mjgates
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Location: Richmond, VA

What is eating my garden?

This problem started with the cucumber plants only, but I am now seeing it start to spread to other plants as well. Even those that are still really small like pepper plants and a couple watermelon recent sprouts I threw in very late. The following link will take you to a photobucket album with 11 pics of the different plants. This is my first year with a garden. A project my kids wanted to take on as a family this year. If anyone could tell what this is and how to treat it before I'm at total loss I would appreciate it.

[url]https://s1109.photobucket.com/albums/h430/Richmond_Rukus/Garden/[/url]

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digitS'
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You have waited quite awhile for a response so let me take a shot at it. It looks like you may have a couple of things causing you trouble, mjgates. I would guess both flea beetles and slugs/snails. Since you aren't seeing what is eating on the plants, that kind of reinforces the idea that it's these 2 pests.

Slugs/snails often eat into plants from both the edges and the center of the leaf. Unlike the large holes they may leave, flea beetles make small holes and sometimes, just small pits in the leaves.

Flea beetles are tiny and if they are aware of you approaching they jump/fly/disappear. Slugs and snails come out at night and go back into hiding during the day. So, it is often difficult for the gardener to find these pests.

The plants don't look in terrible shape, however. Yes, there is damage but the production may not be dragged down by it. The plants don't look like they are dying or anywhere close to it.

You are right to be watchful. Look for those tiny black beetles during daylight hours and go out after dark with a flashlight to see if there are slugs.

If you have some cover where they may hide thru the day, slugs are willing to travel some distance to eat on plants at night. Some gardeners use beer as a bait for slugs and snails but take a look at this [url=https://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/QT/lesstoxicinsecticidescard.html]guide for less toxic pesticides from UCDavis[/url] for botanical insecticides that should be effective against the beetles.

My own experience with slugs has been that they don't like much of anything that I put down on the ground around garden plants. And, that includes things that aren't meant to kill slugs, like insecticidal soap spray.

The plants aren't in dire straits at the moment - it seems to me. You are doing the right thing by preparing yourself to act in the future before things really get ruined. Here is wishing you the best of luck.

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

orgoveg
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I agree with Steve. Some of my plants look exactly like that every year and flea beetles/slugs are the culprits. Also, when I see the crooked brown lines, I think that may be leaf miners.

mjgates
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Thank you for the responses. Someone told me today to use Sevin Dust. Is this a last resort, or is this ok to use to take care of the critters you referenced?

orgoveg
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Sevin comes up often on this forum and not many folks around here would recommend introducing it to your garden. Basically, it can do much more harm than good. You can click "search the forum" above and type in "sevin" for alot of information.

For the flea beetles, I would start with a spray bottle of insecticidal soap. If you can catch the critters in the act, it kills on contact. You can also do a search to learn how to make your own insecticidal soap spray. If you need to go a step further, get some neem oil and follow the label directions. That should keep flea beetles in check. As for the slugs, just go on a search and destroy mission after dark (especially after a rain or watering). I pick them up and squish them with a rock or something, then wash my hands well when done. You can usually pick them up with a stick with practice. You could also wear a rubber glove.

There are lots of different substances to use for lots of different insects. Some are very useful and relatively safe. Some are pretty nasty. For getting really aggressive in some situations, things like rotenone, pyrethrin, and Entrust (spinosad) are fairly safe when used properly. I have to stress the "used properly" part as that goes for any chemical.

gardenvt
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Save the Sevin for when yu need to save your crops. We had a really bad infestation of cucumbeor beetles and used the spray only on the plants that were affected.

We use Safer insecticidal soap for most of our pests. It works well. Also, if you have tall grass, shrubs or plant growth near the garden, it helps to keep that cut down. It provides a "camping" spot for the critters you are trying to get rid of. At least spray the shrubs and other plants with the insecticidal soap at the same time you are spraying adjacent garden plants.

My husband commented last night that it seemed there was something new going on in the garden almost daily. The cucumber beetles, monster black worm, larvae hiding under curled leaves, a wilted plant leaf - he said it just doesn't end. (I am the gardener and he is my part time "helper.")

It is a challenge some days, some seasons but with some thought and a watchful eye, I think we can get through most seasons without losing too much and without using things like Sevin. This is the first time we have used it and I hope I don't need it again.

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digitS'
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I have had over 40 gardening seasons and only used a synthetic insecticide once. That was before I realized that Permethrin was not made from Pyrethrum and bought a bottle of "Tomato & Vegetable Insect Killer."

I've sprayed the dickens out of ornamentals, used to work in a commercial greenhouse and on farms. Used sythetics all the time and even sprayed DDT in the barn and on the cows back a long time ago. Sorry folks but most of us knew next to nothing about pesticides in the '50's :oops: !

Some real nasty bugs just don't show up in this neck of the woods but I do lose things. I've just found that it is better to have many baskets to carry the eggs, uh, garden produce. I believe in organic crop protection but if one crop gets hammered, I'll do my best but if I can't put a stop to it, there will be something else that slips by without damage.

It also helps these days to have the veggies in multiple locations :wink: .

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

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