Monday, May 21, 2012
Garden Seeds // Beware #2: Grape Vine Skeletonizer
Well, two weeks in a row of a bug blog. This week my garden was visited by the Western Grape Leaf Skeletonizer. My grape vines looked like they had been stripped or sucked on by an insect. Upon further inspection, I discovered about fifty (50) of these small caterpillars.
Grape leaf skeletonizers are very destructive pests. At the first sign of caterpillars, treat with Bt (bacillus thuringiensis). The caterpillars must ingest the spray; shortly after eating it, they stop feeding and die. Basically, the Bt disrupts the insects' disgestive system and they starve. This is a biological control and is not harmful to birds or beneficial insects. Bt is available at most garden centers and is environmentally safe. Crops can be harvested the day after any Bt variety is applied. Source: Biocontrol Network, www.biconet.com.
I was lucky and saved my vine due to an early detection. I initially plucked off the caterpillars and then applied the Bt later that day. However, these pests can destroy an entire vine in just a few days. I have a friend who, upon discovering her infestation, had thousands of skeletonizers and it was too late. Her vine was completely destroyed.
It is important to check your garden daily. Just a cursory glance over each plant will allow you to notice subtle changes. I do this each morning with a cup of coffee and it only takes minutes. In just two weeks, I have saved my pepper plants and now, my grapes.