Summertime Pest

By Kathryn Courtney
   It’s July. It’s Hot! This is a hard month for gardening. Not only does the weather try to kill us but the garden pests come out in hoards. Dealing with garden pests in the heat and humidity is not pleasant but it’s a task that needs to be done for a beautiful garden in September. I stroll through my garden in the evening when the heat is not so terrible. As I water I watch for the summer garden problems of mildew and insects.
Powdery Mildew

Mildew seems to be the number one problem in my garden this year. I made the classic gardeners mistake, I over planted. Not having enough airflow in and around your plants promotes molds, mildews and rust. All of these are huge problems for me right now. I finally waved the white flag and just pulled up my squash. Planting fungus resistant cultivars such as mildew resistant zinnias and Ashley cucumbers helped. Next spring, do some research to find good flowers and vegetables for the humid gulf coast. I have found that this step in garden planning prevents a lot of heartache later. If you have problems ask someone in the nursery for help. We google everything! To get rid of a fungus use an organic spray. We have several including Neem oil, Triple Action and Copper Fungicide. All of these need to be sprayed in the evening when the sun is going down. These are oil sprays and will burn your plants in the heat of the day. Make sure to spray the tops and bottoms of the leaves until the spray is dripping off the plant. This will ensure the whole plant is covered. Also, removing leaves that have fallen to the ground and sealing them in a plastic bag helps keep the fungus from spreading. I have thinned out some of my plants to allow better airflow and that seems to be helping. Black spot on roses begins to get really bad this time of year. Neem oil works best for this problem.

     Hot summer brings bugs of all kinds. Large and small, crawling and slithering, there is every kind

Leaf Footed Bug Larvae

of pest imaginable. For getting rid of the large pests use the pick and squish method. Be sure to use gloves to cut

Leaf Footed Bug or Stink Bug

down on the Ick factor. If you can’t bring yourself to squish, throwing the bugs in a bucket of soapy water is just as effective. I have used this method on leaf footed bugs and snails with good results. It also works great for tomato horn worms. Spraying the bugs with Neem oil or Triple Action works but this can only be done in the evening. For slugs and snails there is a bait called Sluggo that is very effective.

     The major bug problem in the summer seems to be the small bugs. Mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, scale  and many others attack in the heat and humidity. Spider

Spider Mite Damage

mites are especially troublesome because they are too small to see. If you suspect spider mites, shake a leaf of the infected plant over a white piece of paper. Using a magnifying glass, look for little red spider looking bugs. If you find them you have spider mites. For these bug problems spraying is usually the only option. For everything but scale, Neem and Triple Action are good choices for getting rid of these small pests. Scale is harder to tackle. Scale bugs have hard outer shells that make killing them hard. A mixture of Neem and orange oil can work. The orange oil helps break down the shell so the Neem can get to the bug. These treatments need to be done weekly and all of

Scale

the undersides of the leaves must be sprayed. Most of the small insects are found on the under side of the leaf. If all else fails and the infected plants are not edible, the last resort is a systemic drench. Pouring the drench around the base of the plant so the systemic can reach the roots is how this insecticide works. The poison goes into the plant and kills anything living on the stems and leaves. This really needs to be a last resort because these pesticides are bad for you and the environment.

     I know it’s hot and I know it’s hard, but keeping up with the summertime pests is important for the health of your garden. Keeping an eye on the garden in the evening is something we all can do. The reward is a beautiful fall garden and healthy summer  plants.