“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” -Steve Jobs
Let’s identify the commonest pests in the kitchen gardens, their damaging symptoms and how to protect the plants and their produce with the easiest methods possible. Top 3 pests and remedies to control/avoid them;
Leaf miners: As the name suggests are inside the leaves and are wobbly-lined from outside. this pest’s damage is easy to see; the easiest, most accurate way to identify is to look for either large blotches or tunnels that wander under the surface of the leaf. Larvae are very flat, a trait that enables them to feed inside a leaf. Feeding larvae eat the green tissue inside the leaf and leave a meandering trail that is covered by a thin case or cover. If there are many larvae feeding on a single leaf, their tunnels may join and give the appearance of large blemishes or spots.
Leaf miners are the most problematic pests in a kitchen garden because of their wide host range. The preferred host plants include vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, peas, and beans, plus flowering plants such as begonias, dahlias, impatiens, marigolds and petunias.
Leaf Miners infestation Remedies:
– At the slightest hint of burrowing of the leaves, pinch off the infested leaf with your fingers; thus eradicating the larvae will prevent further spread
– Homemade recipe: Take 2tb spoon of vegetable oil, 1tb spoon of liquid dish wash soap in a spray bottle; make the volume to 1 liter with water and shake it well. Spray this mixture in the early morning or evening hours. This mixture can be stored in a cool and dry place and used up to for 3 months.
Mealy Bugs: Mealy bugs are very small pest, soft-bodied, oval-shaped insects covered with a white, powdery wax coating. When seen on plants, they look like very small spots of cotton. Mealy bugs move slowly, but when they find a suitable location on the plant, they often become immobile and form clusters on the plant. The undernourished and weak plants are more susceptible to mealy bug attack so always maintain healthy plants with proper nutrition and moisture.
Mealy bugs infest most parts of their host plant and found most commonly on the underside of plant leaves and stems. They suck the plant sap. Mealy bugs attract ants by excreting honeydew, a sticky, sweet substance that the ants feed on. Plants infested with mealy bugs usually have leaves that turn yellow and wilt, and if the infestation is not eliminated, the plant may eventually die. When you first spot a mealy bug infestation, control measures should be taken immediately.
Mealybug infestation Remedies:
– Once infested, the first step is to check the plant thoroughly and collect the mealy bugs with hand and destroy them
– Spray neem oil or neem based formulations/ organic pest control measures once in 10 or 15 days.
Whiteflies: Plants infested with whiteflies may have yellowing leaves which eventually drop. This pest excrete a sugary substance called honeydew as a by-product of their feeding. This can appear as a shiny residue on plants. As the honeydew ages, a mold may grow in it. A final sign would be the adults which may be seen flying from a shaken plant. These suck the plant sap making the plant weak.
Whiteflies infestation Remedies:
– Remove all leaves infested by whiteflies and destroy them
– Use yellow sticky traps available in the market or make your own by taking dark yellow colour cardboard sheets of postcard size, apply Vaseline on the entire sheet and tie it near the Whitefly infested plants. The whiteflies get attracted by the colour and get stuck to the card. The card can be destroyed once it is full with Whiteflies.
Next article will be continued with more common pests and control measures.