The summer comes and the kitchen gardeners will find themselves faced with the terror of beetles of different shapes and sizes that simply devour whatever has been grown with much love and hard work in the kitchen gardens. Beetles like the blister beetle and the Mexican bean beetle can do severe damage in a short period of time.
These beetles are difficult to control, and in most cases, by the time the gardener gears up for action they are done with the damage and gone.
Blister beetles attack in droves and will eat like crazy, the entire time excreting yucky black poop that soils whatever they have not yet eaten.
These are almost ¾” long and have flexible and soft wing covers. They may be marked with stripes or margins. This species usually attacks in droves during the end of June and through July.
If the numbers are not too high, the best way is to hand pick them.
Do remember to wear gloves when doing so, as their bite can be vicious and they also have a caustic discharge that is harmful for the skin.
No matter how dreadful you consider the task, if you let them be, they will eat everything fruits, vegetables, trees, flowers and vines.
A quick and harmless way would be to dust the affected area with a mix of all purpose flour and lime in equal parts. It is most effective when sprinkled during the hottest part of the day. In most cases the beetle will disappear quickly.
In case of severe attacks you may like to use Liquid Rotenone Pyrethrins, an organic compound that is very strong and should be the last resort. They are very difficult pests to get rid of so one can only pray that they don’t come visiting one’s garden.
The bean beetle is invasive and destructive too. And again the best way to rid your garden of them is to search and destroy. When you see leaf riddles with holes, turn it around and you are sure to catch the beetle or its caterpillar eating it.
All you can do is steel your nerve and pick them with up and crush them. Also it pays to clean the garden thoroughly during winter and till the soil is really well during spring to rid the garden and soil of any hidden bugs.
Natural ways to keep these pests away are to plant bush beans instead of pole beans as the bean beetles don’t favor the bush beans. Some rosemary planted around the beans may help keep the pests away too.
If things are getting out of control you can look for insecticides and pesticides that are suitable. Remember to use them well before harvesting time.
Mexican bean beetles rarely damage the other parts of the plant. They usually just devour the leaves. In severe cases it may penetrate deeper and adversely affect the crop. Heavy infestations can lead to destruction of entire crops.
In both cases you need to be on the alert and react as soon as you see a couple of the pests. Early detection may be crucial to save your plants and crops.
The bottom line is that the best tool against this type of garden pests is to be a vigilant type of gardener.