Pests in the Garden in Early June

Summer has just begun and it is proving to be a challenging season with some early insect damage already in both my perennial and vegetable gardens.

Four Striped Plant Bug on a pepper plant
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Nymph stage of the Four Striped Plant Bug,(I actually thought this was a potato beetle at first):

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This is my first encounter with this particular insect in my vegetable garden. It has done a surprising amount of damage already though most of the extension sites I have consulted say they generally do not pose much of a threat. I try not to get too frustrated and attempt to view these encounters as opportunities to learn. This is easier said than done since it is my basil that has sustained most of the damage and that first batch of pesto is at stake! My peppers also seem to be a target at the moment. Primarily the damage is due to the voracious appetite of this creature which results in the leaves being peppered with little bites. Interestingly, so far, the purple basil is unaffected.

Basil under attack:
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Damage on Helenium:
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Insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, and Neem Oil are said to be effective for organically controlling this pest. I am going to use Neem oil as my control. What I like about Neem Oil is that it is one of the only organic controls that is a systemic. The Neem is taken up by the plant tissue and the insect is effected by actually eating the plant tissue rather than you having to actually spray the insect. Neem oil can control a wide range of harmful insects as shown in the chart in this Fine Gardening article and has the added benefit of also controlling mildew and blackspot.

One does need to take into consideration that organic controls can also target our beneficial insects. Fortunately most of our buttterflies, lady bugs, preying mantis, etc. actually eat insects or nectar rather than the leaves so they may avoid being effected by Neem oil. I need to do more research into whether the beneficials can be effected by eating insects that have ingested Neem Oil but this link to Urban Garden Magazine suggests they are not.

If you are interested in trying Neem oil you can purchase a high quality product at Atacora Essentials Inc. Atacora is a community driven company in the West African country of Benin. A friend of mine founded this company that makes and distributes products that are grown sustainably and have health benefits for people and the environment. Altacora is a fair trade company with no middlemen that gives back to it’s community. If you are interested in learning more about this company visit their website at www.atacoraessential.com

Phlox Plant Bug
This is a picture of one on a helianthus:
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The common names of these two pests are remarkably simple and similar! It just so happens that they were hanging out together in one of my perennial gardens. I have never had to contend with the Phlox Plant Bug before this season either but it has done a real number on some of my favorite perennials like Phlox’Blue Paradise’, Helenium ‘Rubinzwerg’, and Helianthus.

The damage from the Phlox Plant Bug has a white or yellow stippled effect rather the defined black or brown spots made by the Four Lined Plant Bug:
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Phlox Plant Bugs are controlled using the same methods as for Four Lined Plant Bugs.

Click here for a helpful link to more information on these pests from Ohio State University.

Aphids have shown up as usual but those are easily controlled with plain dish soap mixed with water in a sprayer. Insecticidal soap is easier to use in your sprayer because it does not foam up but Dawn will work in a pinch.

I would love to hear about what you have to contend with in your gardens. Please feel free to comment below about your experiences. It is interesting to learn what insects are showing up in different areas and when.

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4 Responses to Pests in the Garden in Early June

  1. Get your neem here! http://www.atacoraessential.com Control garden pests while promoting social justice in African producer communities!

  2. I ignore them or I squish them but I don’t ever spray anything because of the chance of killing beneficial insects. I just accept that my plants will have a few holes in them.

    • Christi says:

      I wish I could have avoided spraying Casa Mariposa, but my plants were actually getting destroyed. The tops of my pepper plants were toppling over and losing their blooms and the basil literally didn’t have any leaf left to eat. I’m not willing to give up all that hard work!

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