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Monday, May 2, 2016

Gardening issues: Insects, wildlife

Thursday, June 16, 2011

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As summer rolls on more and more gardening problems will arise.

The problems I would like to focus on in this week's column deal with moveable pests. Those pests can be insects, wildlife and neighborhood pets.

Insects can damage plants in a number of ways, including eating the foliage, boring into the stem, sucking plant juices and attacking the fruit.

The type of damage that occurs is an indication of what insect is the culprit. If the leaves of the plant have holes chewed in them, you are most likely looking for an insect that has chewing mouthparts, such as beetles, wasps, sawflies, moths, butterflies and grasshoppers.

Some insects have piercing mouth parts and will cause sucking injury.

Aphids are an example of that type of insect. There are also insects that bore into wood, such as the longhorned beetle.

Not all insects are bad, though. Some are naturally occurring predators and will help eliminate or control the insects that are attacking your plants. You should try to avoid using any pesticide when you have naturally occurring predators around as it will kill them along with the unwanted pests.

As assassin bug is a naturally occurring predator that can be found around Clay and Owen counties that helps control problem insects such as aphids, Colorado potato beetle, and Japanese beetles.

Insects can be a problem in a garden and be difficult to control, but wildlife can cause problems, too.

Often, you won't even see the wildlife destroying your plants as they will wreak havoc at night by eating, trampling or digging up your plant.

You can identify the wildlife causing the problem by looking at the type of damage that has occurred. In the case of birds, you will notice seeds and seedlings suddenly disappearing or fruit with holes pecked into them.

Raccoons, on the other hand, will bend down stalks of corn or break holes into watermelons.

Once they create the hole, they will then scoop out the inside of the watermelon, leaving the rind mostly intact.

It can be somewhat difficult to distinguish the damage caused by rabbits from those caused by deer. However, through close inspection, you can successfully tell the difference.

Rabbits will leave a smooth, clean cut that is at a 45-degree angle. Deer, on the other hand, will cause a ragged edge to appear.

The difference is because rabbits have sharp upper and lower incisors while deer only have lower incisors.

Hopefully throughout the coming months, you will not be bothered with too many gardening pests and will have a bountiful harvest.

If you have any questions about gardening, plant diseases, agriculture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* June 25 -- Discovering Your Watershed: Griffy Lake (Education Canoe Trip), Bloomington. Register by June 17 at www.bloomington.in.gov/parks. Cost $12,

* June 28 -- Clay County Extension Homemaker's Achievement Program, and

* June 29 -- Owen County Extension Homemaker's Achievement Program.