Press-Republican

Cornell Cooperative Extension

August 20, 2012

Going buggy in the garden

This has been a banner year for bugs in the garden. 

Some of them help us out by pollinating our crops or serving as food for bluebirds and swallows, and some prey on other bugs that are harmful. But the bugs that get gardeners’ attention the most are the bad bugs — those that damage our crops and plants.

STINK BUGS 

In just the past couple of weeks we’ve seen a population explosion in green stink bugs. 

Every year, we can expect a good number of brown stink bugs — and some green stink bugs — to cause damage to vegetable and fruit crops (especially tomatoes). But, this year, we’re seeing green stink bugs in unusually high numbers. 

The immature stages tend to hang out on your plants in masses. They can be a real nuisance and do quite a bit of damage, especially to your developing tomato fruits. Knock them off with a strong spray of water, or call our office for something stronger to use. 

This website has more information on the pests as well as excellent pictures of all their life stages: http://is.gd/igTE5O.

LOCUST LEAFMINERS

We’ve also been getting a lot of calls and questions about what is happening to the black locust trees around Plattsburgh. I see a lot of them from the Northway, around exits 36 and 37. These tall trees are completely brown right now, so it’s easy to identify them among their unaffected, green neighbors of other species. 

These black locust trees are attacked every year by the locust leafminer. The larva of this pest tunnels between the layers of the leaf, which is where it gets its name. The adult feeds on the leaves as well, turning the leaves completely brown and dead by early to mid-August. 

Surprisingly, the trees leaf back out again the following spring as if nothing happened. It must be because the damage occurs late enough in the summer that the trees can afford to lose their leaves. These beetles feed only on black locusts, so you don’t have to worry about them attacking any other type of tree.

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Cornell Cooperative Extension