UACES Facebook Insects


March 2014

QuestionWe are planning our summer garden and always have problems with squash vine borers or beetles destroying our otherwise healthy, productive summer squash and zucchini plants.  Our only recourse seems to be replanting and hope they don't attack the new plants.  Is there a way to prevent them from attacking the plants in the first place? 

AnswerWhile some squash vine borers may be overwintering in your garden to come back and attack, the adults seem to find even new squash plantings. Two things you can do to help prevent injury. One monitor for the adults—they look somewhat like a wasp with orange bodies. You can try trapping them—they are attracted to the color yellow. You can buy traps or make your own using a shallow pan of water painted yellow—an old plastic yellow butter tub works well. They fly in and drown. When you see the adults you can use an insecticide at the soil line, but it needs replenishing when it gets washed off and you need to be careful not to hurt your pollinators. If you plant using transplants, you can wrap the stems lightly that go into the ground with aluminum foil to act as a barrier for the boring larvae or if grown from seed, once established, pull back the soil and lightly wrap the exposed trunk with foil. 

May 2012

QuestionWe plant corn in our garden every year, but the worms get it before we do. How can we keep the worms out of the ears of the corn? They just ruin all of our corn every year. 

AnswerCorn earworms are destructive to an ear of corn. When you see the silks beginning to form, that is when you need to take action. You can sprinkle a little Sevin dust on the silks every few days, or what I think is easier (and safer for our bees), is to put a drop or two of mineral oil right on the silk once a week until the silks turn brown. The oil acts as a physical barrier and keeps the worms out. Don’t get heavy handed and pour a bunch of oil in, or it can affect kernel set. Typically there is only one earworm per ear of corn, since these caterpillars are cannibalistic, and eat each other as well as the corn. Occasionally you will have two—one on each side—they just don’t know the other one is there!

May 2008

QuestionEach year I have tiny, black pests on the leaves of vegetables in my garden. They cause damage to my plants and are difficult and expensive to try to control. They are so tiny, they are almost invisible to the naked eye. You almost need a magnifying glass. I can only see them if I cut off some leaves and shake the leaves on a piece of white paper. Then I can see the tiny black dots move around. What are they and how do I control them?


AnswerThe most common insect in the garden is aphids. They can range in color from black, red, green or yellow. They are small and tend to congregate near new growth or in the joints of leaves. Flea beetles are also small, but tend to jump with vigor when disturbed. Spider mites are really tiny but tend to be reddish in color. If aphids are the culprit, they can be controlled with a strong spray of water, insecticidal soap or Malathion. Be sure to follow label directions as to timing and harvesting. For a definitive diagnosis of the insect, take some into your local county extension office.