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Insect Control in the Organic Vegetable Garden. Outline. Planning to avoid pests Insect Monitoring and Identification Fundamentals of Organic Insect Control Cultural Practices Sanitation, exclusion Attracting natural enemies Botanical and biological pesticides

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Insect Control in the Organic Vegetable Garden

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    1. Insect Control in the Organic Vegetable Garden

    2. Outline • Planning to avoid pests • Insect Monitoring and Identification • Fundamentals of Organic Insect Control • Cultural Practices • Sanitation, exclusion • Attracting natural enemies • Botanical and biological pesticides • Key vegetable insect pests and control strategies

    3. Organic Control ‘Toolbox’Example for Cucumber Beetle • Habitat for natural enemies • Grow cucurbit varieties less attractive to beetles • Long distance crop rotation • Transplant vs direct seeding • Eliminate crop residues • Manipulate planting date (may miss peak markets) • Row covers (may interfere with weeding) • Mulch (may exacerbate other pests) • Trellis plants (labor) • Trap crops, baits and sticky traps (labor, cost) • Approved materials • Neem, Beauveriabassiana, kaolin clay, pyrethrin, spinosad Source: Univ. of Kentucky Entomology

    4. First StepsManage Soil for Healthy Plants • Soil test (pH, P, K, micronutrients) • Organic matter (cover crops, compost) • Fertility plan • Application based on crop needs • Avoid excess N • If planting in turf • Till before planting • Check for grubs

    5. Choose Less Susceptible Varieties • Hairy-leaf varieties • Tight husked corn • Corn earworm • Virus-resistance • GMO • Tomatoes • Cucurbits • Squash vine borer • ATTRA publication

    6. Avoid Pest Insects in TimeGather info on key pests • Early planted crops generally have lower insect pressure • Pests with multiple generations • Stink bugs, whiteflies, tomato fruitworm • Don’t prolong harvest • Late planting • Pests that overwinter locally • Cucumber beetles, bean leaf beetles Harvest before early July to avoid Pickleworm

    7. Avoid Insect Pests in SpaceGarden Layout Plan (learn crop families) • Rotate beds/plots to different plant families • Avoid successive plantings of same crop in adjacent beds • Maximize diversity • Interplanting • Mix different families • Add flowering plants

    8. Keeping Records

    9. Sampling Scheme • Begin sampling at planting • Sample weekly by crop • Sample enough plants to represent planting area, and that can be done in a reasonable time • Records will document what’s present, and whether populations are increasing, or decreasing

    10. Sampling Equipment

    11. To Spray or Not to Spray • Keep organic insecticides handy • Purchased, home-made • Decision to spray based on • Experience • Insect’s potential for damage • Type of damage (direct or indirect) • Stage of plant growth • Population trends (sampling records) • Does insect have natural enemies; are they present?

    12. Evidence of Natural Enemies

    13. Plants Can Tolerate Some DefoliationExample: Potatoes

    14. Insect Identification ID insects at least to Order, and if possible to Family

    15. Classification

    16. Key Insect Orders Orthoptera: Grasshoppers and Crickets Hemiptera: True Bugs Thysanoptera: Thrips

    17. Key Insect Orders Coleoptera: Beetles Diptera: Flies

    18. Key Insect Orders Homptera: Aphids, whiteflies Lepidoptera: Butterflies, moths Hymenoptera: Ants, bees, wasps

    19. Arachnids: Mites and Spiders Spider mites Spiders

    20. Insect Metamorphosis • Incomplete (12%) • Grasshoppers • True bugs • Aphids, thrips • Complete (88%) • Beetles • Flies • Ants, wasps, bees

    21. Tips to Identify Larvae Lepidpotera (Caterpillars) Coleoptera: Beetles

    22. Tips to Identify Larvae Hymenoptera: Wasps Diptera: Flies

    23. Quiz: What are these? Hint: One on top will undergo complete metamorphosis; One on bottom; incomplete metamorphosis

    24. Cultural PracticesTillage • Disrupts insect pest life cycles • Exposes them to weather, predators • Destroys crop debris • Accelerates organic matter decomposition • Depletes food for microbes • Degrades soil structure, erosion

    25. MulchesOrganic • Straw mulch • Retains soil moisture, lowers soil temperature • Habitat for predators (and some pests) • Excellent for potatoes, cucurbits

    26. MulchesPlastic • Black • Speeds early season crop growth • Reflective: • Repels thrips, aphids • Reduces spread of viruses

    27. Melon-Virus ExperimentsCover crop as camouflage • Annual rye planted between rows in late fall • Virus incidence lower in cover crop treatments • Reflective mulch also reduced virus incidence % Plants Infected with WMV

    28. Sanitation • Start with pest free transplants • Remove crop residue after harvest • Remove diseased plants • Remove weeds • Establish perennial and flowering plants for natural enemy habitat

