Agents of Destruction: a pest round up

Spring is not just flowers, freckles and baby lettuce. It’s also the waking, stretching, yawning “Hello World!” for all the pests in the yard. I can’t talk about the slugs right now – their damage to one of my artichokes plants has rendered me speechless for once – but I did a quick run down of some of the other pests I’m currently battling.

First of all, the bees have mites. Oh, the mites are tiny and there aren’t many of them yet. Yes, all beehives have varroa mites these days. I know. But I really enjoyed the three weeks where I didn’t see a single varroa mite on my sticky board. I found these immature varroa mites in my hive a week or so ago. I was only able to identify with the help of Rusty, who I have coerced into being my on-call bee advisor. Baby varroa mites look different from the adults I’ve seen photos of, but not cute like other babies. No, these are ugly, mean, hateful babies.

Varroa mites are bad. They are one of the major issues facing beekeepers these days, and there isn’t really any way to get rid of them. There are a lot of strategies for dealing with them, mostly just managing your mite load so that it doesn’t kill your hive. I don’t want to bore you to death with mite talk, but email me if you want to discuss how horrible they are.

This is the enemy of the pepper plant, and many fruit trees. I believe it is the green peach aphid, and they are JERKS with piercing, sucking mouths that draw the life out of the plants, curl the leaves, and leave behind a sticky honeydew residue. This is probably one of the nymph stages.

My poor pepper seedlings have not always had an easy life. We are frugal people with a chilly house in the PNW, and they are tropical plants stressed by the cold. The aphids have exploited this scenario to the MAX. I am using integrated pest management (IPM) strategies on these aphids – which is to say I spend a lot of time picking aphids off the pepper plants and squashing their aphid guts into aphid oblivion. I wish the weather were warmer so I could put the plants out and the aphids could experience some Natural Predation. Maybe next week!

This next photo is the work of a very common house pest. This animal shows up, munches on a bit of everything and occasionally knocks out an entire plant. Actually, this creature has eaten entire seedlings, nipped off neatly at the surface of the soil.

This menace sleeps in my bed all day and eats my tomato seedlings at night. No, it’s not a leaf miner. Her name is Elsa.

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2 Comments

Filed under bees, garden, spring, urban farming

2 responses to “Agents of Destruction: a pest round up

  1. Our cat was a late night plant muncher–it was near impossible to stop.

    • jess s

      Oh, I know. I heard you can take their teeth out and they will still gnaw through the leaves! (kidding) It does change everything, though. No more semi-toxic houseplants!

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