SOL FOOD FESTIVAL September 29th, 10am-6pm
In Santa Barbara Ca at Plaza de Vera Cruz 130 East Cota Street, Santa Barbara, that’s across the street from the Saturday Farmer’s Market! Join us for this great, local event geared towards growing & eating locally & sustainably grown food!
I’ll be talking on the Making Change Stage from 11 to 12 on What to Plant This Fall, and then Seed Saving! You’re invited! Bring family and friends!
1) One of our Master Gardeners wrote: In the midwest, where there are large infestations of Japanese beetles, the solution is a pan of soapy water which is held under the plant while you try to catch the pests; they drop down into the soapy water and can’t get out. Maybe that will work with the Bagrada bugs!
Thanks for the dropping bug technique! That would work well because if you disturb the plant they drop to the ground and run like hell! They disappear in seconds! It’s amazing to see – the ground is covered with them, then they are gone! If you held a large wide thin frying pan with a shallow bit of soapy water, under a section of the plant, it could be done section by section. That would reduce populations very quickly, given their propensity to drop right where you would want them! Yes, I do believe that would work terrifically!
2) A Trinity Gardener reports: I was at the [Farmers] market this morning and learned that John Givens has experienced an infestation of the Bagrada beetle that took out an entire bok choy crop. Since he is such a revered and long time organic farmer I decided to call him to learn how he chose to handle it. Long story short he uses a product that requires a commercial license and when I looked it up (it’s called Ensure and is made by Dow although it’s OMRI certified) its main ingredient is spinosad.
However, per San Diego Master Gardener, Vincent Lazaneo, UC Urban Horticulture Advisor, Emeritus, ‘…insecticides like Spinosad (an organic product) and carbaryl (Sevin) have a more persistent toxic residue which may harm honey bees and other beneficial insects.’ Read the article. Please consider your choices carefully.
3) Sep 28 This just in from Pacifica’s Organic Market Gardens founder and land manager Marshall Chrostowsky:
We small farmers have been badly affected this summer and early fall by the surprising infestation. I’ve been exchanging e-mails with some farmers whose fall-planting schedule has been thrown out the window. We tend to find growing many of the greens and cole crops easiest in the fall. Seedlings of all these tend to collapse and become stunted from feeding by the adults and younger instars. In the course of piercing and sucking out cell contents, these bugs seem to introduce a toxin or perhaps microorganism that stunts and deforms the plants.
More mature crops in the Kale, collard and other more rugged-leaved crops survive feeding pressure but Chard, beets, radishes tend to become badly damaged and flavors affected by the feeding pressure. When under attack, many plants put out phytochemicals to defend against further feeding. Other crops that I have that have feeding damage: some beans, Black Beauty eggplant, ornamental and weedy grasses (wheats are said to be a prime food source for the bugs.) The bug is also known to be attracted to plants in the landscape and may well overwinter in such habitats.
For controls, I have experimented with the following: frequent shallow cultivation (eggs are laid more in the soil than on the plants), shaking larger plants over buckets of soapy water, hand picking/killing, DE [diatomaceous earth] dust (works with very young bugs and maybe eggs), horticultural soap, Neem oil and BioNeem (alcohol-based), Spinosad (more a repellent). I may trial Red-hot Wax with garlic and chili oils but am reluctant. Plant-derived oils (canola, clove, rosemary, mint, etc.) might serve as repellents and offer some control but crops plants could be damaged.
I let out one of my chickens in one untreated section but she was more interested in dust bathing and chowing down on every plant just in case one kind was better than another.
4) Speaking of birds, from Ron at Rincon Vitova insectary in Ventura. Mardena also recommends attracting “working birds” to the garden by putting out shallow water, preferably moving water. If you have a deep fountain, put rocks in it so birds can find shallow water. He says: Natural predators and parasites will eventually bring this down to being a minor pest. [Very soon, I hope.]
5) Excerpted and adapted from Trinity Garden Manager Rose Keppler Moradian:
SOAPY CLAY WATER
- Clean out all you old Brassica plants, weeds, ground cover [and mulch]
- Soak areas with SOAPY water
- Shoot any bugs down with SOAPY water, squish ‘em
- Mix SOAP and POWDERED CLAY (Kaolin clay sold by brand name”Surround” from Garden Alive, or just use powdered clay). Both soapy water and CLAY kills them! **Clay covers the plant with a white residue: LEAVE IT ON. It acts as a barrier and does not affect the plant’s ability to live. When the bugs get the clay on them it smothers them. Joe Palumbo, the foremost expert on them, agrees with me.
’til you’ve treated cleaned up areas for two weeks, with daily soapy clayey waterings.
An excellent variety of Kale I’ve been growing is “Fizz.” It’s very tough, with a naturally occurring gray/white coating on the leaves, which led me to conclude that the coating has something to do with the natural protection it had against the Bagrada. This coating also makes it more drought tolerant, as most gray or “glaucous” plants are prone to be.
6) So far, personally, I have daily handpicked and squished, and still lost several plants, the damage is quickly done. Per last month’s suggestion to interplant with smelly plants, I have divided patches of bunch onions and society garlic and installed them between my Brassicas. I’m not sure that’s working, but I’ve planted a patch of garlic chives to put among further rounds of Brassicas. Gardeners’ nightmare. Early discovery, and immediate and PERSISTENT action, will pay in this matter if you have a small garden. Again and again, I see it written to combine your techniques. Please refer back to Bagrada Bugs & Winter Veggies solutions as well. They are at the bottom of the post. And, again, if you are in a community garden, please tell other gardeners about this pest and ask them to keep watch also, especially newcomers and beginner gardeners. If they aren’t on our newsletter list yet, I would be grateful if you give them my info. Cerena@ItsAstroLogical.com
Please, please, please, check incoming transplants at purchase, and again before you bring them into the garden. One small relief so far seems to be if a plant, like my broccoli and cauliflowers, reach a certain size, they seem to get beyond the Bagrada attack, they in the meantime killing the smaller plants. But we will see when all the smaller ones are gone…. Probably a good thing to remove any mulch hiding places too. I have found them mating in the straw.
For the latest info, please also see Independent article ‘Buggin’ Out!’ We are not alone. The subtitle is ‘Bagrada Bug Onslaught Has Growers Scrambling’
Good luck to you all! Please let us know your failures and successes. The Bagrada bugs are here to stay.