The Q&A Archives: Leaf Damage On Eggplants

Question: The leaves on my eggplants are getting chewed by something. Their are lots of holes on the leaves. I've seen a lot of black bugs with a red line around its body (beatles?). Can you suggest an organic remedy?

Answer: In most gardens there's a balance of beneficial insects and destructive insects. Once a population of bad guys gets established, a crew of good guys usually shows up. Since you're growing organically, you'll probably want the insects to battle it out, with the good guys gaining control. You can encourage beneficials by having something in bloom at all times, and by avoiding the use of pesticides (which will kill good guys as well as bad guys). Even organic (botanically derived) pesticides can harm beneficial insects and should be used only as a last resort. Most pesticides are pest specific, so it's important to positively identify the destructive insects and use a product that targets them and them alone. At this point I'd try to identify the damaging insects. The beetles you describe could be good guys, going after bad guys and may not be damaging the leaves at all. Go out after dark with a flashlight and see if you can determine what's causing the damage. If the feeding is at night, you're dealing with slugs, snails and/or earwigs. You can trap these critters by providing a dark, damp hiding place. Try an upturned terra cotta pot in the garden, propped up with a small stone. The pests will hide inside during the day and you can empty the pot each morning and replace it in the garden. You can also try dampened, rolled up newspaper traps in the garden to lure the bad guys. Simply toss the papers in the garbage each morning and place new traps out in the late afternoon.

Hope these approaches help you control the pests in your garden!

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