Vegetable Garden Leaves - basil & sunflower - Knowledgebase Question

Locust Valley, Ne
Question by krin1771
June 30, 2010
The leaves of our basil and sunflowers are being devoured! I have seen a couple Japanese Beetles (which I've removed and killed in soapy water) and a few aphids - Tried


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Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010

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When entire leaves are being eaten that signals something with chewing mouth parts, such as beetles, caterpillars, hornworms or larger creatures (rabbits, rodents). Aphids have sucking mouth parts to such the juice out of plants. Their damage shows up as pin prick holes or coloration changes. Aphids can be controlled with a strong, daily blast of water from the hose. This might also knock loose the other eaters.

Ladybugs and their larvae are voracious consumers of aphids, which often attack veggies. They often "arrive" a week or two after the aphids, so not spraying with chemicals is a good idea if you'd like to attract them to your garden to consume aphids for you. The insecticidal soaps are made from plant-derived fatty acids and target soft-bodied insects. There's really no way you can target the bad guys without fallout on the good guys. If you can regularly monitor and tolerate some damage to your plants, over time Mother Nature strikes a balance, with the beneficials coming in to control the bad guys. Healthy vigorous plants will withstand insect attacks best, and it's really the best thing you can do to provent insect problems. Check your plants out carefully (you may even need a magnifying glass). Look underneath leaves and along stems for those who camouflage themselves. Write back describing what's eating them, and we can provide you with a more specific answer. Good luck!

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