07 May 2012

Harmful and Helpful bugs in the veg garden

These little black and orange bugs have been trying to devastate my Red Russian Kale, broccoli and other cole or brassica plants.
"Both the adult and nymph suck sap from the collard/cabbage plant, causing it to wilt, turn brown and die." Clemson U.

I hand pick them off the plants though I've heard sprinkling flour on the plants help as much as poison. As you can see the broccoli heads are right there and I don't want to poison my food.

The Red Russian Kale is still in the garden because I want it to flower and go to seed - want the seeds for the fall garden, you know.
Harlequin bug Murgantia histrionica
Also in the veg garden there are Lady Beetles, the most welcome of predators!
Lady Beetles making the next generation.
When I was growing up in Ohio in the 1950s, I would have made the Lightening Bug the state insect,
but now I find out that The Convergent Lady Beetle is the state's insect. Sigh.

"Lady beetles, or Ladybugs or coccinellids, are the most commonly known of all beneficial insects. In Europe these beetles are called "ladybirds." Both adults and larvae feed on many different soft-bodied insects with aphids being their main food source. Ohioans like lady beetles so much that the Convergent Lady Beetle became the official state insect in 1975." Ohio State U.


Common Name               Scientific Name
Convergent Lady beetle Hippodamia convergens Guerin
Fifteenspotted Lady beetle Anatis labiculata (Say)
Ninespotted Lady beetle Hippodamia sinuata Muls.
Spotted Lady beetle Coleomegilla maculata DeG.
Twicestabbed Lady beetle Chilocorus stigma Say
Twospotted Lady beetle Adalia bipunctata (L.)
Red Lady beetle Cycloneda munda (Say)
Sevenspotted Lady beetle Coccinella septempunctata (L.)

Here's a lovely article in Fine Gardening by Joe Queirolo about attracting beneficial insects to your garden.

Queirolo says, "We're living in a bug-eat-bug world. And I want to keep it that way. To do so, I've transformed my garden into an insectary, a habitat where my beneficial insect friends will feel at home. I provide them with food, water, and shelter. I keep the soil covered with organic matter. And I avoid putting any harmful chemicals into their habitat.

      The menu for beneficials changes constantly as the pest population shrinks and swells, and as different flowers come into bloom. Many of the predators and most of the parasites will use pollen and nectar for food. I try to sustain them throughout the year by growing a variety of flowers that bloom at different times. Since many of the beneficials are tiny or have short mouthparts, I offer them tiny flowers with short nectaries. Many plants in the carrot and aster families offer just that.
      "I water my garden with overhead sprinklers, so insects always have puddles and wet leaves to drink from. If I were using drip irrigation, I'd offer them water in a saucer filled with pebbles, so they don't drown.
     Just like the rest of us, beneficials need protection from heat and rain. They need to hide from birds and insects who would make a meal of them. Again, a variety of leafy plants offers protection. Ground beetles hide in low-growing ground covers and in mulch or leaf litter. Flying insects hide in shrubs, on the undersides of leaves, even among the petals of marigolds.
     Beneficials also need a reason to stay on when they've finished cleaning up the crops or at the end of the season when you've cleaned up the garden. Consider trying to recreate in a corner of the yard or on the edge of your garden the thick, wild diversity of a hedgerow by using a variety of early-flowering shrubs, perennials, and grasses to provide year-round shelter and a place for alternative prey to dwell. Keep this beneficial insect reservoir as close to your garden as you dare. If the insects get too comfortable in the hedgerow, they might not be inclined to travel very far for a meal. As long as there is a place for pests, the beneficials may stay to eat in your weedy refuge rather than head for the neighbor's yard."

Don't miss the rest of Queirolo's great advice on how to keep a healthy garden.

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