Garden pests accompany warm weather
Anyone who has spent time outdoors lately knows the gnats are out there and mosquitoes will be multiplying.
Has the wet spring produced more insects? Yes, and no, depending on the type of insects.
“Gnats and ticks seem to always be around,” said Jefferson County Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticultural program assistant Kim Keller. “I dabbed vanilla [the baking ingredient] around my face and on my legs this morning when I went for a walk before the wind kicked up. It helps keep gnats off. I would have used Avon’s Skin So Soft if I had some.”
White moths are beginning to emerge, though they usually show up earlier in gardens but were delayed by the rains, Keller said.
White moths lay eggs on cabbage and broccoli plants.
“It’s best to dust your crops when you first see the moths, so they won’t lay the eggs,” she said.
Keller recommended Sevin, a Bayer Company insecticide using the chemical carbaryl, and for a more natural insecticide, diatomaceous earth for controlling larvae.
“Or you can hand-pick the green worms — they’re about an inch long — off the cabbage and broccoli, but they’re harder to find on broccoli because the worms like to go down into broccoli,” said Keller.
Cucumber beetles, which feed on squash and cucumbers, are one garden pest Keller is hoping not to see this summer.
“We had a lot of those last year because of the hot, dry weather,” she said. “One type comes to Iowa from hurricane storm remnants and another type arrives with the emergence of the corn, but since that is later this year, I don’t know if we’ll see the beetles or not.”
Mosquitos like to breed in stagnant, sitting water. It is recommended to drain, discard or fill any such places outdoors to eliminate as much breeding ground as possible.
Mosquitos are more than annoying. In the U.S., mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile virus.
ISU Department of Entomology’s website, www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin has information about Iowa’s insects and offers anyone to send in insect specimens for identification. It also offers diagnosing plant problems and identifying plant specimens.
“I have already sent in ticks to Iowa State and they came back as deer ticks,” said Keller. “I didn’t ask for the ticks to be tested for Lyme disease.”
Links on the website provide instructions for sending in dead specimens or submitting photographs of insects by email.
It also has a gallery of photos depicting several images and species of bugs.
Information about Lyme disease is available on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/lyme and says:
“Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.”
Ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. Contact with ticks could occur during outdoor activities around home or when walking through leaf litter or near shrubs. The CDC recommends walking in the center of trails in order to avoid contact with ticks.
The CDC website offers information about how long EPA-registered repellents will work and how to use them, as well as other ways to protect from biting insects.