Organic Bug Control- Squash Bugs, Cutworms, Hornworms, and Japanese Beetles.
It can be so discouraging to put in all your hard work in the garden, only to have your crop demolished by bugs! Below are a few of my main pests in the garden and ways to combat them organically.
I used to squish squash bugs eggs with my fingers but it was time consuming and gross. Then I saw an idea on the internet to use duck tape. It works wonders! The tricks to check the plants at least every other day.
Sometimes the eggs are in groups but lately I've been finding a lot of random ones on stems.
Here is my random eggs and I got one nymph.
Here is what is more commonly seen, the eggs together in a group.
And if you see an adult, get that sucker too!!
When I'm done I fold the tape over so they can't get off then throw them in the trash.
Next up is
A huge part of organic pest control is preventative. I try and peruse my garden at least once a day. One day I was looking around and saw this...
Its hard to see in this small picture but the stem was chewed off and fell over. I had cutworms in my garden last year and to prevent them I put plastic cups (bottom chopped off) in the ground an inch or two around each plant. It worked. Obviously, I didn’t do that with the beans this year, so it was imperative to find the culprit. If you don’t, cutworms will bounce from plant to plant killing one at a time.
Do you see the cutworm? They can be hard to find. It wasn't sitting out like that. I dug around the base of the stem and found it. Then you have to squish it, or feed it to your chickens (mine weren't interested unfortunately).
Above is hornworm damage on a tomato plant.
Hornworms usually hang around on tomatoes but one year when they were really bad they got on my peppers too. Thankfully I haven't had too many problems this year.
You can catch hornworms by looking around where they have eaten leaves and left droppings. They camouflage really well! They love the tender new growth and are easiest to catch at dawn or dusk when the sun is not beating on the plant because they will travel to the top (usually). I had already killed my hornworm when I took this picture but I have a picture from a year prior below.
This year the Japanese beetles have been really bad here! Thankfully not bad enough to kill any thing though.
My main concern is the damage on my blackberry plants because they fruit on second year canes and my first year canes are getting slaughtered by these guys.
When I see a lot, I grab a bucket of water, add some dish soap and flick them in the bucket with my finger. I also will hold the bucket under them and tap the stem or leaf hard so they fall in. It seems to work keep them under control.
I also have been letting my chickens roam the backyard more to eat as many bugs as possible. But I DON'T let chickens in my garden when I have things they like to eat in there. That lesson was learned the hard way :)
More Tips from many years of Organic Gardening:
Grow flowers that attract beneficial bugs. Not all bugs are detrimental to the garden. It’s important to know the difference between the good bugs and bad bugs. Hit your local library and educate yourself. I also love this book, I have it in my book collection. It is so nice to have a reference book on hand!
2. Cultivate healthy plants. Insects are attracted to sick and struggling plants. If your plants are diseased bad bugs will be more likely to attack. Focus on prevention and feed and care for your soil.
3. Don’t spray pesticides! I cannot stress this enough. Most pesticides you see in the store are broad spectrum and will kill all bugs, both bad and beneficial. Then the first bug to reintroduce itself is usually the ones you don’t want and they can go crazy because there are no beneficial insects to keep them in check. I’m a firm believer that nature will balance herself out. If the pest problem doesn’t go away this year, then it probably will be less of an issue the next year. Also, with a little help like handpicking bugs you can get a head start.
Organic bug control can be a little more work but it is so worth it. If you are working hard on your garden you can enjoy all the healthy benefits.
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