Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bug Juice Anyone? (actually - HELP!)

Naaah, that's not real bug juice (if there's been any real bug juice around, I would've drunk it too fast to get a picture - wow was it hot!), just me practicing a little organic pest control. At least I think they are pests - can anyone confirm that?

Here's the story behind my summary judgement on those as-of-yet unidentified beetles:

My cucumbers grew very nicely this year - I think I had the first cuke of summer a couple of weeks ago, 4 or 5 more since then. This is one of a couple that are maturing now - small pickle size & coming along nicely.

But there aren't any smaller ones coming along after this because all the sudden all the flowers are dying!

I'd noticed a couple of these brightly-colored bugs a couple of weeks ago,

right around the same time I started to see the wilting flowers. I have no proof but it's hard not to see cause & effect - especially when the wilt's been getting worse as the bugs proliferate.

When there was one, it was a cool-looking bug. When there are as many as I picked off today (and the leaf bits have eggs, some of which were just hatching), they start looking sinister.

Can anyone tell me if my suspicions are correct? What the heck are they? Is this a cucumber pest, or some beneficial creature (I sure wouldn't pick off a swarm of ladybugs)? Nobody at the club, even experienced gardeners, knew, although they all agreed that it didn't look good, whatever they are, it was probably a good idea to call them "fish food" (I threw them in the Paerdegat).

7/21/08 update - a big Brooklyn shoutout & a warm mahalo (maybe not as good as a warm malasada, but almost) to Tillerwoman, who identified these guys as Harlequin Cabbage Bugs, aka HARLEQUIN BUGS (what a perfect name). My suspicions were not misplaced, these are definitely bad guys. It's good that I acted on the impulse to clear them out because although they're very pretty, they SUCK!

Specifically - they suck your plants' sap - if the plants are young, they die; grown plants (like my cukes) may not die, but fail to thrive.

The funny thing is that the cucumber is the one plant that doesn't seem to be included on the list of things they'll eat in the absence of cruciform veggies. Bugs don't read the internet, though. Maybe they don't know. I'm going to keep drowning them, though - if I try to reason with them & show them what the internet says about them, they'll just see the things they ARE supposed to like in the absence of cabbage & family include at least 4 things that I'm growing right next to the cukes - beets, turnips (just planted in place of a row of beets), beans (planted & growing where the sugarsnap peas had been) and tomatoes (ripening now).

Speaking of perfect names - Tillerwoman is the nom de blog of Tillerman's wife - by felicitous coincidence, the name is totally apropos - he is Tillerman as in a man who steers a boat using a tiller, she is Tillerwoman as in a woman who tills the earth. Thanks

happier gardening moments...

The first "crop" of beets continues to provide some beauties. I'm replanting where I pull the beets with more beets, and also some turnips.

And the tomatoes are coming! The first cherry tomatoes (volunteers from last year) are ripe; the full sized ones are coming along nicely.

Trip reports from the 3 trips to come, if I can find the time this week!

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