Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bugs. Yuck.

I really don't care for bugs. I know that some of them are beneficial for the garden, and I do try to leave those to do their special garden tasks, but what I find super creepy are the bugs that eat my food. [I caught one mid-bite--take a look at the picture at left.]

Our weather here in Central Illinois has been crazy--warm and sunny one day, then cold, dreary and rainy for a couple of days, then cold and cloudy, then rainy, and so on. I haven't had two straight days of dry in order to be able to get into the garden until today, only to find that my soup beans are being terrorized--shredded, in fact--by the Mexican bean beetle. These horrible herbivores leave bean leaves in tatters and lay their eggs on the underside of bean leaves. They look remarkably like copper-colored ladybugs, but do far more damage. Now that they have nearly devastated my soup beans, they are encroaching upon my green beans!

How do I kill the little buggers without using any pesticides, I wonder. My boyfriend, David, helped me do a bit of Internet research, and it looks like garlic is the best defense (other than simply squashing them). I'll try some garlic powder on the leaves and around the base of the plants tomorrow, but you can bet I'll be squashing the life out of as many as I can and scraping the eggs off the leaves.

I do find it interesting that they headed for the soup bean plants first, and wonder whether planting cilantro among the green beans (a la "companion planting") has kept the damage to the green beans to a minimum. would think that Mexican bean beetles would actually like cilantro, a pungent herb used in salsa!

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