices.

Aphids – sometimes called plant lice also causes damage by piercing leaf tissue and sucking out the plant juices.  Flea beetles are chewing insects which cause damage by chewing small holes in vegetables leaves.

Bean leaf rollers – The bean leaf roller feeds on members of the bean family.  The adult, a skipper butterfly, deposits eggs on the lower leaf surface, either singly or in cluster of 2 to 6.  The caterpillar cut triangles or semicircles from the edges of the plant leaf and fold them over to make individual shelters, only at night to feed.

Flea beetle – are tiny (1/16 inch long) bronze, black or brown beetles which attack young tomato plants, peppers, egg plants and other garden plants.  They can jump rapidly for great distances when approached and they resemble large “fleas” in appearance and habit.

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