Ahhh, summer! You’ve probably harvested several lbs. or meals of your favorite tomatoes, lettuces, beans, potatoes, and those lovely cole crops – broccoli, cabbage, radishes, chard! The garden even looks glorious basking in that August sun. But wait, there’s warfare going on in this idyllic scene. WAR, you say?
Oh yes, just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. The soil-bearing fungi are whetting their appetite to get those sugars from the leaves or roots and decompose the plant, but even more obvious are those critters you DON’T but CAN see … ONCE YOU TURN OVER THE LEAVES!
Yes, you’ve worked on the preparation, the maintenance, weeding, etc., but do not rest on your laurels as veg garden work is not complete till it reaches your mouth! And that is what many new gardeners neglect: touching the leaves, turning them over, trying to ID what critters are munching on THEIR dinner, and what they’re going to do about them.
So hear’s an example of Roy looking under the leaves of the Calypso bean plant. Hm, not snails. Probably a caterpillar. He looks for the culprit. Gets out a book (see below) for ID. Reads prognosis and treatment.
Moves on to the next plant. Broccoli. Ewww, found the critters. Caterpillar stage chewing up the leaves. A sole aphid in the corner. Roy’s thinking, maybe BT will take care of that, insecticidal soap for aphid or lacewing treatment.
To help you ID and do something about these garden pests, here’s a suggested list of references for the veggie garden:
- Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw
- Pests & Diseases: The Complete Guide to Preventing, Identifying, and Treating Plant Problems by DK American Horticultural Society
- Gardens Alive – One of better pest/disease references in their catalog.
- UCDavis Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program – Lists vegetables with common pests. Includes photos.
- Cornell University Integrated Pest Management Program – Photos and detailed descriptions of pests
- Texas A&M Integrated Pest Management Program – Excellent vegetable insect management information
And if all fails, just send us a tweet with photo on Twitter and we’ll try to help you ID your pest!
P.S. Roy’s solution to the cabbage caterpillars is smushing them and applying BT tonight before the infestation gets worse.