Can't You Just Spray?


| 7/7/2011 4:49:04 PM


Tags: pests, organic gardening, raspberries, scarabs, Cam Mather,


scarab on raspberry

This was the question that my neighbor Ken asked me recently. I had just told him about the bugs eating my berries. “Can’t you just spray?”

So how’d you spend your weekend? Road trip? Shopping? Reading at the coffee shop? I spent a recent weekend here on my knees cutting garlic scapes and squashing bugs. And I mean a lot of bugs. Not that I’m complaining. It’s just an observation on how humans have so many choices available to them. I love my choice of living in the country and trying to generate an income growing good organically.
 

This can be a very discouraging proposition. Early in the season I am overrun with cutworms, a caterpillar that lives just below the soil surface and takes out plants when they are small and vulnerable. In many years they have completely decimated certain crops. This year I had about the usual amount of damage, which I’ve grown accustomed to.
 

Each year something new always comes along to keep things interesting. Last year our raspberries did fabulously well with very few pests. This gives you a cocky sense of complacency. “Oh raspberries? They’re so easy to grow organically!” NOT! Well not this year anyway. I have an unholy pestilence of “scarabs” this year and they are trashing my berry plants in big numbers. I first noticed them on my blueberries. My beautiful blueberries with lush green, shiny leaves. I was watering and noticed some of the leaves were damaged. Upon closer examination I noticed the scarabs. 

damage
 

Scarabs are nasty little pests that will take out the berry flowers and young fruit, or just chew on leaves. You can see in the photos what a leaf looks like after the scarabs have chewed on it. While it may look like a lovely lace pattern, this damage severely restricts the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and convert that wonderful sunlight into energy to be used in the biomass of the plant. Left long enough they’ll denude the whole plant and it’s game over.
 




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