Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Invasion 2010

Well it's about time my garden was invaded by unnamed and unknown beasties hell-bent on crushing my gardening bravado yet again. It started with a teeny-tiny tomato hornworm a few weeks ago, but I knew that meant it was time to whip out my BT and put the beat-down on them. It was my own fault for feeling so confident in my killing abilities.

Because not soon after I noticed that my will-never-be-edible-since-they-bolted-instantly-due-to-heat cauliflower and broccoli plants were holey as could be. I searched the plants and under a few of the leaves I found tiny green wormy bugs. Shudder. I hate that I have a bit of a bug phobia, but worms are the worst thanks to too many TLC specials about humans as parasitic hosts (Farmer B won't let me watch those shows anymore, which is irrelevant since I scream when I even see the previews). I decided to spray the BT again since these appeared caterpillar-like and BT is the caterpillar kill-all in my books.

Again, feeling like a cocky killing machine.

Then dammit if I didn't go out there and notice my Swiss Chard had turned to Swiss Cheese AGAIN! This happened before in the garden and last time the culprit was armyworms (or so my gardening blogger friends told me). This time I didn't see any worms, but I suppose they could have been hiding. I am not sure how to go about killing them, so each day I have more holes and less chard.

And let's not forget the red ants that killed my green peas, but that's in the past.

Then a couple of days ago I'm out in the garden with that older boy of mine and we're harvesting some green beans for dinner when he starts eyeing up my potato plants and asking me when we can eat the potatoes. I told him I think the leaves start to yellow or something when the potatoes are ready. He said "Well I hope we get to eat them before all these bugs do"

WHAT? And there on the leaves of my potato plants were all of these orange leggy insects just making themselves at home. I did what I always do when I encounter a new bug - get a big case of the willies, then run inside and open up my Organic Pest Control book and try to identify the bug. The best part about that experience is that the gross-out factor of turning page after page of wriggly vile bugs is off the charts and I have yet to identify one bug from the book. This is confounded by the fact that bugs mutate constantly - you have to look at the egg, larvae, juvenile and adult photos for each and every writhing multi-legged creature. And this time was no different - nothing in there looked like these bugs.

So I was left wondering - should I kill them? Are they good bugs? Are they evil bugs? How do I kill them? So I found a bottle of Garden Safe Fruit and Vegetable insect killer spray that I've had for a couple of years and never used and went running out to the garden with it. It says "kills instantly" on the label, so I figured I'd use it and hope these weren't good bugs. I sprayed every last one of them and nothing happened. They even looked angrier and stronger an hour or so later. So if they were good bugs, I did them no harm. If they were bad bugs, I'm screwed.

Apparently I am not prepared for the invasion. I'm taking a big, fat mental note of this.


Floridagirl said...

Those might have been Milkweed Assassin Bugs, which are beneficial, and I love to see in the garden. If they had skinny heads with a long snouts, they're assassin bugs. The bug looks different in each instar.

Jeff Vandiver said...

Those are assassin bugs, which are predators of other insects. It's questionable whether they are beneficial or not, because they aren't selective in which ones they kill. I happen to like them, because there's usually not many beneficial bugs in my garden - except for ladybugs.

Terri said...

The flattened back legs make me think leaf-footed stink bugs(bad bugs). Assassin bugs are not seen too close together because they eat each other.

Erin said...

Those are leaf-footed bugs, BAD! Many people mistake them for assassin bugs, I actually did a post about them last year and a way that works for me to get rid of them, although it involves having sunflowers nearby! Check out the link:
They will eat the potatoes then hop on over to the tomatoes and eggplant if you have any, then peppers! I also plant sacrificial eggplant since they seem to prefer it and it's easier to spray those small plants, but they have already been decimated! Mine show up in about June so it makes sense you are seeing them a bit earlier than me. Good luck in your battle, Kate!

Melissa said...

I killed a tomato hornworm last year in the messiest way possible after he ate the tomato plants that I had coddled all through our summer for a fall crop. I hate insects too, but the righteous indignation overcame that and he died a brutal death at the hands of the grill scraper.

Three Little Birds said...

I just found those exact same little green caterpillars on my broccoli and cauliflower plants. I guess I'll have to try that Bt stuff.

Good luck dealing with all of your pests!

Daphne Gould said...

Oh dear and it isn't even death day yet. I hope life gets better.

Melissa said...

Where do you buy BT? I've read that there are a few different brand names. I'm having trouble locating the stuff. I'm battling the hornworms again this year. But, I'm on to them now. Last year they decimated my tomatoes before I even knew I had them. Now I'm wise to their ravenous ways. It's quite satisfying to squash them under my shoe!

Seriously? said...

Welcome to my world of Little-Green-Worms! Those are laid by a butterfly called the small white. Look for and kill the butterflies. Also look for little green eggs on the backs of the leaves. From WIKIPEDIA: "The upperside is creamy white with black tips to the forewings. Females also have two black spots in the center of the forewings." My butterflies don't have the back tips but the black spots are very noticeable. My cabbage is decimated and will probably not produce. I'm trying to save my broccoli now. I'm going to try that BT you talk about. I've read about it before, but not tried it.

Best of luck!

Stefaneener said...

It's always some kind of war out there. I'm battling waves of nasty black aphids in the garden, and green aphids in the trees. Ugh. No screaming here, though.

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