The Great Bean Beetle War of 2016: A Conflict in Two Parts (So Far)
If you’ve read many of these posts, you probably know I do some vegetable gardening, specifically organic gardening. One of the trade-offs with organic gardening is that in return for not poisoning your garden with herbicides and pesticides, you have to deal with attacks from some of the animals that would otherwise be, well, poisoned.
With a smaller garden like ours, the main solution is to pay attention and hand pick any of the wee beasties before they become a problem. And that’s what I usually do, with pretty good success.
For some reason, this year was a little bit different.
Part One: Attack OF the Bean Beetles
There are many common garden pests that love feasting on your fresh, organic vegetables, and one of the most common, a very reliable visitor every year, is the bean beetle. When mature, they look deceptively like the extremely beneficial ladybug, without the two white marks on the head.
I see these suckers every year, if not them, their damage. Mostly they’ll skeletonize the leaves of your bean plants and take a little bite or two out of your beans. No biggie, I cut the bites out, look for them (on the underside of the leaves) and squish them if I find them. A little damage is no big deal.
Well apparently the word got out that if you eat MY beans, you won’t get sprayed, and everyone came to the party. I noticed the damage early, and didn’t worry too much; checked the plants, couldn’t find them, and went about my business.
And then, before I knew, my plants were decimated. You see, enough damage and your plants will start to produce less, and if enough of the beetles show up, they’ll take enough bites of your beans to make them unusable. And this is just what happened to me: enough damage and lost productivity from my plants that it was time to take a more aggressive approach.
Part 2: Attack ON the Bean Beetles
As I mentioned above, I had not been completely complacent during this attack, but had been largely unsuccessful in finding and destroying the beetles attacking my plants. I was a bit confused by this as I had been out early in the morning, at what I thought would have been prime feeding time, but rarely saw any of the beetles that I knew were around causing havoc.
But things changed last Wednesday.
That’s right, the start of school led to my first wildly successful counterattack. Why, you ask? Well I’ll tell you: apparently bean beetles are lazy.
You see, during the summer instead of sleeping later like any sane person, my body decided I should still be awake around 6/6:30, and in the heat of the summer it made sense to go straight out to the garden and do what needed to be done: weeding, reaping and searching for pests to destroy.
But with the start of school the 6:00 – 7:00 hour is spent getting the family fed and boy out the door on time. Plus that meant I had no excuse not to go up to the third floor to exercise. So I didn’t get out into the garden until around 7:45.
And lo and behold, apparently that’s about when the bean beetles get out into the garden as well. Lazy bums.
So last Wednesday I had a grand old massacre, picking them off the plants, shaking them off the plants and killing them on the ground, and generally taking my revenge for the six weeks of running free they’d had.
Future days saw additional though lowered numbers to be killed, and while the damage to the plants and beans doesn’t seem to have abated yet, I’m hoping the next round of set beans will show the success of my counter-attack.
I’ll let you know in a week or two.