Ready for the pests?

There are a variety of insects that are active now and could be in your garden. When you are inspecting your garden for pests, keep an eye out for these insects.

Flea beetles are very small, 1/16th – 1/8th inch long. They are usually dark colored, although some can have red or yellow on them. An easy way to identify flea beetles is that they can jump. Flea beetles attack a variety of vegetables, including beans, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, squash and radish.

Flea beetles chew shallow pits and small holes into leaves. This feeding can be particularly damaging to seedlings and cole crops.

Colorado potato beetles overwinter as adults and start to lay eggs in the spring. The adults are broadly oval in shape with yellowish to cream colored wing covers with 10 thin black stripes.

The larvae are pinkish with a humpbacked larva body. Both the adults and larvae feed on the leaves of not only potatoes but also eggplant, tomato, pepper and similar plants. Potato tubers can be adversely affected when defoliation is severe.

Also watch for fourlined plant bugs. They overwinter as eggs and emerge in the spring as small bright red immature insects (nymphs) with black wing pads. They eventually turn into yellow green insects with four black stripes. Fourlined plant bugs use their piercing – sucking mouthparts to feed on the foliage of a wide variety of plants including perennials.

Their feeding causes a series of small, dark, shallow pits on the leaves. Fortunately, this feeding normally does not kill the plant, although it can affect its appearance.

On the good side of things, butterflies are making their come back to our area. If you have the space, consider growing milkweed in your flower gardens for the caterpillars and for the butterflies too.

The milkweed plants, when they are flowering, smell great and are actually quite pretty to look at. The butterflies that are floating around in our area include monarch and painted ladies plus a few of the sulfur types.

And, if you are not out in the garden scouting for pesky pests or beautiful butterflies, you can attend the Lyon County Master Gardener perennial sale from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday at Memorial Park at the intersection of Marvin Schwan Drive and N 1st Street.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com