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Roseamore
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What is this white insect eating my Malabar Spinach?!

Hi Everyone,

This morning I found a white insect eating the stem of one of my Malabar spinach vines. I have attached a picture of the pest and the damage he caused.

What is this pest?

I'm going to mix up some garlic and soap water (found a recipe on line) to spray all my plants. Grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects (including this white pest) have been eating my plants, will the garlic and soap water stop them?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Roseamore
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rainbowgardener
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Re: What is this white insect eating my Malabar Spinach?!

I don't know about your white pest.

Garlic-soap spray works best on soft bodied insects like aphids and probably your white thing. If you make it heavy on garlic, it may work against your grasshoppers.

Both the grasshoppers and the caterpillar numbers should be reduced by use of diatomaceous earth.

Caterpillar/worm type pests can be controlled by Bt (bacillus thuringiensis, available at garden stores, a bacterium that affects only them and nothing else).

Remember you don't have to eliminate every individual, just keep the populations in check enough that they don't destroy your crops.

The best prevention is a diverse planting of good healthy plants mixed in with herbs. Horehound, cilantro, and pot marigolds are said to help keep grasshoppers away from your plants

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Roseamore
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Re: What is this white insect eating my Malabar Spinach?!

Hi Rainbowgardener,


Thanks for your response.

Went to the hardware store today and found an organic environmentally friendly insecticide. I will use that instead of my own mixture.

Since I'm new to gardening I have a lot of zeal for eliminating pest; I guess that I should temper that zeal and remember that they are good insects as well.

I would still like to know what the white pest is; I've never seen one of them before.

Thanks again.

Roseamore
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rainbowgardener
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Re: What is this white insect eating my Malabar Spinach?!

There are a lot of good insects. And the insects that prey on the ones you don't want, need to have some food around. If you could eliminate every last aphid, then the lady bugs would leave for greener pasture. Then when more aphids came (as they always do), there would be no ladybugs to keep them in check.

This happens a lot when people spray with broad spectrum pesticides. They kill off all the insects, good and bad. Then when the crop-eaters come back, there are no predators for them, and there is a population explosion of crop eaters, worse than before they sprayed.

You are not trying to eliminate anything, just to keep a good balance and to keep crop-eating pest numbers reduced enough that you don't lose too much of your crop. You need to be willing to share, but so do the insects! :)
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Roseamore
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Re: What is this white insect eating my Malabar Spinach?!

Hi,

I did some checking around and it seems that the "white pest" is a mealy bug.

At least now I know.

Roseamore
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applestar
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Re: What is this white insect eating my Malabar Spinach?!

Huh. I think of mealy bugs as pests on indoor house plants. Goes to show location is an important factor.

For house plants, I touch each one with cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
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imafan26
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Re: What is this white insect eating my Malabar Spinach?!

I thought it was mealy bugs. They are not that hard to kill. I use rubbing alcohol and a brush or q-tip. They like to suck on the plant stems and sometimes they are at the soil surface at the base of the stem so you need to get them there too. Natural predators will take care of them if you hold off on spraying and give them a chance. Malabar spinach is such a monster that it can handle it.
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