14 October 2006

Blasted by Bugs

Damn and Blast!  Last weekend saw us hit by a double-whammy.  A berg wind (very hot, adiabatic wind coming off the escarpment) coupled with a no-doubt-related outbreak of Cabbage Beetles.  I don't know if they have a "real" name - its a species of Shield Bug - that attacks the Cabbage tribe of plants almpst exclusively.  They're about the size of Ladybugs, black with distinctive orange dots patterned on their carapace.

These little buggers suck the sap from the plants, which, coupled with the very hot, dry wind, has caused major havoc.  Chinese Cabbage that have made it all the way as far as seeding have been destroyed.  Bok Choy, Tat Soy, Red Mustard and Rocket that were 5 days from harvesting -- nailed.  Radishes that just came up a couple of weeks ago -- trashed.  Golden Globe turnips that I am growing for seed have taken a severe beating, but should survive.

The trouble with these little bugs is that they exude some Noxious Stuff, so nothing (as far as I can determine) eats them.  The only solution I can come up with is caging the plants with an insect-proof netting.

Caging is my latest Bright Idea for several things.  Not only will it keep the Cabbage Eating Bastards at bay, but will also work as isolation cages for Chillis so that I avoid a repeat of The Great Cross-Pollination "Experiment" of 2002.  Additionally, I think it may work quite nicely to keep Squashes from being stung  by Fruit Fly (well, I guess that they're roughly the same thing as Pumpkin Fly).  I am quite late for planting Squashes this year, which means that all the fruiting will happen during the Fruit Fly Season.  Normally this would mean 100% losses, but I am optimistic (eternally?) that caging will prove to be a good solution.

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