Let's Get Dirty | All Blogs

Good bugs and disgusting bugs - Warning: graphic photo

By Penny Stine

Normally, I wouldn't be so excited about photos of diseased plants, but I'm thrilled with these.

Yes, these are all photos of the bindweed in various places in my yard - the bindweed doesn't appear to be very healthy.

I picked up a package of bindweed mites from the insectary in Palisade about a month ago and spent an hour one Saturday morning carefully attaching diseased plant material to my healthy bindweed. The mites don't like overhead sprinkling (like most lawn sprinklers), so I was careful to select locations that don't get hit with those types of sprinklers.

Then it rained for two hours that Saturday, and I was afraid my poor little mites got washed away before they could get established.



I've been checking periodically. For a while, I noticed that the bindweed on my tomatillos appeared to have powdery mildew, although none of the garden plants near it did. Then I noticed that some of the bindweed leaves in other places were curling up.




According to the insectary, that's a sign that the plants are now host to a colony of mites. Yay!



The mites will live on, hopefully happily ever after, in my yard and garden. They'll never fully kill the bindweed (because there goes their meal ticket if they do), but they'll keep it in check.
Cool, huh?


What made me realize the mites had gotten established in spite of the rain was this: 

This little miniature rose bush had gotten so choked by the bindweed that it quit blooming. The rose and the sage next to it were totally covered by bindweed when I attached the mites. When I was out in the yard yesterday, I noticed the little red blossoms and realized that both plants looked a lot better and I hadn't done anything to them other than attached the infected bindweed on the back of the plants. 

Next spring and summer, I should be able to pass on infected bindweed to other people who'd like to host a few mites in their gardens.

Oh, while I was out doing my garden stroll, I saw a tomato horn worm! In the dozen or so years I've been growing tomatoes in the Grand Valley, I had never seen one before. 

 It was enormous and disgusting. I should have taken a photo of it, inching up my beautiful Cherokee chocolate tomato plant, but I reacted instinctively and threw it on the ground and stomped it into two oozy little pieces.

When I had collected myself, I went inside for the camera to document the skirmish.

I warned you there was a graphic photo included in this post... 


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You can buy the little buggers directly from the Palisade Insectary. Unfortunately, the insectary keeps regular business hours, M - F only. They charge $35 for a brown paper sack filled with infected plant material.
I still don’t think hornworms are cute… especially when they’re threatening my tomatoes!

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