GardenSMART :: Protecting Late Season Veggies From Insect Pests
Protecting Late Season Veggies From Insect Pests
By Jolene Hansen for GardenTech Photographs courtesy of GardenTech
Late-season vegetable gardens can be visions of abundance, but sometimes vegetables aren't the only things in big supply. Many insect pests strike hardest right before harvest, when veggies are at their succulent peak. New generations of pests build through summer and put the pressure on in fall. Know what to expect from late-season pests, so you can meet their threat — and still enjoy your harvest on time.
Beneficial insects, such as lady beetles and lacewings, can help manage aphids, but populations can soar in late summer, when conditions are right. These small, pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects pierce plant parts and suck out the fluids inside, creating honeydew and causing sooty mold in the process. Aphids give birth to live, hungry young. These newborns can reproduce seven to 10 days after birth.1 Aphid damage peaks as temperatures cool. By fall, their staggering numbers can impact every vegetable in your garden.
These leaf-feeding caterpillars relish chewing on leaves of plants such as cabbage, kale and bok choy, but they don't limit themselves to cole crops. They're equal opportunity destroyers, attacking tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes, too. From white- to pale-green with whitish stripes, cabbage loopers arch like inchworms as they eat their way through your vegetables. They leave ragged holes in leaves and bore into cabbage heads. With several generations per season, looper populations peak in fall.2 In moderate climates, reproduction continues year-round.
Colorado Potato Beetle
Potatoes and related crops, such as tomatoes and eggplants, bear the brunt of damage from the Colorado potato beetle, a serious pest to fall vegetable gardens. Red larvae with black spots and black-striped yellow adults defoliate plants and keep potato tubers from growing. Female beetles emerge from soil and lay up to 350 eggs.3 With multiple generations possible, late-season gardens face all stages of this pest at once, from eggs and larvae to voracious adults.
Corn Earworm (Aka Tomato Fruitworm)
The worm that wiggles its way into your sweet corn is the same pest that burrows into homegrown tomatoes. Corn earworm and tomato fruitworm are two common names inspired by this single pest's favorite targets. Known by its alternating stripes of dark and light tan, this pest builds over summer months as new generations come every 28 to 35 days.4 Late-season corn crops and the year's final bounty of tomatoes are at risk.
Whether spotted or striped, cucumber beetles do heavy damage in the larval and adult stages, attacking melons, cucumbers, eggplants, beans and other crops. These pests overwinter in weedy areas, then lay their eggs in soil near plants. Hatching larvae feed on garden crops' roots for up to six weeks. As larvae mature, adult beetles inflict damage above ground, and produce several generations through each growing season.5 Cucumber beetles harm roots, stems, leaves, flowers and skins. They also spread bacterial and viral plant disease. Weed cleanup helps prevent future problems.
Wilted veggies and partially or completely cut stems are the cutworm's calling cards. Late-season seedlings and transplants meant for fall harvests are especially vulnerable. These elusive pests spend their days in soil and come out at night and on cloudy days. Cabbage, carrots, lettuces and peppers are just a few of the plants they harm. One adult can lay hundreds of eggs per season. In northern climates, two generations per year is normal, but in southern gardens, six generations are possible.6 Cutworms overwinter as larvae in the soil, so tilling your garden in fall and spring helps reduce carryover.
Gardeners and homeowners dread the arrival of this pest's odorous autumn onslaught. Numerous species trouble late-season crops, from cabbage, tomatoes and peas to beans and okra. Young bugs change appearance repeatedly as they go through several stages before maturing to brown or green. Regardless of color, they share the same shield-like shape and offensive odor. Stinkbugs hang out in weedy garden perimeters, so good garden sanitation is key to control. These pests can have several generations, and are known to invade homes come winter.7
When late-season pests threaten to steal your harvest, put an end to their plans with help from GardenTech® Worry Free® Brand insecticides and miticides. Control late-season vegetable pests, enjoy your sun-ripened vegetables right on schedule, and rest easy knowing your garden's naturally protected.
Always read the product label and follow the instructions carefully.
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