Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Let's talk about insects, the good, the bad and the ugly. I read on several blogs about different pests and whether or not they are good or bad. I decided to find out...I turned to my trusty sidekick.... Or as I like to call it...The Southern Living Garden Bible. If you live in Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, & North Carolina and DO NOT own this book....stop reading this post and go buy it now! It will be the best investment you every make. It tells you everything you need to know about gardening.
Let's discuss pest management
The Good

Darla....this one is for you Skinks....Darla....let them live!!!!

Skinks eat crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, worms, snails, & slugs....need I say more? There little green cousins eat the same.

" Darla, please let me live. I will eat all your pesky insects"
Parasitic wasps
These wasps are sold at some garden centers. They lay they eggs on larvae, pupae or eggs of other insects, thus destroying them. They are not harmful to humans.
Tachnid Fly
As scary as it may look, they only feed on nectar or larvae of other insects such as armyworms, cutworms, stink bugs, beetles.
Syrphid Flies
Also known as hover flies or flower flies. They resemble bees, and eat aphids, other soft bodied insects, pollen and nectar.
Soldier Beetles
These beetles are about 3/4" long, and eat aphids and other soft bodied insects.
These include several species of microscopic worms. They're effective against 100's of pests that spend their lives in the ground, such as cucumber beetles, cut worms, fire ants, flea beetles, grubs, root weevils, and sod web worms. They do not harm earthworms.
The Lady Bug
They feed on aphids, mealybugs, and eggs of many insects. You can purchase them through mail order catalogs. It is better to keep them in a cage for a few days in your garden, and release them at night. This encourages them to stay in your garden....not sure why, but that's what the book says! Lacewings
This little critter is about an inch long. It is a flying insect with lacy, netted wings. They devour aphids, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, thrips, & whiteflies. They also feed on nectar, pollen and honey dew from garden plants. Larvae are commercially available.
Damsel bug
About 1/2" long, they have no wings. Feed on aphids, grasshoppers, small caterpillars
Ground Beetles
Most are shiny and black, about 1/2" to 1" long. They eat caterpillars, other insects, cutworms, soil-dwelling maggots, and grubs. Larger species eat slugs and snails.
Assassin Beetle
1/2"-3/4" long, have long legs and long angled antennae. Some are bright red/black, some are brown or gray. Pray on many insects by stabbing their victims with long, curved beak (Hey I am writing what the book says).
The Bad
Size: 1/8" long
Description: winged insects that fly up when you brush or touch a plant. It excretes as it feeds, attracting ants and creating sooty mold
Diet: Plant juices
Habitat: Warm, still air of greenhouses. Flourish year round in Coastal, tropical areas. Garden infestation occur when transplanting indoor plants outside.
Control: No matter what your climate check the under sides of bedding plants purchased from garden centers
Root Weevil
Description: Various
Diet: leaves, flowers, bark of rhododendron, yew, grape and other plants. The larvae consume the roots
Control: Beneficial nemetodes, Acephate can be used to control adults on non-edible plants.
Description: hairless larvae of night flying moths. Feed at night, over cast and humid days
Diet: eat young plants by cutting them off at the ground
Habitat: Garden beds
Control: Encircle new plants with a aluminum can, bottle, cup, etc., with both ends cut off, place around the plant, slightly pressing it into the ground. It should extend 1" to 2" both into the soil and above the ground. Encourage natural predators such as ground beetles, and nemetodes. Spread earthworms around young seedlings to deter cutworms.
Size: Almost microscopic
Description: Light dark brown, adults are less than 1/20 of an inch long
Diet: Flower, leaf tissue by sucking juices. Cause discoloration to leaves, fail to open normally.
Control: Natural enemies include lacewing, pirate bug, mites, spiders. Insecticidal soaps work and horticultural oils will help
Cucumber Beetle
Size: 1/4"
Description: yellowish orange with black stripes
Diet: Chew holes in leaves of cucumbers, melons, squash and other veggies
Habitat: Southern gardens
Control: Birds, tachnid flies, you can also handpick them and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.
Spittle bug
Description: look for foam formed on plants
Diet: Annuals, perennials, herbs (rosemary and strawberries are a favorite)
Control: Granular lawn insect control (Tempo), blasts foam with jets of water (this will knock bug off)
Roly poly or Pillbug
Size: about the size of a pea
Description: gray crustaceans, that will roll up when disturbed
Diet: decaying vegetation young seedlings, skins of melon, cucumbers and berries
Control: Limit and remove hiding places, such as, boards on the ground, weedy areas with decaying foliage. Lift ripening fruit off the ground. Slug bait is effective
Snails & Slugs
Well I don't think much needs to be said here but go buy some beer!!!! Put a small amount of beer in a shallow container (cat food cans work well), and put them out in your beds at night. They will die in droves.
Leaf miners
Description: larvae of certain moths, beetles and flies. Tunnel within foliage leaving trails on the surface
Diet: foliage, vegetables, fruit trees, annuals & perennials. May reduce yield of crop.
Control: Parasitic wasps are a natural enemy. Once inside the leaf, chemical control is difficult
Size: Pinhead size - match stick head
Description: Black, white, pink or pale green
Diet: Plant juice
Control: Natural enemies such as, Lady bug, lacewings, soldier beetles, syrphid flies, parasitic wasps, lizards, and small birds. Spray with insecticidal soaps.
Size: Large 1" +
Description: travel in troops
Diet: Everything in its path, mostly eating at night
Control: purchase Dipel for worms less than and inch long. For larger worms, spray areas with Sevin.
Diet: almost anything
Control: Easy to control in young/wingless stage by using earthworms, or a biological control such as Nosema locustae (sold as Grasshopper Attack).
Description: white, cottony appearance, slow moving
Diet: plant juices, causing stunting and can kill plant
Habitat: More likely to be on indoor plants, may be on outside plants
Control: Natural predators such as lacewings, syrphid flies, lady bug
Japanese Beetles (sorry I had a picture, but I lost it)
Description: Black, adults are shiny, metallic green/copper
Diet: chew plant roots, grass roots, devouring leaves on almost any plant
Control: for grubs in lawn apply Merit or beneficial nemetodes, or Sevin
How do ya'll control your pests????


