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Boy, was I naive!!

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Boy, was I naive!!

Post  AliSmith13 on 6/20/2010, 10:53 am

So this is my very first year of gardening and I have to say that I was NOT at all prepared for the number of bugs I would have in my garden and how difficult it would be to ID them and figure out if they are the good guys or the bad guys...

I live in a suburban area that is full of subdivisions and it's just a small .16 acre plot, completely fenced in, no trees or ANY kind of landscaping in the back yet (except for the new garden we planted this spring). Once you get beyond the subdivisions it's all commercial buildings. I guess I just didn't think the bugs would find me very easily...

Boy was I WRONG! I have had a major aphid infestation on my peppers and lettuce (which I guess this entire area has had, according to my local nursery), a lot of ants, a few teeny, tiny green caterpillars, a ton of little black bugs with clear wings that won't leave my beans alone, and a bunch of other strange looking bugs that I have no idea whether or not I should squish them...

UGH...it's just SOOOO overwhelming and I really wasn't prepared for it. I feel like I just can't win! I wish I had some great super power to know the difference between the good vs. evil bugs....*sigh*

AliSmith13

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  camprn on 6/20/2010, 11:22 am

It does seem overwhelming, I know! :cry: There are many, many more insects in the world that we simply do not take notice of until suddenly our attention is drawn to them. Did you know that beetles make up a 5th of the life currently present on this Earth. Amazing!
In any case, anxiety is no fun. Here's an idea, get a notebook and at the top of a page write a vegetable that you are growing in your garden. Use your reference books or the internet and search out information about that veggie, note the soil, nutritional and watering requirements. Also take note of it's pests and their life cycles and how you can disrupt that. If you know which critter means your specific plants harm you can be on the look out for them or signs that they have visited your garden. Not every wee hole in the spinach or cabbage is going to kill the plant, it just means you must take specific action for that insect that is enjoying the vegetables too.
You can also make note of what, if any, insects are beneficial because they prey on the bad bugs. There are a lot of beneficial insects in the garden. Perhaps you can buy some Ladybug beetles to release into the garden to get at the aphids. Trap plants are also something to consider.

Just this morning I noted and squished cucumber beetle, cabbage worms and lily leaf beetles Evil or Very Mad (the bastards!). I also noted a toad lurking amongst the beets looking for slugs and other such delicacies. What a good little toad!
I have said it before and I'll say it again, Gardening is part science, part craft. Studying study and noting what's happening in your own garden, as well as your new experiences WILL make you a good gardener and eventually you will gain confidence that you KNOW this and that and you can do something about it.

Best of luck and try to relax and enjoy the garden. Cheers!

camprn

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  AliSmith13 on 6/20/2010, 11:32 am

Thanks for the reply camprn and thanks for the advice. I will put it into practice right now and begin my research. Hm...is there any kind of book out there that is just about bugs you find in the vegetable garden? With pictures and all? That would be great....I guess I will go look and see.

Thanks again!

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  Chopper on 6/20/2010, 1:55 pm

There are zillions of books like that and there is always the internet! Think about getting some beneficials I got some ladybugs at HD one year and I have not had a problem with aphisds since. And I see ladybugs in the yard all year long.

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  Retired Member 1 on 6/20/2010, 8:05 pm

This has been a particularly hard year for garden pests in this area. I've had ones that I've never encountered before. A couple of internet site I use and find helpful are:
http://www.gardenguides.com/4083-common-garden-pests.html
http://www.planetnatural.com/site/garden-pests.html commercial site but has good photos
http://gardening.about.com/od/gardenproblems/ig/Insects-and-Diseases-of-Plants/

Beneficial insects:
http://www.gardenguides.com/835-beneficial-bugs-insects-garden-garden-pest-tip.html

Hope this helps.

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  plb on 6/21/2010, 4:41 am

I hear ya, Ali. First year for me too, and I'm amazed by the number of bugs and their resiliency and capability to get everywhere. Luckily I work from home and I can go out and do "pest patrols" often, and keep things under control, but I suspect that if I went on holiday I'd find little left!
Even the box that is tightly covered with insect netting has pests that managed to crawl inside anyway (I lost quite a bit of stuff to slugs), and as soon as I lift the net to water the plants or do any other gardening chore something nasty flies in! I have or had to fight slugs, snails, red mites, flea beetles, caterpillars, blackflies, aphids, leaf miners, you name it...

plb

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Going buggy

Post  ander217 on 6/21/2010, 8:33 am

Great replies, Camprn and Belfrybat.

One more thing to consider is that no two years are ever the same. I agree with Belfrybat that this has been a particularly bad pest year in many areas. I'm seeing pests this year I haven't seen for 30 years. (Where did they go during all that time, and why did they suddenly show up again?) Most likely a few of them were here all the time, but their numbers were kept in check by natural predators - conditions were right this year for a population explosion. Or perhaps our neighbor changing his farm operation from raising grain to growing bermuda hay made a difference. Who knows?

I think weather and climate conditions have a big effect on the pest populations, as well as conditions in our own garden areas - are there areas of plant debris nearby for the bugs to overwinter in? How is the bird population? Are the neighbors doing something different in their lawns and gardens this year?

Do what you can to control the situation - for example handpick bugs, larvae, and eggs, plant less susceptible varieties once you know what inhabits your area, encourage beneficial predators, etc. Then, as Camprn said, relax and enjoy what the bugs have left for you. (Except for squash bugs who seem determined to quickly kill the very plants which feed them. Doesn't make sense to me.)

Ever vigilant!

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  junequilt on 6/21/2010, 1:35 pm

You can also put in a pond or water garden. No matter how small, it will attract an extraordinary number of beneficial insects to your yard, and they will help keep the pest population down. Just remember to put BT israelensis in it for mosquito control.

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  AliSmith13 on 6/21/2010, 9:02 pm

All such great info! Thanks guys and gals. I do have a couple of pictures I was finally able to shoot today so maybe it will help with some ID'ing. All of these little guys are on my green beans. The little black bugs (4th photo) are EVERYWHERE and there are about a gazillion of them...







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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  Megan on 6/21/2010, 10:15 pm

2nd up from the bottom looks like a sweat bee to me... and the bottom one looks like something I used to call a leafhopper as a kid. That being said... I am not very good at ID'ing bugs.

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  kimbertangleknot on 6/21/2010, 11:24 pm

I admit I only read the first few posts and grazed a few other things, but I have found that this link has a good visual break down of common problems and how to fix them.

Gardener's Supply Pest Detective

It's a new thing this year for them, and I didn't completely read all of it, but I had to look at if for my Jap. Beetle Problem. Hope it helps you a little bit.

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  Chopper on 6/22/2010, 12:31 am

@kimbertangleknot wrote:I admit I only read the first few posts and grazed a few other things, but I have found that this link has a good visual break down of common problems and how to fix them.

Gardener's Supply Pest Detective

It's a new thing this year for them, and I didn't completely read all of it, but I had to look at if for my Jap. Beetle Problem. Hope it helps you a little bit.

That is a great site and a really user friendly system with clear pictures. Love it!

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

Post  plb on 6/22/2010, 10:31 am

I just came back from a quick check on the SFG, and while I was looking at a bell pepper plant a ladybird landed on it, found a large aphid I hadn't seen, immediately attacked it and proceeded to eat it. I tell ya, it was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a long time

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Re: Boy, was I naive!!

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