Hate bugs? I’m sorry, but these pesky creatures turned my stomach and my garden when I discovered them a couple of years ago. The final straw was their all out attack on my tree collards. It was a sad day when my nostrils were assaulted by the strong smell of collard green juices and more disheartening, I knew why. I approached my beloved tree collard and there they were, clustered, on every branch, stalk, leaf, everywhere and they were sucking the living daylights out of that plant. That was it for me.
This invasive species is called the Bragada Bug or Painted Bug. They are from Africa and somehow they made their way to the U.S. and have been eating their way through gardens ever since. They have a voracious appetite and a love for cruciferous plants, which is everything I love. They started with my kale, moved on to the brussel sprouts, broccoli, turnips, arugula, bok choi, cabbage, and finally my beautiful tree collards.
According to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona, “Brassicaceae have been more heavily affected in home gardens.” No kidding. They also note these evil bugs will also go off-diet to scrounge around the garden to see what else is on the menu, like tomatoes. My heart dropped when I found them on my Cherokee Purple tomatoes. Not good.
They weren’t the only ones I found in my garden, I also came across a large slug one evening hanging onto one of the drip irrigation devices. I have not seen a slug in these parts in a very long time but, there he was, sucking up water. I believe he and his buddies were responsible for eating the leaves of my cucumber plants. The first couple of years I had wonderful cucumbers, after that, stems. Oh yes, the crime always occurred at night.
It seems the only way to deal with these critters is to “manage” them, like I have time for that. Management requires hand picking them early in the season, monitoring weekly for egg-laying sites, cultivating the soil to destroy eggs, and finally, using a soapy water solution to wash them from the plants. Supposedly, some die after an application of this but, when the plant dries, you guessed it, they return. I tried that and was disheartened to see them return.
My garden is dormant now. I have taken some time off to research these bugs and find a way to grow my favorite veggies to feed myself, not them. I will return to my garden but I’m not quite sure what I will do. I am considering hydroponics but I will need it outside, not in the house.
What they did to my tree collard was horrible and I’m out for revenge. I’ll come up with something but, until then, it will stay dormant and hopefully, hopefully, there are no eggs in the ground. Next spring, I hope to have a small fortress for my plants. If that works, I will spread the fortress until I’m back to what I had. I’m tired, I’m over it and it was so good while it lasted.
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