MEET THE BEETLES: LET US TALK ABOUT BEETLEMANIA
Just recently, the surviving members of the Beatles performed together onstage for the first time after so many years. They are Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Naturally, nostalgia-filled the venue, as both the old and the younger generation are fans of the band and their songs to this day. Two of their members have passed on, but they still live on through their music and in the hearts of millions of people who continue to be touched by them. People call it Beatlemania.
In other news, another thing that has been happening among farmers and in gardens is a mania of some sort. Yes, farmers cannot seem to stop obsessing over them. These are the beetles, and beetle mania has swept them due to the damage they cause in crops. Beetles feed on economically important plants and cause extremely serious damage to agriculture.
There are over 400,000 species of beetles, though many of these are good insects. By far, they are the largest order of insects. They eat other insects that cause damage to plants, and they are at the same time food for many other animals like birds, lizards, and other small mammals. Indeed, there is only a small fraction of them that are actually destructive.
Adult beetles have 2 pairs of wings. They have hard, shell-like exteriors. They come in many varieties of shapes, colours, and sizes.
Beetles can be found in almost every habitat in the world. They are in trees, flowers, leaves, inside the plants, in freshwater or coastal habitats.
In order to prevent damage to your plants, it is important to know how to identify the good beetles from the bad beetles. Only then will you be able to protect your crops and ensure a better harvest.
Here are some of the beetles that can cause more harm than good.
Flea beetle – Flea beetles are very common pests that cause damage to vegetable crops like cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, spinach, broccoli, turnips, and melons. They do the damage by chewing the leaves, leaving unsightly holes in them. Flea beetle infestation can result in wilted or stunted plants.
They feed on the leaves and stems of plants, creating small, irregular holes and shallow pits in the leaves. Only the flea beetles can do this kind of damage. The adults are the ones making the damage. These adults are active during the spring
To help you identify flea beetles, they are small insects, ⅛ to 1/16 inch long. One type of flea beetle, the spinach flea beetle, is a bit different as it can grow to ¼ inch. They come in a variety of colours; they can be black, metallic grey, blue, or brown. They are equipped with large, black legs. These legs allow them to become very good jumpers; they jump when they are disturbed.
Monitor their activities during spring. It is important not to treat them during summer because plants are already strong enough to withstand damage from flea beetles. Their population also dwindles at around this time.
To find out if you have flea beetles, put yellow sticky traps and check your plants for damage. To keep them out, use row covers to keep them out until the plants grow up and can survive flea beetle attacks. Just make sure to remove the covers when the flowers begin to come up to allow for pollination. If you are looking for natural enemies, then wasps are the predators that prey on flea beetles.
Japanese beetles – Japanese beetles are small but menacing beetles that are a huge threat to crops. They are not choosy as to what plant to eat, which makes them so dangerous for farmers. They are considered one of the major insect pests in the United States. It is named as such because of its Japanese origins; they were found only in Japan. In the 1900s when plants rooted in soil were being imported, Japanese beetles gained access to the United States and caused them to spread all over the country.
Japanese beetles are ½ inch in length. They have metallic blue-green heads, copper backs, tan wings, and small white hairs on their abdomen. They lay eggs in the soil, and these eggs hatch and become tiny grubs that have brown heads and six legs. They will stay under the soil for ten months and would emerge finally as adults.
They feed on a wide variety of crops but are more inclined towards eating roses, raspberries, grapes, and beans. Signs that you have Japanese beetles include brown patches of dying grass and leaves that only have the veins remaining.
Protect your plants from Japanese beetles by placing row covers on them during its 6 to 8 week feeding period. The best way to protect your plants though is to handpick these beetles one by one. After picking them off, put them in a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid detergent and water to drown them.
Lily leaf beetle – Do not let their looks deceive you. Lily leaf beetles are aesthetically pleasing, with its bright scarlet body and blackhead, antenna, and legs. Behind that natural beauty is a voracious eater of plants. They feed on different kinds of plants, including potatoes and lilies.
They are ½ inch long and are excellent fliers. Female adult lily beetles can lay as many as 450 eggs in a season, and lay their eggs along the underside of the leaves of young lilies. The larvae cause more damage than the adults, as they chew from the underside of the leaves.
If your garden has a small number of lily leaf beetles, handpicking them from your plants is the most effective way to get rid of them. Drown them in a bucket of soapy water then dispose of them right away.
Prevention is always better than cure, so when buying plants, inspect for holes in the foliage or ragged edge on the leaves. The undersides of the leaves should also be checked for the presence of larvae and eggs.
Cucumber beetles – There are two types of cucumber beetles: the striped and the spotted. No matter what type of cucumber beetle there is, they are surely very damaging to your garden plants because they are voracious eaters. Adult cucumber beetles are ¼ inch long, yellow-green in colour, dark heads, legs, and antennae. They feed on seedlings, bright yellow squash blossoms, and cucumber flowers. This results in reduced yields and even plant loss. The larvae can also injure plants by feeding on the plants’ roots and underground stems.
Both the adult and larvae can also transmit several diseases to your plants, like bacterial wilt and mosaic virus in cucurbits.
To control their spread, inspect your plants regularly, and if you find them, handpick these beetles one by one. It may be time-consuming, but handpicking is still the most effective way to get rid of them.
Place floating row covers on seedlings. Let it stay there until the plants are old enough to withstand the beetles’ damaging effects. You may also try using beneficial nematodes to prevent the development of immature stages within the soil. Beneficial nematodes are worm-like parasites that are microscopic and hunt down almost all pests, including fleas, fungus gnats, and beetles. Do not worry, they are harmless to humans, pets, and plants.
Squash bugs – Squash bugs definitely kill plants. They suck the sap from the leaves and stems of squash and pumpkins. They can also damage the plants.
Squash bugs are over ½ inches in length, fairly large for a beetle. They are either brown or grey in colour, with flattened backs. They have orange stripes at the edges of their underbelly.
Handpick these squash bugs if you find them on your plants. Put them in a bucket of soapy water to drown. This is the most effective way to stop them from spreading.
Some people may be resigned to the fact that pests will always be a part of their lives whether indoor or outdoor. This should not be the case; if you have pest problems, just call the best pest control management in the Carolinas, Go-Forth Pest Control.
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