Western Mountains and High Plains

August, 2012
Regional Report

Trap Earwigs

Commonly referred to as 'pincher bugs', European earwigs can attack dahlias and zinnias blossoms, sweet corn, ripening fruit, and many other garden flowers and vegetables. Earwigs hide during the day underneath organic debris, but come out at night to damage plants. Hand-pick from plants as you find them to reduce earwig populations. You can also make traps with sections of moistened, rolled up newspaper. Earwigs will congregate inside the trap during the day; simply pick it up and dispose of it.

Control Tomato Worms

If you find your tomato plants devoured overnight, the culprits are likely to be tomato hornworms, fierce-looking caterpillars with voracious appetites. These pests devour the leaves and can rapidly defoliate entire plants. Hornworms also chew into the young fruit. These greenish caterpillars can be difficult to find, blending in with the green foliage; look for their black droppings on leaves. Hornworms can be controlled by hand-picking and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water. You can also use Bt, a biological control; this works best when caterpillars are small.

Stop Psyllid Damage to Tomatoes and Peppers

Deposits of shiny, white crystals on the upper leaves of tomato plants can indicate that plants are being attacked by the tomato/potato psyllid. These pests can stunt growth and result in hard, tiny fruit. Young psyllids can be found on the undersides of the leaves. The white, crystalline powder is actually the waste from psyllids feeding. An effective control is to dust the underside of the foliage with sulfur dust when temperatures are below 90 degrees or use a insecticidal soap spray.

Keep Weeds from Seeding

Don't let up on the battle with weeds. Hand pull when the soil is moist to prevent weeds from blooming and developing seeds. If weeds have developed seed heads, do not put them in the compost pile, since most composting methods will not heat up enough to kill the seeds.

Keep a Watch for Cucumber Beetles

Don't let striped cucumber beetles damage the flowers and developing fruit of squash, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. Their feeding frenzy will cause the flowers to fall off and reduce production. The beetles are also known to transmit virus diseases, which will stunt the growth of the plants and cause yellowing and wrinkling of the leaves. Hand-pick adult beetles when you notice them in the garden and drop in a bucket of soapy water.

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