Thursday, July 01, 2010

New "friends"

Recently I started seeing little green "bubbles" on my tomato leaves. One maybe two per plant. Interesting color and shape and a satisfactory snapping noise when you pop them. They look like this:
And they will become this:
At which time they will do this:
SOOOOO....I spent 2 hours today going through my tomatoes leaf by leaf and plant by plant gently removing the little tomato hornworm eggs from the leaves and dropping them fiendishly into a Ball jar half filled with soapy water. Then giggling.

When I was done I proceeded to crawl around the rest our back 40 for oh ...3 more hours. The patrol was pretty damn successful.

In the process I managed to catch 3 pairs of these guys:
Doing the striped cucumber beetle salsa:
Which is something like a 30x bonus multiplier in terms of pest removal. I also caught umpteen hundred lonely striped cucumber beetles and more than my fair share of *#&#@# oriental beetles (See last post for image). Most garden web sites say that they aren't found in gardens and that they do little damage. BULL. They are as ubiquitous as the cucumber beetles and as frisky. They are as frequently found nibbling the outer edges of my cucurbits as digging around the roots looking for a place to lay eggs. Their cute little three pronged antennae fan out nicely in the water.

I also got one of these:
Thank God it was only one because a little part of me curls up and dies every time I see a Japanese Beetle. I must have had a bad experience as a child or something because Asiatic and Oriental beetles are the same size and shape and...consistency but they don't bother me all that much. I don't want to remember.

While we are talking about unpleasant bugs, I extricated a huge squash bug from a pumpkin plant (after which I smelled like slow death):
Who knew squash bugs looked like this when they were small?
I found squash buggies in excess sucking on the bottom side of my tomato leaves. They are way easier to squish than to pop into a jar when they are that size. Almost exactly like these guys:
We have more ants than blades of grass in the back yard but thankfully they haven't found the aphids yet. If they do they will start to guard them from predators and move their eggs around. Ants herd aphids like cattle which is wicked long as it isn't on one of MY plants.

Also on my kill list are two of these:
These have the awful extra crunchy exoskeleton of a Japanese beetle, the ability to cover you in an unholy stink like a stink bug AND they can pinch you when they back that thing up. If that isn't enough, they have teleportation powers that allow them to appear at random out of thin air. The Earwig is the officially insect of Hell.

A few garden sites claim that these buggers don't really harm plants. I put this in the same box as oriental beetles because I found them wrapped up in a wilted squash leaf that had been reduced to lace. They die in a rather impressively violent way when they hit the soap.

All told I only found two helpful insects and one of them got flipped into the soap when I grabbed a striped cucumber beetle.
Young two spotted stink bugs are beautiful, soap bath or no. Hopefully I see more of these. I promise to be more careful. They are fond of piercing caterpillars and sucking out their juices like a Capri Sun. I am going to need an army of them if I missed a tomato hornworm egg. Heaven help me.

I found a 14 spotted lady bird beetle that I managed NOT to kill. I will take more of those any day. Go ye forth and munch my aphids buddy.

We also had a robin camping out and chomping down while I was weeding my herb garden. I think cucumber beetles are like bird skittles and I am ok with that.

Someday maybe I will put up my own pictures. As before none of these are mine.


1 comment:

angela said...

Love your article! You managed to make it both interesting and funny :)