Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Scourge of the Stalk Borer

Last summer I had problems with stalk borers in my corn patch. In fact, they killed or stunted most of the plants. But that was trivial when compared to the problems I've had with them this year.

The stalk borer is an ugly, brownish striped worm (actually a caterpillar). It eats a hole in the stem of a plant and bores down or up in the center of the stalk. Thus the name. Then the plant either withers and dies, loses branches, or is weakened enough that any little wind will break it off. Apparently, they are the larvae of a little gray moth, which I have yet to spot. I expect that I'll be seeing quite a few of them in the next month or so when the caterpillars are supposed to be maturing. (photo and more information found on this page)

This year I've found them in my peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillo, beans, corn, and zinnias. One killed the center of my new gaillardia plant. Basically, they seem to attack any plant with a thick stem.

I've tried manually picking them out and squashing them. I've tried spraying them. But I haven't gotten anywhere near all of them. Luckily, once plants are more mature, they can handle the damage better and don't show as much stress from the little beasties. Now I'm looking for ways to limit the numbers of them that invade my garden next year. According to what I've read, they winter over in tall grass and ragweed. I"m mowing EVERYTHING this fall.

Anyone else have any good solutions to this problem? I'm all ears.

1 comment:

  1. UGH! Maybe these guys are why my beans are looking a little funky. :(