On the first morning that I started pruning leaves in the pumpkin patch, it looked like a veritable bug hotel. All sorts of cute, ugly and curious critters started appearing as I disturbed their resting spots atop or below the generous green leaves. Most were on the pumpkin leaves, while a few were on the bean leaves next door. Here are a few of their mug shots. Do you know which one was least likely to be eating my plants?
The single act of pruning, along with destroying the squash bugs and spraying a bit of diluted neem oil, seemed to do the most to break up the bug hotel. I’ll check regularly for eggs on the undersides of the leaves just to be sure. The insect that seemed least likely to be eating the plants was the mosquito imposter called a crane fly that does not eat anything as an adult. It’s what I appear to have captured on the bottom left of the photo montage.
Agricultural Program Director Anne Hillson at Sow True Seed said I should be very certain about which pests I’m dealing with before seeking an organic remedy. She mentioned that insecticidal soap can often help with pest control. Identifying pests is important, she noted, because it’s best to avoid broad spectrum treatments and treat pests very specifically with the safest product or method possible.
Hillson recommends the book Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Crenshaw for proper insect identification. Here are some free online resources for naming what bugs you in the garden. Remember that many insects, such as aphid-munching ladybugs and pollinating bees, are considered beneficials.