Dealing with sticky situations
We work so hard to nurture and develop our gardens and keep them healthy and water them and supply them with fertilizers. We tend to all of the little details that help the vegetables and plants grow big and strong. But no matter how attentive we are, there are always those little pests that get in the way of progress. Suddenly there are holes in the leaves or other damage that we never even considered. The plants start to deteriorate right before our eyes.
What to look for
If you see a line of ants headed for your garden it is time to be concerned. They aren’t looking for any cake crumbs or food that you may have left on the ground, but they may be looking for some more little friends that are feasting on your plants. These little devils are working with aphids, which are insects that suck the sap out of outdoor and indoor plants. They happen to secrete a delicious substance that the ants love called honeydew.
The ants milk the aphids by stroking their abdomens in order to get this sticky sweet resin. Ants actually have a special arrangement with these little insects, believe it or not. In exchange for the honeydew and protection from ladybugs and lacewings, the ants herd and protect the aphids from a fungal outbreak.
Another pesky little critter that will do major damage to your plants is the armyworm. Those beautiful little butterflies and moths that dance around your head and land sweetly on your lovely bloomed plants will eventually lay eggs. Those eggs will produce little hungry worms that will devour the leaves of everything in sight. The larva varies in color from tan to dark green. Look for have stripes that are white, orange, or black, with heads that are red or yellow. They even change color as they mature so picking them out of a lineup would be a bit challenging. The larvae usually feed at night so they won’t be detected in daylight. You would need to stalk them with a flashlight at night. When you find them, pick them off your plants as soon as possible. These bugs love to eat beans, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, wheat, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers, peas, and radish. They’ll eat pretty much everything they can get their grubby mouths on.
Watch the Fruit
Have you ever had a nice apple tree or some other fruit tree and you noticed that there were holes in each of your pretty little fruit? Well, you may have sap beetles. They will bore a hole in ripe or damaged fruit and lay their little larva eggs inside. Also known as picnic beetle, are brown or black with an oval or oblong shape. They hide in winter and come out in warmer climates and will also destroy your tomatoes and corn.
These are all common bugs that will harm your plans, and there are good nontoxic ways to get rid of them, so don’t worry. Do your research and get back to tending your beautiful garden.