Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bag Those Bugs

Uh oh! It was truly a bug infestation to give me the creeps. I can safely take one insect at a time. In fact, I’ll pick up one insect to examine it, finding its mysteries fascinating. That comes to an end when bugs come in multitudes.

Take those creepy crawlers I found on my cucumber plants yesterday, for example. They looked somewhat like half-inch yellow porcupines. Too many too count, those yellow “buggers” made my skin crawl. I’m not sure yet exactly what kind of bugs they were because my quick browsing of Google revealed every yellow bug known to man – except, of course, the ones on my cucumber plants. I’m sure it’s my web-browsing skills rather than my discovery of a yet-undiscovered yellow insect.

Anyway, I found those bugs when picking a particularly nice and plump cucumber. I noticed that all of the leaves on that plant from a certain point downward (my plants climb up a fence) had lacy leaves, not unlike something that could be found on a bride’s veil, instead of green leaves. Those yellow bugs, who obviously like organic greens, were taking away my cucumber plant’s photosynthesizing ability. I was horrified.

I thought back in disappointment at an encounter I had with bugs last year on my horseradish plants. Somewhere I had read that, to kill those plant pests, all I needed to do was immerse then in a soap solution. I thought that was simple enough until I put that idea into practice. In reality what happened was that the bugs, after having been immersed in a soap solution contained in a plastic basin, simply swam to the edge of the basin and crawled out. They had finished their refreshing bath, found themselves clean once again, and were coming out to sun themselves dry. En masse. I was totally creeped out.

That was not going to be my solution (pun somewhat intended) this year. My attack would be more direct. I was going to take those unwanted guests completely out of my garden. Armed with scissors and a plastic bag, I began to cut off all the leaves hosting bugs on their undersides. I did this surreptitiously so that the bugs would not notice. Into the bag went all those bugs still attached to their current leaf dinners. After capturing all I could find, I tied the bag tightly and tossed the bag into the trash. I wonder if those insects knew they were headed on sort of a bug vacation? Bye, guys!

Editor's Note: I've subsequently identified those bugs as the larva of the Mexican Bean Beetle thanks to an identifying diagram in Crockett's Victory Garden (1977: Little Brown and Company).

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