July 11, 2008

A new bug to hate

Beet Leafminers suck.

As you all know I really really hate cutworms. That has not changed, but I am realizing that compared to other bad bugs like cucumber beetles and leafminers, they are much easier to tackle.

Here is the deal with the leafminer: They are larvae, they live in the soil, they are hard to see, and get rid of. They eat through the middle of the leaves of beets, chard, spinach and a few other things forming squiggly lines that eventually connect and form big whitish/brownish blotches. The only thing to really do is try to disturb them in the soil by scratching into it and to cut off the affected leaves to prevent them from reinhabiting. Leafminers pretty much go for the leaves which means the beets growing below ground are usually ok. That's ok for the beets, but ya can't eat the greens. Grrr.

I spent about 30 minutes on Tuesday night hacking away at my chard and beets, removing any leaves that looked "mined." The result was a huge pile of food-I-never-got-to eat which I threw in the trash. You can't compost the buggy stuff. That would be evil since the bugs will totally reproduce. I am now the proud owner of a small chard plant with three puny leaves.

I'm really not that mad at the moment because I also made about 4 jars of pesto last weekend, got to eat one lovely sungold cherry tomato Tuesday and harvested an asian eggplant Wednesday night. Things are never perfect, but they could definitely be worse.


Ben said...

Could you soak the soil with a pyrethrum based insecticide to rid them of your garden?
It may kill off a couple of other good bugs for a while, but at least you'll have a good crop.

GardenGuru said...

I've had to deal with the same issue with my liriope plants. Thanks for the tips on how to deal with them. I'll definitely have to try that out.

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