Bad news on the Pest front. Apparently Meadowwood Garden is now hosting some very healthy populations of Striped Cucumber Beetle and Squash Bug. These bugs cause major devistation in a very short period to the plants they infect. You can see the resulting damage in the photo below.
That Zucchini plant appeared to be perfectly healthy 3 days ago. Literally within 48 hours the leaves turned yellowish and wilted to the ground. The same thing has happened to 6 other Zucchini plants and 1 Honeydew Melon vine so far.
The Striped Cucumber Beetles are small with yellow and black stripes on their back. They have definitely been seen crawling on various vines in the garden over the past week or so. The insidious thing about these beetles is that they are the host for a Bacterial Wilt that causes the plants to die — in addition to the other damage they cause. There is no cure for the bacterial Wilt — once plants are infected they need to be destroyed. According to my research it seems like the only reliable control is applications of Sevin. In order to get a jump on these for next year it looks like further research is necessary.
Squash Bugs are BIG and UGLY! They are almost an inch long! They seem to target adult plants and a secretion in their saliva causes the plants to wilt and die over time. I have seen many of the egg clusters on the undersides of leaves throughout the garden, so my guess is that Squash bugs are responsible for the majority of the damage.
Unfortunately there is little one can do organically to control them. Apparently if you place a board on the ground next to the plants the adults will cluster under it and can be squashed (pun intended) in the mornings. Removal of the eggs will probably help, but there are so may plant leaves to check it seems like an impossible task.
Even pesticides don’t work on these suckers! I read that Sevin will kill the nymphs but the adults are difficult to kill this way.
With both pests early detection is a key to control. Unfortunately this is my first year gardening so I didn’t know what to look for and the result is lost plants, with more likely to be lost in the coming days.