Thursday, 28 June 2012

Squashing bugs!

The other day as I was admiring our rapidly growing tomato garden, I was appalled by the site of a bunch of these horrid creatures munching away at a few of the tomato plants. (I'm referring to the orange slimy thing in the photo above, not this charming creature below!)

My bug pickers-just the right height to get these pests off of the tomatoes!

They were pretty repulsive looking and I had no idea what they were. I picked off all the ones that I could find, relieved that they were only on four plants out of the 60 or more tomato plants that we have growing, and dropped them in a jar of water. Then I sqashed them all, but kept one wrapped in plastic in a jar.

Our tomato garden is doing well...except for these repulsive orange intruders!

I went online and googled 'orange and black bug eating my tomatoes' and came up with all sorts of images of various orange and black bugs. Man, how many orange and black bugs are out there? It's a bit depressing...what one will show up next?!

Apparently these ones are the larvae of  Colorado Potato Beetles, and both the larvae and the adult beetles are voracious eaters of eggplant, pepper, potato and tomato. A little far from Colorado, aren't you guys? Let me help you pack your bags-it's time to head on back to the Rocky Mountains!

Chowing down on a tomato leaf in our garden
 The adult beetles stay in the soil over the winter and emerge when they catch a whiff of their favorite foods to eat. They then chomp away at the leaves, laying eggs underneath, and the nasty young larvae soon appear on the scene.
This is a good example of why it's important to rotate your garden, as the beetle won't find his ideal menu growing when he wakes up the next year in that spot. Because we're growing our tomatoes in a new garden, built up where our friends grew their garden last year, I'm sure we've discovered a spot where the beetle fed on something it enjoyed last year. We won't grow tomatoes in the same place next year so hopefully this will help to combat them in the future.

That's a big hole-this orange villain had to go!

Apparently a large number of them can really damage a plant, but if you act fast by removing them and their eggs by hand, there shouldn't be too much of a problem with larger infestations later in the season. The beetles or larvae should be destroyed, and then sprayed with neem oil. This natural insecticide made of oil from the Neem tree can also help to repel them. We spray neem oil on most of our plants to help repel insects, as it seems to work to a large extent and it's a natural alternative to chemical insecticides, which of course we won't be using.

Today I decided to vanquish all the larvae that I could find (haven't seen any adult beetles) by bringing in the reinforcements!

Who better to pick off these slimy creatures than my two boys, who were already equipped with their bug boxes, looking for something to examine. It doesn't hurt that these bug patrollers are the perfect height to find these creatures and pick them off!

Of course there was some fighting over who got the most larvae and whose turn it was to pick each new larva that was spotted.

That was nothing over the excitement that ensued when I told them that they were required to SQUASH all of those slimy orange larvae!

They're used to me telling them that insects are all beneficial in some way, and that we should NOT hurt them, so this squash fest was a blast for these boys!

 The messy aftermath. It had to happen-tomatoes win out over larvae in our world!


  1. Gross! I'm glad you discovered these before they did too much damage. We always put my little cousins on 'slug patrol' in our garden in the summers. They go slug hunting, then chuck them into the ocean, and they have a great time doing it.

    1. Fun! Our guys had a blast, which was great for me-they were busy, and I didn't have to smush those gross bugs!

  2. The boys need to come visit my garden in Atlanta for a whole new variety of smushable pests!

    1. That would be a fun fest for all (well, maybe not the bugs!) xox