Crop Pests

The orange strings are living weeds called Dodder. They are leafless parasitic plants of several varieties of the Cuscuta genus. For good reason, they are also called Witches’ Shoelaces,Hellweed, or Devil’s gut. I found this in one pasture that was once a stand of 15 year old pines, and I walked through the pasture, picking out all of them!

Below is a photo we took of a tomato hornworm on our tomato plant.  Notice how he’s chomping away on an unripe cherry tomato.

The next two photos are of 2 hornworms with parasitic wasp cocoons on them. These wasp larvae will kill the hornworms within days and once they’re mature will lay their eggs on future hornworms. They are very beneficial helpers in a tomato garden!

After a couple days of watching the tomato hornworms with the wasp cocoons on their backs, we were amazed to see that the tops of the cocoons opened and looked like a little trap door. The cocoons were empty and the parasitic wasp larvae were on their way to a new life of fighting future enemies!! 

The following three photos are of a male Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus.  He is also called a rhinoceros beetle. This guy is not alive, so I had to demonstrate his size by placing him on a plastic-wrapped plate of deviled eggs.

October 2017 Update:

Another pest known to every squash grower east of the Rockies is a vine borer. These dreadful pests not only demolish a squash or pumpkin patch but also attack cucumbers and melons. There is a workable solution for them other than getting rid of them completely (which I don’t think anyone can do). Because the plants that theses worms attack are vines, you can lay a bottom section of about a foot of your plants’ vine on the ground and cover it so that it will grow collateral roots. In doing so, if the base of your plant is attacked by this worm, there’ll  be enough supporting roots along the vine that can support the fruit to maturity. 

The damaged “trunk” at the soil level of this cucumber plant is circled in red. I put compost over the vine section that I hope will form collateral roots and held that section down with a piece of cinderblock.




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