More garden pests and how to defeat their destruction

Published 12:22 am Saturday, May 16, 2020

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By Sheri Bethard

Certified Texas Master Gardener, Orange County Master Gardeners

(Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series concerning garden pests.)

This week is part 2 of my 3-part series on garden pests. I have learned quite a bit while researching for this article. Interesting things you can do besides use harsh chemicals as I personally try to avoid if at all possible.

Leaf footed bug – Some call them stink bugs also, but that is another bug entirely. These are the ones getting on your tomatoes and peppers and leaving light colored marks all over them. In researching how to get rid of them, I found the best way is to start with the nymph before it gets into the adult stage. Do this by spreading a tarp, plastic, newspaper or something on the ground below the plants. Tap the plants with a stick or shake lightly to make them fall. Then dump them into a bucket of soapy water. Do this daily until they are gone. Or you could spray the nymphs with a ready to use insecticidal soap spraying the tops and bottoms of the leaves and stems. Repeat every 3-4 days until you don’t see any more nymphs. No not use if about 90 degrees. Be sure to remove debris from your yard in winter to remove leaf footed bug eggs than may be overwintering there.

Leaf Miners – Spinosad is a microorganism that occurs naturally in the soil. It can be purchased in a liquid form and sprayed on the leaves to control them. Repeat treatment every 4-7 days until life cycle is cut off. A home remedy is 2 cups of vegetable oil and ½ cup liquid soap, mix and pour in spray bottle, spray affected areas. Or Boil hot pepper flakes in water, mixing well. Allow to cool and apply to leaves. Strain before spraying.

Mealy bugs are found just about on any plant. When spraying, be sure to get down in the crevices of the plant to kill any eggs the female may have laid there as she likes to lay eggs in dark spaces. To get rid of mealy bugs you can dab with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, blast of water, spray Neem oil or Insecticidal soap. Here are a couple of sprays that work also. Mix – 1/2cups brewed black tea, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. dishwashing soap, 1 ½ cups of warm water in a hand-held sprayer and mist-spray infested plants thoroughly. Repeat the treatment, if needed, to make sure those bad boys bite the dust for good. Or, another option is mix 2 tbsp of corn oil and dishwashing liquid each in a gallon water in a bucket. Put in sprayer and apply thoroughly.

Root Nematodes – They are microscopic worms and signs you have problems with them are stunted or wilted leaves and shoots. When you dig up the plants you will notice tiny galls all over the roots. Stop them by mixing 1 can of beer and 1 cup of molasses and put in a hose end sprayer (20 gallon) and thoroughly soak the area. Another recipe is ½ cup sugar and 2 cups of water, boiling until sugar dissolved. Cool, add to 1-gallon water and put in hand-held sprayer. Spritz your plants to the point of run-off. The sugar water will attract bees and other pollinators to your plants while the run-off will kill the nematodes.

Slugs – are the slimy pains of our plants leaves, coming out at night and chomping away. Of course, just about everyone has heard of putting out beer for them, use the cheapest you can find in a very shallow dish. They will come oozing on in. For those too small to make the traps, scatter eggshells or used coffee grounds, sprinkle sand around or opt for plants that slugs don’t like such as rosemary, lavender, begonias, sage nasturtium or lantana around your veggies

Next week I will talk about Spider Mites, Squash Bugs, Squash vine borers and Stink Bugs

For horticulture questions, please contact us thru our website or our Facebook page Orange County Texas Master Gardeners.