    29. Exclusion

    30. High Pressure Spray(Aphids, mites, whiteflies) Water Wand: Cecil Stokes; E-mail (

    31. Attracting Natural EnemiesMaking use of Nature’s Services • Use of hedgerows in farming • Small trees, shrubs • Perennial grasses, forbs • Flowering annuals • Begin growing before crop • Provide food and shelter for natural enemies

    32. Attracting Natural EnemiesInsectary Plants in the Garden • Establish insectary border(s) • Pick plants for successive bloom spring-fall • Fruit trees, flowering shrubs, perennial and annual flowers • Include low growing plants (ground beetles)

    33. Insectary Plants • Apiaceae (small parasitic wasps) • Fennel, coriander, dill, wild carrot • Compositacae/Asteraceae, mint family(predatory wasps and flies) • Daisy, chamomile, zinnia, echinacea, spearmint, catnip • Thyme, rosemary, clover • Bees, wasps, ground beetles

    34. Some Organic Insecticides • Entrust (Spinosad) • Microbial fermentation product • Targets: caterpillars, thrips, leafminers, some beetles • Soft on natural enemies, but toxic to bees • $550/lb • 1 gram/5 gal • 450 tanks = $1.20 each

    35. Bacillus thuringiensis • BT kurstaki and aizawai • Controls caterpillars • BT israelensis • Mosquito larvae • BT tenebrionis • Beetle larvae • Insects must eat treated foliage • Good spray coverage • Better against small larvae

    36. Neem • Azadirachtin: extract from neem tree • Multiple modes of action, including repellency • Broad spectrum • Best against larvae • Also good on whiteflies,aphids

    37. Pyrethrin or Pyrethrum • Extract from flowers of pyrethrum daisy • Broad spectrum • Breaks down quickly

    38. Insecticidal Soap • Potassium salts of fatty acids • Acts by smothering and can break down insect cuticle • Best against soft bodied insects (aphids, whiteflies, mites)

    39. Kaolin Clay • Applied as a slurry before pests arrive • Physical barrier, deterrent, irritant • Mix well, remove sprayer filter • Must wash fruit

    40. Pepper and Garlic Sprays BT Garlic Pepper Karate Neem Control

    41. Cucurbit Pests

    42. Squash Bug Control • Crop rotation and sanitation are very important. Rotate next years crop to different area. • During the summer, adults tend to congregate under shelter at night. Place boards on the soil surface near the squash in the evening and the next morning collect and destroy the pest. • Destroy egg masses on the underside of leaves. • A parasitic fly, Trichopodapennipes, affects adult squash bugs and several wasps parastize the eggs. Provide habitat for these in or near the field. • If squash bugs are a problem on your farm, avoid heavy mulch or no-till in susceptible crops such as zucchini. Squash bugs like shelter, and appear more numerous in reduced tillage or mulched crop systems. • Pyrethrin and Neem products

    43. Cucurbit Pests

    44. Squash Vine Borer Control • Winter squash, pumpkins and zucchini are particularly susceptible. Butternut squash (C. moschata) is resistant. • Soon after crop harvest, plow the vine debris deeply to bury over larvae. • Rotate fields. • In small plantings, it may be possible to manually remove the larvae. Find the sawdust-like frass on the affected plant stem, and then locate the larva by slicing lengthwise along the stem until you reach it. Destroy the larva, and then cover the slit stem area with soil. • Keep floating row covers in place after transplanting or direct seeding until flowering.

    45. Cucurbit Pests

    46. Cucumber Beetle Control • Crop rotation and sanitation are important. • Floating row covers are very effective for avoiding beetle damage. Remember to temporarily remove the covers periodically to weed early, and leave off permanently when the flowers appear to allow pollination. • Use of trap crops. Cultivars vary dramatically in their attractiveness to beetles. The inexpensive variety Dark Green Zucchini and Blue Hubbard squash are effective trap crops. • Yellow sticky cups or tape can trap adults. They should be replaced regularly as they become saturated with beetles and field debris. • Use transplants instead of direct seeding. They will be older when beetles arrive and therefore more tolerant, or you can plant later after peak beetle activity is over.

    47. Solanaceous Crop Pests

    48. CPB Control • Crop rotation • Propane flamer; young potato plants if infested • Mulch crops with straw or hay before adults arrive • Hand picking • Entrust, Neem

    49. Solanaceous Crop Pests

    50. Flea Beetle Control • Row covers • Spinosad • Neem products • Capsaicin gives some control (45% in one study). The product, Miller’s Hot Sauce™ is OMRI-approved and labeled for use on crop plants as a mammal repellant. If so used, it will also reduce flea beetle damage. • Pyrethrum: Pyganic™ has shown variable results • Kaolin clay (Surround™).