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Pest Control
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Hornworms
Handpick hornworms to control them – if you are very observant and diligent. Otherwise, apply a Bt insecticide. Jean English photo for the Summer 2009 Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.


Articles

Arboviral diseases are transmitted by arthropod vectors such as mosquitoes and include Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). Because EEE and WNV have been detected in Maine, the Maine Legislature directed the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (MDACF) and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to develop a plan for protecting the public health from arboviral diseases.

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Sometimes it is better to be prepared for bad news then to be surprised by it. This chart prepares growers for some of the most common vegetable problems seen in Maine.

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Japanese beetlesLast year I used Crocker's Fish Oil as a spreader-sticker in a pyrethrin-based spray to control Japanese beetles. Wondering whether the oil alone might have controlled the beetle, I sprayed my pole beans in 2011 with only a Crocker's-based spray.

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Male spotted wing DrosophilaI am usually not an alarmist. When local newspapers pick up stories about crops ruined by weather or pests, my initial reaction is usually, “Here they go again, sensationalizing stories to sell newspapers.” Once in a while, though, I am as nervous as the media, and this is one of those times. The spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is just the kind of threat that all of us who grow soft fruit need to notice.

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The New York Times reports that Mark Van Horn, director of the student farm at the University of California, Davis, grows wild (rather than domesticated) sunflowers around a tomato and sweet corn field as habitat for lady beetles and parasitic wasps.

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Geranium flowers (Pelargonium zonale, synonym P. x hortorum) are hazardous to Japanese beetles. Within 30 minutes of consuming the petals, the beetle rolls over on its back, its legs and antennae slowly twitch, and it remains paralyzed for several hours.

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HornwormsDoes summertime bode many afternoon hours in the hammock thinking about what's good in the garden to go with that hamburger hot off the grill – or hours of worrying what could go wrong in that garden, which looks so good this early in the season? Balancing fun with fret is key to a long life and a good garden. Knowing about and preparing for common problems that could decimate favorite crops is one way to minimize the fretting.

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Resource GuideLast year those of us who wrote the Resource Guide to Organic Insect and Disease Management received a new SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant to do an updated, second edition.

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Article in downloadable newsletter from Southern SARE.

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When our homes fill with the bountiful harvest of tomatoes, melons and tree fruit in late summer and in fall, large populations of fruit flies become very noticeable, quickly covering any piece of fruit left out.

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Carrot rust flyI have lived in the same house in Greene, Maine, for over 20 years, and the carrot rust fly has been a problem only one of those years. But it was awful that one year, and while I was discarding carrot after carrot from the root cellar that winter, I kept thinking that a commercial carrot grower would be down one customer if he or she sold such carrots to somebody.

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A bacterium called Chromobacterium subtsugae that is toxic to Colorado potato beetle larvae is also toxic in varying degrees to gypsy moth, small hive beetle and tobacco hornworm, according to preliminary studies.

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Jim Koan, owner of the 150-acre AlMar Orchards in Clayton Township, Michigan, grazes Berkshire hogs in his organic apple orchard, obtaining almost complete control of plum curculio within a few years.

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The Best Control 2 reference manual is a free, online guide to IPM for controlling household pests.

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The Maine Department of Agriculture surveyed 12 farms in eight Maine counties for eight exotic pests last year. Fortunately, none are known to be established in Maine yet.

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Manage Insects on Your Farm highlights ecological strategies that improve your farm's natural defenses and encourage beneficial insects to attack your worst pests. 

Learn principles of ecologically based pest management and strategies of farmers around the world to address insect problems.

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The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) has a pest management primer for farmers called Manage Insects on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies.

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Eric Sideman: I was part of the team that put together this new book that discusses the latest information on organic pest and disease management of vegetable crops.

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By Eric Sideman – I was part of the team that put together this new book that discusses the latest information on organic pest and disease management of vegetable crops. It is divided into two main sections, one covering the pests of crop families and the cultural practices and recommended materials to manage them; and the other detailing the materials themselves.

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Squash bugFall chores are my favorites. At no other time do I have more hope for a successful garden than the fall before. Autumn is even better than spring, especially last spring when we all realized very early in April that it was not going to be the best year. Many hopes were dashed last spring before the ground was dry enough to till. Fall chores, on the other hand, not only hold high hope for future harvests, but those enjoyable fall chores can add greatly to the likelihood of avoiding a few pests and diseases next year.

