I grow black eyed peas in my garden. The beetle cowpea curculio became a real problem this past year. I have tried marigolds and a couple of other plants but none seem to help. Can you help me get rid of this little booger?
From what I can learn, this pest has even become resistant to two classes of pesticides, and has taken field peas off the map for Georgia. For more information, check out the University of Georgia’s South Georgia Crop News blog.
Late planting is highly recommended as a defensive strategy. Peas that don’t bloom and set pods until September often escape damage.
Cowpea curculios drop to the ground and play dead when disturbed. You can capitalize on this behavior by placing open pizza boxes beneath plants, shaking out the bugs, and pouring them into a bucket of soapy water.
It is likely that poultry or bird predation might really help, too. Placing numerous 4- to 5-foot stakes among the plantings will attract wild insect eaters; they will perch on the stakes looking for movement in surrounding vegetation. But as with ticks, free-range chickens may be the ultimate answer.
That’s about it. Research is ongoing, and control might end up being a fungal parasite.