Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Bugs Bug Me


Posted by Mikie Baker  |  No Comments »

Ok, ok, I know I left you hanging on my final character Friday, but I’m just not ready to bring him out of the closet yet. He’ll show up in a week or two.

It’s been frantic around here – trying to get the website up and rolling, learning to blog, and getting the merchandise piece done. Medina Mikie, Ink. now has real live extra funny mouse pads which will be up for sale soon. I’ve learned a lot building a new business in the past few months and I’ve only just scratched the surface. Actually I’m just trying to keep my brain sharp so I won’t turn into a Dearly Demented Mom too soon. Of course I still look for my Bluetooth when it’s stuck in my ear…

Okay, so let’s talk about what’s bugging me today. Spring has sprung which means the bugs are here. And they’ve set up camp in The Funny Farm.

Actually the attack started early on – in February when these guys showed up to ruin all my almost grown Brussel sprouts. I hadn’t been out to check on the garden in a week (I’ll never do that again) and when I got there, I found thousands of these.

The Evil Harlequin Bug

You have to either hand smash them or drown them. They have hard backs and are as formidable as the leaf hoppers that attack tomatoes in the summer. I just ripped out all the plants and gave up. If you catch them early, this is what the eggs look like on the underside of the leaf.

Get ’em before they hatch

They are tiny and there are always 10 eggs in two rows. I lost the battle big time this year, but next year I’ll know what to look for before they take over. And then the joke will be on the jester.

The next bug that bugged me was discovered when I was turning a bed before getting it ready to plant. I discovered these horrible ugly gigantic grubs that look like they’d been hanging out with baseball players and popping steroids.

 Those suckers are at least 3 1/2 inches long

The first one I pulled out of the bed I squished with my shoe. Don’t try this at home because it’ll squrit all the way to the house next door. The next one I hacked up with a hoe which wasn’t easy. The other 5 I found I just threw on the ground and dialed 911 – to a bug expert girlfriend.

She laughed at me and told me I was killing something beneficial – the Rhinoceros Beetle larvae. An adult looks like this:

I used to date a guy like him

Actually he was kind of cute and reminded me of Ralph – a Dung Beetle I found in Pensacola Florida on the motel sidewalk when I was in 8th grade. Brought Ralph home and he survived about 6 months. Of course, you can’t teach a beetle to “sit” or “stay”.

Anyway, I still didn’t like the looks of those gigantic grub worm things so I Googled them and found out they are beneficial to the soil and turn up in many a compost pile. I was still not convinced, though the cabbage and broccoli in that bed did very well last fall.

A week later, when I was ready to plant, I amended the soil one more time and removed another 20 of these suckers. I gave them to my bug expert girlfriend. She was thrilled.

But the most heinous bug of all  has just struck the garden recently. I think I picked these bad boys up in soil from some vegetable plants I bought from a local nursery. I still love the nursery, but I’m going to give them a call and let them know they are not only selling plants, but bugs, too.

Sure one doesn’t look bad, but you don’t get just one

You get gazillions!

What are they? Fungus gnats. They remind me of fruit flies only bigger. They swarm both plants and you which makes for an unpleasant experience in the vegetable garden.

So, off I was to Google land to do some research on these beasts. I ordered the Texas Bug Book by Howard Garrett and Malcom Beck, but it has yet to come in. Come to think of it, I bet the bugs in the garden will disappear just as the UPS truck drives up.

What I found out was that fungus gnats normally attack house plants. The easy solution is to remove the dirt, sterilize the pot with vinegar and re-pot in new new dirt. Changing out all the dirt in a 17 bed vegetable bed is not an option. Fungus gnats are also a problem in greenhouses (where mine came from) and hard to get rid of. No kidding.

Howard Garret says they won’t hurt your plants and that they are more of a nuisance than anything else. True, but all the organic stuff he tells me to spray on my plants damages them. Some schools of thought believe the larvae will hurt your plant roots because they live in the soil and hatch out into the air.

The first thing to fight these pesky gnats was to quit watering in the garden which is like asking me not to flirt with men. It’s unnatural.

When I could stand gnats no more and the seedlings were all big enough, I sucked it up and quit watering for five days in this very warm spring. They seem to be much better, but we had 30 mph winds yesterday and maybe they just all blew away.

The last resort, I’ve read, is to put sand on top of all the beds which will usually stop the worms from hatching. If I do that, I’m going to have to find a Beach Boy to date.

I only hope I can get these guys under control before the squash bugs, horn worms and leaf hoppers show up…if only good looking, rich, single men could be so abundant!

Finally I spotted this one last guy – guess he’s some kind of a beetle. If you know what he is, please leave a comment and I’ll spread the information.

I’m thinking he’s got a head like Charlie Brown

Spreading laughter throughout the world…one chuckle at a time.

Mikie Baker