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Two percent mint oil on peanut shells killed confined fire ants in lab tests and, when applied over fire ant mounds outdoors, caused ants to leave the mounds and build satellite nests within two days.

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According to Coast of Maine, which produced a Fermented Salmon product for feeding plants, this brew, applied every four weeks or so, repelled deer and rabbits very effectively, and customers reported that it worked on woodchucks and other four-legged herbivores.

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Garlic repels more than just vampires. Scientists have discovered that garlic oil can be a nontoxic, environmentally friendly starling repellent. Neither crops nor birds are harmed by the product, while farmers achieve higher crop yields. In contrast, current bird repellents are toxic and persist in the environment.

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In the fall I attended the 100th anniversary, annual meeting of the American Society for Horticultural Sciences in Providence, Rhode Island. The ASHS has a good mix of members representing university researchers, Extension educators and industry who study all aspects of crop production. The reports covered very basic plant science to practical aspects of farming.

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Silverleaf whiteflyThis article discusses many lower toxicity pest control measures, including biological controls. The key to using biologicals successfully is to monitor your greenhouse regularly to detect and correctly identify pests and to introduce the correct biological control agent before large numbers of pests are present.

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Tarnished plant bugThe causes of some garden tragedies are obvious, while other causes are mysterious. When Colorado potato beetles eat every leaf and your potatoes never get larger than golf balls, there really is no puzzle to solve. But sometimes gardeners don’t know what went wrong, and they chalk some problems up to a bad season, when a tiny insect or hidden disease actually caused the problems.

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Michael ZuckMichael Zuck’s fascination with nature’s multiple interactions, combined with the fact that his wife developed severe multiple chemical sensitivity a few years ago, are polar but complementary forces that have made Zuck pursue biological pest control with determination.

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Toki Oshima drawingI can understand farmers who tell me they’re tired of hearing about the new USDA Rule and the regulation of organic vegetable production. I have said many times that the new rule is really 99% similar to MOFGA’s old standards, and I still claim that. Then why am I still writing articles about it? Because this is the time of year when we farmers are spending these very cold days leafing through catalogs and ordering seed and materials for meeting our dreams of glorious vegetable production only a season away.

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Link to the website of The Green Spot, Ltd., of Nottingham, N.H.

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Fruit flies can proliferate in the summer as more and more produce is brought into the home. They may be seen hovering around over-ripe fruits and vegetables, baked goods containing yeast, garbage cans and incompletely rinsed bottles, mops, dishcloths, drainwater in refrigerators, or sink drains.

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Caffeine can repel or kill snails that might otherwise eat and ruin plants, Agricultural Research Service scientists report in the June 27, 2002, issue of the journal Nature.

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Cayenne pepper, a popular spice for flavoring food, is known for its heat-producing properties from the substance capsaicin. Agricultural Research Service scientists also have found that cayenne peppers contain another potent substance in the saponin chemical family that kills several noxious fungi and yeasts.

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The Colorado potato larva is notorious for its destructive power, each year ravaging potato, eggplant and tomato plants and costing growers $150 million in crop losses and insecticide-related costs. This pest is also notorious for its ability to develop resistance to insecticides. Because of this, biocontrol – using one natural organism to control another – becomes a viable option.

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Taking the time to walk in your woods can reduce damage from gypsy moths. If egg masses are becoming more evident each year, or if noticeable defoliation is occurring, moderate to heavy tree harvesting should be avoided until gypsy moth populations diminish and trees have had a chance to recover.

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Over the years I have tried various deer repellents, with poor long-term results. It is hard to frighten deer away from tasty morsels for very long. At first look, predator’s urine, such as coyote urine, seems to make sense, but after seeing coyotes catching mice and grasshoppers in the same field with deer eating clover, I started to have doubts about its effectiveness.

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• Asian Longhorned Beetle a Potential Threat
• Grants Target Weed Control
• Can Bug Zappers Spread Disease?
• Deterrent Urine – Cruel Collection?

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Greenhouse whitefly adults and eggs are moderately winter hardy and may survive on weeds and residues in and around the greenhouse. Sanitation is the key to preventing reinfestation.

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