Wednesday, May 30, 2012 By: David Velten

Update on Garden Pests - 30 May 2012

It’s the end of May and according to the UMass Extension Vegetable Program, we are facing Armageddon as a huge swarm of insects start to emerge early because of the warm Spring that we had. Already doing their work in the Bolton Community Garden are cabbage caterpillars, flea beetles and a new, surprise pest, the Tortoise Beetle!

You should be aware that flea beetles are back now in large numbers and are attacking eggplants (their favorite), mustard family plants (mustard, radish, turnip, etc.) and any other plants if they feel like it. For info on flea beetles, see this post. Eggplants should be checked now or you risk having your plants stunted or killed.

Cabbage caterpillars are the larvae of the cabbage moth, the white “butterflies” you will see fluttering around the garden. I have seen only a few moths so far , but I found a caterpillar chewing up a Brussels spout that was under the floating row cover. They are not bad yet but be aware they are here. Check your cabbage-family plants or risk losing them.

Finally, a new pest, as if we need another! While squishing flea beetles on my new eggplant transplants, I noticed a spot that looked a little like bird poo. I made a mental note to check it out and went off to talk to Pequita and warn her of the arrival of the flea beetles. We found flea beetles all over her potatoes. While squishing beetles (successful technique is to quickly pick the beetle off the leaf and then roll it between your fingertips until it disintegrates) and enjoying this sport, Pequita noticed several weird things on the potato leaves. She picked one off the leaf and flipped it over. It had little legs and after squirming for a few seconds, it flipped itself back on its feet!

What we were looking at turns out to be the Mottled Tortoise Beetle. I didn’t take a camera to the garden so unfortunately I don’t have a picture to post  See this link for a good picture. These beetles overwinter as adults. They feed on weeds until sweet potatoes emerge, then feed on those. In our garden we found them on potatoes and eggplant. They also like morning glories. These beetles and their larva (spiny green blobs) eat holes in plants. They are not considered a serious threat but I plan to see if they like the garlic and chili pepper enema I’m about to give the flea beetles.

UPDATE June 8, 2012: Here’s a photo of the mottled tortoise beetle found on a potato plant in plot 8.



Post a Comment