Friday, February 15, 2013

Fire ant home remedy webinar- follow up

It's been two weeks since my webinar on fire ant home remedies.  If you missed it because you had other pressing things to do that day- which I don't know what can be more important than listening to me rattle on about fire ants- the webinar was recorded.  You can find a link to the webinar session here:

It's right under the February 1st, 2013 Fire Ant Home Remedy section.

I hope it went well.  I think webinars are much harder to carry off because you have no audience to react with.  I felt like I was droning on and on, but I did give information on all the home remedies I have tested to date.  I also talked about naturally derived methods of managing fire ants.  Give it a listen!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Flea beetles

Flea beetles....part flea, part beetle?  Well, not exactly.  Flea beetles are a type of beetle that have enlarged hind legs and jump when they are disturbed.  The hind legs and jumping motion are similar to that of fleas, hence the name. 

Flea beetles.
Flea beetles come in a wide variety of sizes (but all are still pretty small) and colors.  They have chewing mouthparts and often damage plants by eating foliage.  Damage can be somewhat characteristic- they chew small "shotholes" in the foliage.  Damage is most problematic in seedlings or in crops where you also want to consume the foliage.

Flea beetles overwinter in the adult stage in protected locations, emerging in spring when temperatures begin to warm up.  Since the weather has been rather springlike lately, I've been hearing about people finding these insects in the vegetables.  After mating, eggs are laid around the base of plants or in cracks in the soil.  Larvae feed on root hairs and small roots, but they are not considered to be the damaging stage.
Flea beetle damage.

To avoid flea beetle problems, try planting transplants to avoid the insects attacking seedlings.  You could also try planting a high rate of seedlings and then thin as needed once they are established.  It may also help by adjusting planting times to avoid beetle emergence.  Row cover can be placed over plants to physically block the insects from attacking the plant.  If beetles are already on the plant, they would need to be managed before row cover was utilized.  Vacuuming flea beetles off the plant is another option (and one that can be fun, especially for kids!).

As far as pesticide options, look for active ingredients such as spinosad (a naturally-derived product that works well on foliage feeding insects), azadirachtin (neem), horticultural oils, diatomaceous earth, permethrin or carbaryl.