Author Topic: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars  (Read 510 times)

Satya

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Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« on: April 21, 2022, 09:38:24 AM »
I'm really tired of checking my cucumber and other cucurbit vines every day and finding more and more damaged ones from within. Birds and possums are great but they are just not smart enough to dig inside the plant  :o . Leaf rollers, pickleworms - so hard to protect the plants from them without chemicals.
Have you tried releasing any predatory species of beetles? I read that calasoma species is called "caterpillar hunter" or "caterpillar searcher" which gives lots of hope  ;D

Galatians522

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2022, 10:07:10 PM »
Sounds like we are battling the same pest. I have them on my squash every year and have vowed to win this time. Here are several thougts for you. I have seen some improvement after spraying with bacillus thuringiensis 3 days ago, but it has not totally solved the problem. BT, by the way, is certified organic. It is a strain of bacteria that specifically targets caterpillars (but won't harm bees). They die in a couple days after eating treated plant material. It is totally inert to people (although some people can have an alergic reaction to the liquid spray). It works wonders on the southern army worms that hit my tomatoes, but I think the pickle worms are somewhat protected by being inside the fruit so it is not quite as effective. I would say that it knocked out about half of them or more, though. The Thuricide brand is sold at Home Depot.

Hoping for a better solution, I called a friend who used to grow squash commercially. He told me that spraying with Oxidate (basically a high powered Hydrogen Peroxide if you aren't familiar with it) or even a 2% bleach solution helps. Apparently, the scent repells the moths when they come to lay the eggs? Or maybe it masks the plant smell that they use to target their host? Either way, he says that it works, so I will try it. He has never let me down before. Plus, both products help reduce mildew and mold on the leaves so its like killing two birds with one stone.

Finally, if you want to be completely free of them without spraying anything you could always build a screen house. The moths are pretty big so even the screen sold for porches will keep them out. The only issue with this, though, is that you have to hand pollinate or try to uncover later in the morning after the moths have gone back to bed but the bees are awake. I guess some people just drape the screen over the squash without much of a frame.

Satya

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2022, 02:45:08 PM »
Thank you Galatians522. I've used BT for many years but am tired of running around with a bottle  ;D  so wanted the garden to take care of itself. Had a bad whitefly infestation from neighbor's ixora wall, introduced predatory mites and the problem disappeared. I hear people do crazy stuff trying to battle whiteflies for years, all it took me was a $83 tube of arachnids. Same thing with predatory nematodes, my overall pest load is much less now, tons of beneficials though. Tomatoes are completely left alone this year, i was preparing for the worse but they didn't give me any trouble at all.
That's why i'm trying to find bio control for whatever pest possible, after all, they are part of the food chain, feeding someone... we just have to find that someone :)

Galatians522

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2022, 11:03:35 PM »
Well, if you find what works, let me know.  8)

Satya

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2022, 09:01:45 AM »
Well, if you find what works, let me know.  8)
haha sure. Always on the lookout 🧐

Galatians522

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2022, 03:36:51 PM »
So this is a little bit out there, but have you thought about ants? I have noticed that the flowers that have ants in them never have pickle worms. I believe that the little black ants I see are what they call Crazy Ants. A quick search turned up this study which indicates that crazy ants, fire ants, and army ants  are the top predator for pickle worms in Brazil.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/230135984.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjxyfKK7qr3AhXTTjABHRiICFgQFnoECAkQAQ&usg=AOvVaw3xvTFLkF8zgJUYDxaeynMT

Of the above species, the crazy ant is probably the least harmful to humans (I don't really care to be attacked by fire ants while picking my squash  :-\). However, there is the risk that they would start farming scale or aphids. They have not done that on mine, yet.

1rainman

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2022, 10:26:17 AM »
Just get some pieces of screen and cover the plant wherever you can along with all other methods. This protects from most insects and animals. No need to build a structure. Tobacco plants will kill any insect that tries to eat it. Nicotine is a highly potent insecticide that has low toxicity in humans or animals, though just plant it around your other plants you won't be consuming it. Neem oil is also natural with high toxicity to bugs but low for humans. Just don't spray around harvest time. Give it a week or two to dissipate.

Tobacco shouldn't impact predators much unless they are directly on the plant or eating it themselves.  Native Americans primarily planted it as an insecticide.

Francis_Eric

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2022, 01:20:44 PM »
I'm really tired of checking my cucumber and other cucurbit vines every day and finding more and more damaged ones from within. Birds and possums are great but they are just not smart enough to dig inside the plant  :o . Leaf rollers, pickleworms - so hard to protect the plants from them without chemicals.
Have you tried releasing any predatory species of beetles? I read that calasoma species is called "caterpillar hunter" or "caterpillar searcher" which gives lots of hope  ;D

Satya have you got a Butterfly garden or  thought of having one

Soldier fly likes golden rod (also liked eating rollie pollie on mushrooms like Puff ball see link)
As well as Blue winged wasp

A few Idea's here after searching parasitoid (on below link)

I have saw these Soldier flies on my Goldenrod

https://bygl.osu.edu/index.php/node/1177

Satya

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2022, 11:29:57 AM »
Just get some pieces of screen and cover the plant wherever you can along with all other methods. This protects from most insects and animals. No need to build a structure. Tobacco plants will kill any insect that tries to eat it. Nicotine is a highly potent insecticide that has low toxicity in humans or animals, though just plant it around your other plants you won't be consuming it. Neem oil is also natural with high toxicity to bugs but low for humans. Just don't spray around harvest time. Give it a week or two to dissipate.

Tobacco shouldn't impact predators much unless they are directly on the plant or eating it themselves.  Native Americans primarily planted it as an insecticide.
My cucumbers are growing on above-head arches, impossible to do the screens. i'm looking for biological control, when the garden will take care of itself. this "along other methods" is what's bothering me the most, I don't want to have methods other than soil health and predation. Physical barriers or constant sprays aren't the answer for me because i'm lazy  ;D

Satya

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Re: Carabids to fight those hidden caterpillars
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2022, 11:32:28 AM »
I'm really tired of checking my cucumber and other cucurbit vines every day and finding more and more damaged ones from within. Birds and possums are great but they are just not smart enough to dig inside the plant  :o . Leaf rollers, pickleworms - so hard to protect the plants from them without chemicals.
Have you tried releasing any predatory species of beetles? I read that calasoma species is called "caterpillar hunter" or "caterpillar searcher" which gives lots of hope  ;D

Satya have you got a Butterfly garden or  thought of having one

Soldier fly likes golden rod (also liked eating rollie pollie on mushrooms like Puff ball see link)
As well as Blue winged wasp

A few Idea's here after searching parasitoid (on below link)

I have saw these Soldier flies on my Goldenrod

https://bygl.osu.edu/index.php/node/1177
Yes garden is full of flowers - natives and cultivated, huge goldenrods around... full of bees, flies, wasps and what not. I used to have a bad hornworm problem on tomatoes, now i don't see a single one. Tomatoes are surprisingly healthy, but the guys that roll themselves up and bur holes in fruit and stems are another story...

 

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