Who’s been eating my mint?

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So a week or so ago I started noticing some huge holes on the mint leaves. Obviously something was eating them but I didn’t see any bugs crawling around.  However, as soon as I started checking underneath the leaves I spotted this guy getting his snack on.  After I found out what I was looking for I ran across a few more of his friends  (must have been a group lunch). 

He’s kinda cute in that not-icky-inch-worm way however this is not personal, its business and its either him or my apple mint.  So he and his friends are now in a better place  (neighbor’s backyard) and my mint is no longer the daily special.

Attack of the Squash Vine Borer

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After a light attack of spider mites the mini squash plant bounced back and it was on the mend. Then one morning I walked out and all the green leaves started wilting.  I thought it was the hot Texas heat but the next day it looked worse.   Coming out of holes at the base of some stems was this yellowish tan dirt  and after a quick perusal through my garden pest book, the culprit turned out to be… the evil Squash Vine Borer.

Here is a quick synopsis of the Squash Vine Borer: It starts as eggs near the base of the plant and when they hatch the larvae move in to the stem. They stay there making themselves all cozy for 4 to 6 weeks  eating and then go back into the soil to pupate. They live there throughout the winter  then emerge as a ugly wasp like moths (you can Google it if you want to see pictures of them).

What to Do: If you are already seeing the sawdust like stuff coming out of the stem and the plant is wilting then its too late to do any prevention.  You can try getting the worm out by cutting the stem and finding it and removing it then cover the exposed stem with dirt  (or so I read, it sounds pretty tricky though).   I just said the heck with it and ended up cutting off the dead stems and checked the rest out for signs.  Then I sprayed the soil with some organic pesticide just to make sure I got all the eggs.   Then when the growing season is over with I will toss out the top few inches of soil to make sure I got ride of the pupating ones.

How to Prevent: Here is some tips on how to prevent them.  I haven’t tried any of these but am planning to next year.

  • Wrapping the bottom stems with nylon hose  Source
  • Cover the soil  around the plant with newspaper there by preventing the bug from laying eggs
  • Using Yellow trap pans  Source
  • Wiping the leaves and stems down with insecticidal soap about once a week  Source
  • Or this guy in this youtube video uses left over cardboard toilet paper rolls as a preventative technique.   Squash Vine Borer Prevention
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