TheWritersPorch said...

Great post DP! Lots of great info:! I'll get the book!

Darla said...

I know, I know...we really don't kill that many skinks, just the ones we can't keep off of the front porch and we have so many of them really. The lizards.....I would never kill a lizard our youngest plays with them. This is a very informative post.....I did chuckle when I saw my name with the skink!! You are fun...

tina said...

Yup, I have this book too and I have to agree-totally. My only complaint about it is that it does not have many wildflowers in it. I realized this when I took it nursery shopping with me and I could not find the flowers! Frustrating. Good pictures of the insects. I am fond of the skinks. I like them but I have to warn you-they do bite. Found out the hard way-more of a shock than pain though:)

Dirt Princess said...

Writer's Porch - If you live in the South and garden...this is a MUSTt have. I can not say enough about it. It will be the best $35 investment you make for you garden

Darle - Sorry the post was so long.....kill the aphids and save a skink ;)

Tina - I have a book on Alabama wildflowers, this helps me alot. Of course when you are like me and just dig things up on the sides of roads...there is no book for you!!! Maybe I should write one.....hmmmm

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Really interesting. We have most of the same insects here, unfortunately most of the bad, less of the good. I wish we had lizards here. And anything that would eat slugs would be great too!
We always called pill bugs "potato bugs".

mlc said...

LOL. I like that you put the good first. I don't remember--was there a toad? I used to work with all those bad--a few good. For flowers--I think the absolute worst is the Western flower thrips. I could fill an entire blog about how bad they are--but most gardeners eyes start glazing over.

HappyMouffetard said...

What a great post. I love the top skink - it's gorgeous. It's too cold for many reptiles in the UK.
Thanks for visiting my blog,
Yours inelegantly,

Daphne said...

Oh I would love to have skinks. We occasionally get toads in the garden and try to encourage them.

Melanie said...

Holy cow - what an informative post! I think I brought in some cut worms with the plants I bought :-( At least now I know how to control them.

Liz said...

Wow, such an informative post!

I now know what 'those weird bugs are on my Foxgloves' I actually thought they were bad, but it turns out they're Damsel bugs!!!
Not that I have actually ever done anything to try to get rid of them, I did find it strange as I've never seen nor heard of them before and turns out they're the gardener's friends.

Strange how everyone loves Ladybirds, Lacewings and Hoverflies but never seem to mention Damsel bugs??

Now I just need the on the Forget-me-nots and Violas' as they've been attached by aphids in this unseasonally warm/dry weather we've been having in the UK recently.

Liz said...

Wow, such an informative post!

I've now discovered what those 'strange' bugs are on my Foxgloves!

They're damsel bugs, and I actually thought they were bad! Not that I've tried to do anything to get rid of them, but it's strange how I've never heard of them before.
You always hear about Ladybirds, Lacewings and Hoverflies being good but never once have I heard of these.

Now I just need them on my Forget-me-nots and Violas!

Ginger said...

wow, what a thorough and helpful post! cutworms stripped the foliage off the top halfs of my tomato plants seemingly overnight last year. they are bad dudes! I made collars out of plastic cups and that kept them off the plants for the rest of the summer. Looked ugly but worked.

NatureStop said...

I really liked your post which was really informative but a few of the insects are really not our favorites:-)

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great book, DP... Glad you mentioned the BAD Japanese Beetles. They can destroy roses in a heartbeat!!!!!!Grrrrrr.....

I added you to my blog list--so will be checking on your often.

Becca's Dirt said...

That was a very informative post. Good info. I have this book also and it is so informative. I purchased mine at Amazon. I paid $1.99 for my book - used. Thanks Dirt Princess.

texasdaisey said...

What a great post! Came over to take a look at your sweet Kiki Kitty and found a great blog. Love the background and the posts. What great info. Keep up the good work!

Eve said...

Hello DP! You won't believe it but right before I moved to Alabama my friend bought me that book!!! This is such a great post, I have so much to learn about southern gardening. Things are getting eaten as I type!!! I left a flock of Guinea Fowl up north at my old house, I'm sure the gardens I left for the new owners are being well cared for by the Guineas. They are great for gardening. I think it's time to think about getting more. There are some right down the road and I've been offered keets but need to get unpacked and build a coop! A great book to get is "Gardening with Guineas" if you have the space for them. I'll be back. And that Kiki is quite a character!

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