garden bugs i have known: knowledge is power
YES, I HAVE GONE BUGGY. (As I keep saying semi-jokingly, with a last name like Roach, what other outcome could there have been?) The last year, camera and field guide in hand, I’ve tried to get to know a lot more of my immediate neighbors, such as the nymph of the green soldier bug or stink bug, above. A roundup of some other visitors:
green soldier or stink bug,
Acrosternum hilare or Chinavia hilaris
I LOVE THAT the species name for this bug, hilare or hilaris, means cheerful or lively, and indeed its nymph stage (top photo) is colorful as a clown. The adults are bright green and shield-shaped. With its sharp, piercing mouthparts, the green soldier or stink bug is good at eating most anything plant-wise, but really enjoys black cherry, flowering dogwood, pine, highbush blueberries, apples, eggplants, tomatoes and much more. A more complete list of the green stink bug’s diet and a look at its life-cycle. They can damage soybean crops, and out West, Acrosternum is a pest of almonds.
squash bug, Anasa tristis
IF THE GREEN SOLDIER BUG’S name is cheerful, the most common squash bug’s, Anasa tristis, says it is sad–which is what it was making me when I was picking these guys off regularly earlier this summer. How to prevent and eliminate squash bugs.
three-lined potato beetle,
Lema daturaphila or trilinea
WHEN I FIRST SAW THESE on my potato foliage in late spring, I thought they were cucumber beetles who’d gotten lost. But then I looked closer: the three-lined potato beetles‘ heads are orange, not dark, and so is their thorax. I squashed a lot of eggs I found on the foliage undersides, at first fearing I had Colorado potato beetles in the making, and kept after it until no more appeared. Though not as voracious as the Colorado potato beetle, I still didn’t want an unchecked outbreak of this first-time visitor to the garden. Apparently Lema will also chew on foliage of tomatoes and eggplants, but likes tomatillos best of all. A Rutgers factsheet on this pest.
japanese beetles, Popillia japonica Newman
IT’S NEARLY A CENTURY since this destructive, much-loathed but very beautiful beetle got accidentally imported to the U.S. from Japan in 1916, and gardeners East of the Mississippi know their impact full well. I’ve tried to keep Japanese beetles somewhat in check here by tackling the white grubs who overwinter in the soil and turf, using beneficial nematodes.
In my garden they love raspberries, ostrich fern, cannas, and roses in particular. This USDA bulletin (pdf) outlines the life-cycle of the pest, and includes a section on biological (non-chemical) control for Japanese beetle, including two nematode species. If you have them, handpick (as with other obvious pests like tomato hornworms) in early morning and drown in a can of water to reduce infestation. Entomologist Dr. Dave Smitley at Michigan State Extension is among those working on a possible solution. A recent story by him, which also explains why Milky Spore sold in garden centers may not be the answer.
bug books and websites i rely on
EVERY GARDENER NEEDS a bug book or two. I love the “Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America,” along with “Garden Insects of North America,” from Princeton University Press. Online, I marvel at the free help available in the form of BugGuide.net.