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Cola82
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White worms in kale stems

In the last few days my kale plants were really going downhill. I thought it was the heat, so I watered more and put them in a shadier area, and they rebounded for about a day, but they wilted again straightaway. I was thinking I must have just put them in too small a container, but I went out today and as I was grabbing one to check its stem, it tore away from the ground with no effort. When I looked inside the ragged end it was full of little white worms.

Discouraged, I threw them all out. Any idea what they are? I did find a cucumber beetle on them a couple weeks ago because I figured it wasn't a big deal, and the photos I'm seeing of their larvae don't quite match the wriggling mass of tiny maggots I found. I probably should have taken a photo, but they mostly look like tiny grains of rice. :(

I know I can just plant more for a later harvest, but I was already picking off leaves and put them in a couple different dishes and, well, any setback is discouraging.

ETA: I'm also wondering if there's any way to save the soil--treat it, or let it dry out and kill the worms? It's hard for me to get rid of that much soil and I don't want to waste it.

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applestar
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Re: White worms in kale stems

If they looked like maggots, I think there is a pest called cabbage fly, which probably lays eggs in the base stem of cabbage family plants. Is that likely?

I would guess that you should be able to re-use the container for anything this pest won't attack. also, I wonder if Bt for gnats would work against them. I'm virtually certain you could also inject predatory nematodes in the stem.
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Cola82
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Re: White worms in kale stems

The photos of the maggots look exactly right, and I think I actually took pictures of the fly, because I thought it looked unusual, hanging out on my thai basil.

Image

The only thing is, they shouldn't be around this time of year. Everything I'm reading says they taper off July through august, and my kale should have been big enough to withstand them. The stem was about an inch or more across but they had completely hollowed it out.

But it seems by far the best candidate.

DoubleDogFarm
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Re: White worms in kale stems

I'm think more like Kale Wireworm.

https://pnwhandbooks.org/insect/vegetabl ... s-wireworm


Eric

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Cola82
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Re: White worms in kale stems

I don't know, I read the link you sent me and it talks about them spending a lot of time in the soil, years even. The kale was planted in a long rectangular planter in potting soil and set on the paved part of my patio (which is why I was worried they were just crowded).

From what I'm reading, they're also very long, and these maggots are very short, like grains of rice.

This isn't a great photo, for the reasons I stated earlier, but you can see two maggots here, near the top of the roots.

Image

Image

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