In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
October, 2009
Regional Report

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Loopers and caterpillars love cabbage as much as we do!

More Hot-Weather-Loving Pests -- Leafhoppers, Leafminers, Loopers and Caterpillars, and Mites

If leafhoppers, leafminers, and mites have been enjoying your garden, you will already have seen the damage and so can plan for next year's hot weather that they love so much. Loopers and worms may plague the crops you'll be planting shortly for a fall and winter harvest.

Leafhoppers
PROBLEM: Leafhoppers leave tips and margins of leaves looking dried or burnt, and white stippling is on the upper surfaces.
SOLUTION: Dust with diatomaceous earth. Employ lacewings. Plant petunias and geraniums as repellents. Remove and destroy affected plants. Keep the garden free of weeds.

Leafminers
PROBLEM: The leafminer leaves white blisters, tunnels, or blotches in plant foliage.
SOLUTION: Handpick and destroy the infected leaves. Grow less-susceptible varieties. Keep garden free of weeds. Consider growing pak choi to replace infested spinach. The pak choi's taste and use in cooking is similar, its growth needs are the same, and it overwinters well.

Loopers and caterpillars
PROBLEM: Members of the caterpillar family, which includes cabbage loopers and cabbage worms, chew large, ragged holes in the leaves they consume. Cabbage and lettuce heads may be bored into. The light green caterpillars and their droppings may be present.
SOLUTION: Handpick and destroy the worm and its egg clusters, and destroy the adult white moths that flutter so prettily -- they're not just nice butterflies! Apply garlic/onion/paprika spray or dust with diatomaceous earth. Cover plants with cheesecloth when the adult white moths appear, to prevent their laying eggs on plant foliage. For severe infestation, spray with Bt -- Bacillus thuringiensis. Lacewing larvae and trichogramma wasps destroy the eggs that the adults lay.

Mites
PROBLEM: When foliage is stippled, loses color, wilts, and may be covered with fine webbing, mites have been at work.
SOLUTION: Hose off the mites and their webs with a strong stream of water, including the undersides of the leaves. Sprinkle the plant foliage occasionally to keep it free of webbing. Lower surrounding air temperatures with applications of organic mulches. Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions and plants with a calcium deficiency. Spray plants with a mixture of 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 4 cups of wheat flour to "goo up" the mites. Maintain a more frequent watering schedule to eliminate the moisture-stress condition which initiated the calcium deprivation. Predatory mites and lacewings eat mites. Plant onions, garlic, and chives as repellents.


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