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Vermont Garden Journal: Problem Pests

AP Photo/University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, Griffin Dill

Blueberries and garlic are two of my favorite, low pest edibles to grow. Get the pH right on blueberries and keep the birds away, and you're almost guaranteed a great harvest of sweet, fruits. For garlic, just plant in fall on well-drained soil, mulch them with straw and by next summer you have enough garlic to feed the Italian army, or at least your family, all year long.

But nature hates a vacuum, so guess what's happened? There are now two new insect pests attacking these very crops. I hate to be a downer, but we all should know about these new pests.

The spotted winged drosophila fly was blown into New England from the South with Hurricane Irene. It attacks ripening soft skinned fruits such as raspberries, cherries, grapes and blueberries. The adult fly lays it eggs on the fruit. The larvae feed on the fruit causing them to literally dissolve on the plant. They're especially devastating to blueberries and fall raspberries because by late summer their population has built up to high levels. Watch out for this pest and protect your plants with fine-meshed netting that prevents the fly from laying eggs.

On garlic, a new pest from Canada has been found in the Burlington area. The leek moth lays eggs at the base of chive, onion, leek and garlic plants in spring. The caterpillar bores down through the leaves causing them to collapse. A second generation in July attacks the bulbs. The best solution is to pick the larvae now, cover plants with row covers during egg laying in spring and summer, destroy infected plants and rotate crops.

Now for this week's tip, while we're talking pests, watch for the red lily leaf beetle on Asiatic and Oriental lilies. Hand pick the adult red beetles. The black slug-like larvae is found on the underside of leaves and can be crushed or sprayed with Neem oil or Spinosad to control it.

Cheer up. Next week on The Vermont Garden Journal I'll be talking about sunflowers.  Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Leek Moth
Spotted Winged Drosophila

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