Some of our longtime readers and local gardeners know that, during these last few years, we have had some pretty nasty foes invade our garden, which devastated our greens at an alarming rate. The Bagrada bug (also called painted bug or harlequin bug) was first found in North America in June 2008 in Los Angeles County and is an extremely MAJOR pest when it comes to the brassicas, kale, radishes, cabbage and turnip family.
Bagrada bugs damage plants by feeding on young leaves. A heavily-attacked plant has a scorched appearance. No method of termination – nothing works, neem, nothing! It’s downright frustrating to watch helplessly as perfectly green and healthy leaves shrivel up before your very eyes. Some folks suggest vacuuming (not a bad idea!. ) Aphids are a walk in the park compared to these “vampire bugs.”
We’ve nicknamed these pesky buggers “blood suckers” as these bugs suck the living sap from leaves, which then wilt and later dry/die.
Here’s a “cut and come” kale bed we’ve had growing since November.
… a few days later
Nothing we can do except to cut it down and give the greens to our barnyard animals.
Dr. Gevork Arakelian, entomologist for Los Angeles County, says this insect “has the potential to become a very serious pest.” Um, it ALREADY is!
Unfortunately, Bagrada bugs are quite hardy and resistant to most organic methods of control. According to the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research, the heaviest Bagrada infestations are in “organic farms, community gardens and residential vegetable gardens where little or no pesticides are used.”
If Southern California farmers can’t get a handle on the infestation, this should be a major concern for other parts of the county. The rapid spread of Bagrada bugs has the potential to be a serious problem for fellow organic farmers.
Has your garden been invaded yet? Have you found any successful method for eradicating them?
:: Resources ::