Sunday, September 2, 2012

You Make The Call!

This article is going to anger a LOT of people, suffice it to say, that is okay.
I would like to start with a quote from that great philosopher "Popeye the Sailor Man",
He said, "That is all I can stands, cause me can't stands no more!"
I work very hard in my yard. There is more Blood, Sweat and Tears out there then I care to even imagine. I honestly do not mind sharing my harvest, but I have to have a harvest FIRST to share.
Take a look at these pictures:





Can you tell what this was at one time?
Probably not, because it was eaten to death! It was my Passion Vine. It actually had fruit on it at one time, until the deer got hold of it, that is a rant for another time.
The culprit?:



This is the larvae stage of the Agraulis vanillae, better known as the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly. The adult looks like this:



Pretty isn't it?
Let's set this one aside for the moment and focus on culprit number 2.
As you know, I am big into growing Citrus. Well, here is another enemy of mine:

Photo courtesy of Aggie Horticulture

This is the Orange Dog Caterpillar. A real nuisance to the Citrus Industry
They turn into these:



Again, pretty, right? These guys can do a number on Citrus trees. If you want to learn more about them, see one of my previous blogs here

Now, for our third and final culprit.
Meet, the Tobacco Hornworm:



This guy will put a Tomato plant down in no time flat, hurting your production.
I have previously written about these guys too, see it here
And its adult form:



I know, not as pretty as the previous culprits, but still interesting.
Why did I introduce you to these three thieving pests? Because that is exactly what they are, THIEVES!
All three of them will rob you of precious food. Now granted, Passion Fruit is not essential to life, nor is Citrus or Tomatoes for that matter. Then why do you grow them in your yard?
To eat, I would imagine. Homegrown is much better tasting, healthier and in the long run, cheaper.
Yet, I get chastised for wanting to rid my yard of the first two. The third one, Americans spend millions of dollars a year to get rid of these guys.
Why?
Because they devour our Tomato plants? What about the Gulf Fritillary, it devoured my Passion Vine, should I not get rid of it?
OH, I SEE....it's too pretty.
The same goes for the Orange Dog, it eats my Citrus tree, but I should not get rid of it because the butterfly is attractive.
The Tobacco Hornworm, ugly, go ahead and get rid of it.
Does this not seem WRONG to you?
Well, I have a solution....They are all going to go!
I honestly tried relocating them. I actually took a dozen of the Gulf Fritillaries to my friend, who works at a local Garden Center, for their Butterfly House. Literally two days later there was almost twice as many again. I kept hoping maybe the birds would get into the act and help.
Nope.
Maybe the Assassin Bugs would decide to wage war on them.
Again, nope.
So, I hoped and hoped, well now the plant is toast and I am fed up.
Next step in my war is Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. This insecticide is most commonly used against some leaf and needle feeding caterpillars. It is a naturally occurring bacterial disease of insects and is considered safe to people and nontarget species, such as wildlife. It can be used on essentially all food crops.
If that doesn't work, Sevin dust or better known chemically as Carbaryl will be brought out. If YOU decide to go this route, make sure, as I do, to follow the label directions.
Mother Nature has not been playing fair this year. I try to work with her. I offer non-human food for the insects and other critters to eat and enjoy. I am even willing to share, as I stated at the beginning, but if she is not going to meet me halfway, then I am going to declare war. I work WAY to hard in my yard not to get paid in some fashion. This is not Darren's never ending buffet, I will get my rewards.
I hope this article rant makes you think a little before bashing my opinion. Do you want to have food on the table or do you want to be hungry watching the "pretty butterflies" go by?
You Make The Call!
Personally, I like a good Tomato Sandwich, a glass of Orange Juice for dinner and maybe a Passion Fruit Smoothie for desert.
Happy Growing!
Darren

1 comment:

  1. I am going through the exact same line of thought with Gulf Fritillaries on my Passionflower vines. I was actually excited a few weeks ago to see Fritillary eggs and then the first few hatched caterpillars. I even naively thought I could pick off a few of the "extra" caterpillars and just leave the rest. Now my passionflowers are 100% defoliated exactly like yours and I'm ready to wage holy war on the Fritillaries.

    So far no pests of my kind on my citrus, but I'll keep a close eye out.

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