Update: Using Row Covers for Insect Control

Near perfection! This is a Japanese variety called Orient Charm.

Near perfection! This is a Japanese variety called Orient Charm.

On June 3rd I wrote about my experiment with row covers to control insects, particularly flea beetles on my eggplants and squash vine borers on the zucchini.   I can now report on how successful this project was.  First the good news:  The eggplants are completely free of the ravages of flea beetles.  I took off the row cover when they began to flower and I now have lovely, glistening, lavender fruit in abundance and healthy leaves.  It seems I can defeat the beetles, which have an early life cycle, by using row covers.

The frass deposit at the tip of the orange paper clip shows where the hole is. There may be more than one. Probe with a wire to destroy the larvae.

The frass deposit at the tip of the orange paper clip shows where the hole is. There may be more than one. Probe with a wire to destroy the larvae.

The news on the zucchini is not so good.  Yesterday I noticed the zucchini was partially wilted when we came home from a week in Maine.  In addition to the row covers (which I removed when the plants began to blossom) I had been massaging the stems every morning in hopes of removing egg deposits and had tried putting tin foil under the stems as suggested in a response to the original post.  An examination of the stems showed vine borer frass (larva excrement).  I am trying my fall back intensive care treatment in hopes of saving the plants.  First I unfurled a paper clip and probed the hole to try and kill the larvae inside the stem.  I worked it back and forth wherever I felt a passageway.  I then hilled up the stem with fresh earth as these plants will root along the stem.  Clearly the squash vine borers are active after the plants begin flowering so it seems row covers are ineffective for them.  Stay tuned…

UPDATE:  August 22nd –  The hilling up has worked.  I caught the damage in time.  The plants have rooted along the stems and have begun to bear again.  I see no indications of new damage at the base of the new growth.

I then hilled up the stems with fresh soil so the plants could send down new roots.

I then hilled up the stems with fresh soil so the plants could send down new roots.

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