Pest Management

How to Manage the Most Common Pests for Peas Organically in Your Backyard Vegetable Garden

Peas pests header

You won’t be able to truly appreciate peas until you’ve had fresh Sugar Snap peas from the vine. These peas are extremely prolific and typically give us more than we can handle in a season. Because of the versatility of peas in cooking, everyone should be able to find a way to enjoy this vegetable! Peas can be attacked by a variety of different pests, but can be managed easily with organic methods.

cabbageloopers-header
The cabbage looper is the caterpillar of a grayish moth with a silver spot in the middle of each wing. You can distinguish them from the cabbage worm by looking for 4 white stripes running down the body. The eggs are dome-shaped, light green, and are laid on the underside of the leaves.

Treatment Options:

  • Hand-pick (or pay your kids a quarter each to handpick for you like we do!)
  • Cover the plants with insect netting (floating row covers) from when they are babies. This will help to prevent them from becoming an issue!
  • Use the organic pesticide, BTK (bacillus thuringiensis Kurstaki). BTK is a naturally occuring microorganism that sickens and kills caterpillars without harming butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. There are varied opinions regarding the safety of BTK, but it’s classified as an organic treatment and is certainly safer than using a more toxic pesticide.
cornborer-header
Corn borers are the caterpillar of a yellowish-brown moth with dark, wavy bands across the wings. The borer usually has a bit of a pale pink color. The eggs are whitish-yellow and laid in clusters on the underside of the leaves.

Treatment Options:

  • Use the organic pesticide, BTK (bacillus thuringiensis Kurstaki). BTK is a naturally occurring microorganism that sickens and kills caterpillars without harming butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. There are varied opinions regarding the safety of BTK, but it’s classified as an organic treatment and is certainly safer than using a more toxic pesticide.
  • Beneficial insects such as trichogramma wasps, lady bugs, and lacewings can help to fight against the corn borer eggs.
cucumberbeetles-header

Cucumber beetles look similar to ladybugs. They can either be spotted or striped with yellow and black coloring. The adults feed on stems, foliage, and flowers. The larvae weaken the plant by feeding on the roots. They also spread bacterial wilt and squash mosaic virus. Cucumber beetles can be extremely difficult to control. Make sure to stay on top of them before they get too bad!

Treatment Options:

cutworms-header
Cutworms are the caterpillar of a brown or gray night-flying moth. The caterpillars are black, gray, or brown and are about an inch and a half long. These jerks can go through your entire garden of new seedlings extremely quickly! It’s important to watch out for them in your garden and do your best to protect again them. They look like little brown worms, and they like to spin around into circles around the plant, cutting it off at the base.

Treatment Options:

  • Cover the plants with insect netting (floating row covers) from when they are babies. This will help to prevent them from becoming an issue!
  • Cardboard “collars” can be made from toilet rolls or paper towel rolls and placed around each seedling to keep these cutworms out. You can also place toothpicks around seedlings so the worm cannot wrap around the stem.
  • Diatomaceous earth can also be laid down around your seedlings to help get rid of them.
  • Sprinkling coffee grounds or crumbled egg shells can help repel them from your seedlings as well.
gophers-header
These small rodents can create quite a challenge in your garden. They create tunneling systems and eat roots along with shrubs and vegetables.

Treatment Options:

  • Cats & dogs are effective hunters of gophers, mice, and other small rodents!
  • Flooding the tunnels with water can be effective.
  • The gopher hawk is a reusable trap that’s very effective and doesn’t use any chemicals or poisons!
  • The Victor Black Box is a reusable trap that’s very effective and doesn’t use any chemicals or poisons!
  • You can cover the bottom of your raised bed with hardware mesh to help keep gophers from tunneling into them.
  • Solar-powered sonic repellers can also be effective. They create an uncomfortable environment for the gopher by emitting vibrations and sounds into the ground periodically.
mexicanbeanbeetles-header
Mexican bean beetles look very similar to ladybugs. They have a tan back with black dots, and the younger ones do not have any spots. If left unchecked, they can destroy foliage and pods.

Treatment Options:

  • Hand-picking and placing the beetle in a soapy water bucket is a great way to get rid of them.
  • Companion planting potatoes can help prevent Mexican bean beetles.
  • Placing insect netting (floating row covers) over your plants is a great way to prevent insect issues.
  • Beneficial insects such as green lacewings, ladybugs, and praying mantis can be helpful to fight these beetle’s eggs and larvae.
  • Yellow sticky traps have also been shown to be effective at catching these pests.
  • Applying beneficial nematodes and neem oil can also be effective. Make sure not to apply the neem oil when the temperature is above 90, or else you could suffocate your plant!
rabbits-header
While we love having our pet rabbit to help with making free fertilizer, wild rabbits can be quite troublesome for your garden. These small mammals like to eat a lot of your greens and can be tricky to manage once they know where the food is. It is important to keep them out of your garden to protect your food!

Treatment Options:

raccoons-header
Raccoons are huge corn-lovers, and they will destroy the corn in your garden in a hurry. Keeping them out of your garden is imperative to protecting your corn.

Treatment Options:

  • Placing a motion-activated sprinkler near where the problem area is will help to scare the raccoons away.
  • Raccoons are scared of larger predators. Applying blood meal around the perimeter of your garden has been shown to deter small mammals. Raccoon repellent, fox urine granules, or even human hair and urine can help to deter them as well.
  • Raccoons can be scared of noises as well. You can leave a radio close to the problem area to try and scare them away.
  • They can also be deterred by a mixture of garlic and chili powder sprinkled around the problem areas.
  • You can also set up a small animal cage trap to catch the raccoon if all else fails!
rootmaggots-header
There are many species of root maggots. Root maggots come from dark green-black fly that look like small houseflies. These flies lay their eggs in the roots of your plants. These maggots are very small, yellow-white larvae with pointed heads. They feed upon the roots causing stunted growth, deformities, and could lead to death of the plant. Treatment can vary depending upon the type of fly that lays their eggs, but there are many organic ways to control all of these root maggots.

Treatment Options:

  • Creating a “collar” for the plant made from a toilet roll or paper towel roll can be beneficial as well to help keep the fly away from the base of the plant.
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth over areas you want to protect. Be careful though: DE can harm beneficial insects as well if they come in contact with it.
  • Cover the plants with insect netting (floating row covers) from when they are babies. This will help to prevent them from becoming an issue!
  • Yellow sticky traps can also work to catch these flies so they cannot lay their eggs to become maggots.

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