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Posts Tagged ‘Sow bug’

Danger of Sow Bug Pests in Garden

Monday, June 14th, 2010
Sow bug (Oniscus asellus)

Image by Eco Heathen via Flickr

Sow bugs and pill bugs are curious little creatures of the garden. children call them roly-polys and like to poke the pill bugs so that they roll up into tight little balls. Most people discover sow and pill bugs to be harmless. This is true when they are few in numbers, but sometimes they over breed and become true garden pests.

Sow and pill bugs are closely related and at first glance look pretty much the same. The way to tell them apart is that pill bugs can roll up fully into a ball. Sow bugs do not roll up as tightly. The bugs have tight segmented shells and multiple legs that can be seen scurrying along. Both kinds are true crustaceans, related to shrimps. Sow and pill bugs, though they need constant moisture, live solely on land.

Sow Bugs and Garden Mulch

The vegetable garden is probably not the origin of a sow bug infestation. It’s more likely that garden mulch is the bigger nursery. The bugs thrive in old dead leaves and tend to live under garden mulch. Within the mulch, sow bugs eat dead, dying, or decayed vegetation. They need the moisture that the mulch holds.

A vegetable garden may attract sow bugs, especially if it is mulched. The sow bugs like the moist garden surroundings. Let’s face it, insects eat their share of the bounty of gardens. There are some people who feel that sow bugs are not the culprits that really do the damage. They claim that other insects nibble the leaves and sow bugs move in later to clean up. This is not always the case in a vegetable garden.

Damage to the Vegetable Garden

Sow bugs typically eat only dead materials, it’s true. But sometimes they will as well eat tender young shoots. This becomes a predicament in the timely plantings, especially of beans, where the sow bugs crawl into the gap in soil as the sprout emerges and eat the first leaves before they push out. This damages the new sprout so that can never recover. Loss of the first few leaves effectively kills the plant. Here are some plants known to be damaged by sow bugs:

  • lettuce
  • radish and beets
  • green beans
  • starwberries

In the vegetable garden, timely spring crops such as lettuce and radishes are the first targets. Sow bugs are quite frequently found among tender lettuce leaves. They thrive in the shady moist surroundings. A radish patch as well makes a welcoming hang out for sow bugs. The bugs crawl up the leaves and make little round nibbles into the top of the radishes just below the soil line. They are as well known to take a bite or two out of ripening strawberries.

Controlling the Garden Pests

Sow bugs tend to eat only the soft tender parts of plants and generally leave established plants alone. Later in the growing season, sow bugs are not the ones that are eating the plants. Snails, slugs, beetles, and many other insects share in the feast of the garden. Vegetable gardeners can control the sow and pill bugs with organic diatomaceous earth. By keeping their numbers low, sow bugs will not create much damage. The secret is in comprehending these roly-polys and maintaining garden pest control.

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Sow Bugs

Saturday, June 12th, 2010
Blue Sow Bug

Image by Ben Amstutz via Flickr

They are called by several varyent names–sow bugs, pill bugs, woodlice, doodlebugs, and roly-polies. These bugs are ordinaryly found in small numbers in lawns and gardens. For the most part, they are no predicament, but when they breed in large numbers in a small area they can overrun a vegetable garden.

Sow bugs most frequently live in areas where there are piles of old leaves or in beds covered with garden mulch. They thrive in moist areas and eat dead or decaying vegetation. If there are too many in an area, they will discover new young shoots or tender leaves to eat. In a garden, this can spell disaster. Most gardeners want to discover a way to keep them out of the vegetable garden.

Diatomaceous Earth for Garden Pest Control

Sow bugs have a great defense against predators. Their shells taste bad and most insect eaters leave them alone. The most likely predator is the woodloutilize spider (Dysdera crocata). To keep down the numbers of sow bugs, gardeners are advised leave this reddish spider alone to do its job.

There are pesticides that kill sow, pill, and other crawling bugs. However, most people want to limit the utilize of pesticides in their gardens, even if the product is labeled as protected for utilize on edible plants. And pesticides are never utilized in organic gardens. organic gardeners look to other categories of pest control.

Here are some organic ways to control sow bugs:

  • Reduce the amount of moisture
  • Remove excess mulch or debris from the area around the garden
  • In raised beds, replace wooden supports with stone
  • utilize corncobs or half cantaloupes to bait and remove
  • Dust around the plants with diatomaceous earth.
  • A organic Alternative to Chemical Pesticides

    Diatomaceous earth is a good alternative to pesticides. This organic mineral substance is mined and then ground up into a very fine powder. It is nontoxic to humans and animals. Any crawling insect that moves over or into the powder picks up the dust. The dust kills the insect by damaging the outer shell and drying out the moisture inside.

    Place the powder around the area or the plants that needs to be protected. Surround the perimeter of the garden. Dust the top of the soil or run the powder along borders especially wooden planks. Sow bugs frequently burrow in the moist soil along the side of a wooden riser. After they’ve burrowed in for the winter, this area can be dug up and removed.

    The utilize of diatomaceous earth has a couple of disbenefits. One is that it must be kept dry to keep it in powder form. Of course, it is complex to avoid wetting the diatomaceous dust in a garden. The gardener must reapply the powder periodically between waterings or after the dust cakes up. The other disbenefit is that the powder is not targeted just to sow or pill bugs. The utilize of diatomaceous earth will affect any crawling insect, such as ants.

    Controlling Sow Bug Infestations

    The presence of small numbers of sow and pill bugs is typically not a predicament. They can just be left alone. However, large numbers of them may become a nuisance. They are especially damaging to the new growth of an timely spring garden. comprehendably, most people do not want sow bugs in their vegetable gardens. Diatomaceous earth is a helpful approach to controlling these garden pests.

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