15 August 2011

Suffocating squash bugs

As soon as the title of this post came into my mind, it was swiftly followed by the phrase 'sufferin' succotash' - as used by Sylvester the cat and Daffy Duck. Succotash is a dish of corn and beans and my problem was with the other Three Sisters crop: squash. To be even more specific, it was with the cucumber branch of the cucurbit family. The greenhouse and garden cucumber plants have been completely polished off this year. Here's what's left of the cucumber plants (including the inevitable overgrown-pickling-cucumber-I-missed):

And here are the little pests that have done the damage:

Now normally I adopt a 'live and let live' approach to pests, reckoning that eventually the balance of nature will reassert itself and something will come along that eats the pests. But the force of numbers here was too great and my one remaining squash plant (not even sure what it is, to be honest, but I wanted a chance to find out) was in danger of being overwhelmed.

The organic-ish solution was to mix some dish detergent with water and spray the mixture on the bugs. I thought the chickens might be interested in helping, but the two I brought into the greenhouse last night were only interested in nibbling at the lettuce and peppers, despite there being bugs all over the bed. I gave up on that approach and reverted to plan A. The dish detergent mixture  works (the solution stops the bugs from breathing), although I can see that it will take a while before the bug numbers are brought down to a more manageable populations.

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