Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Using damp paper towels for organic pest control

Yesterday I told you about our new Lifetime Compost Tumbler and Farmer D's quest to assemble it by himself. I need to start off today by apologizing because I misunderstood him, he did not say it was finished the other night. Last night he came home and with a bright and shining light, he got the rest of it assembled in no time flat. It took less than 3 hours total for him to get it done with no help at all and now I am able to start loading it up!

While Farmer D was finishing up with the compost tumbler, I was going through and doing some chores around the garden. One of the things I was working on was pruning off some of the leaves on the tomatoes that are affected by blight. Pruning off the affected leaves is helpful to try and reduce the spread of this disease to the rest of the plant. 

While I was doing this, I spotted something on one of the main branches of this tomato plant. It was difficult to get a clear picture but I recognized these tiny buggers as leaf hoppers and knew that they needed to be attended to right away, before they got bigger and migrated around the rest of the plant, and certainly before they transformed into their adult selves.

Colony of very small leaf hoppers on tomato branch
Because I caught them when they were very small and almost immobile, I decided the best course of action was to pull out my lethal damp paper towels. I got 2 paper towels and dampened them up with...water. Last time I discovered these on a plant, they were much bigger and some of them had matured so I had to use insecticidal soap spray on them. I like damp paper towels better.

Damp paper towel
I used one of my paper towels to wrap around the branch like a skirt under the colony to catch any that might fall off and the other to simply wipe the bugs off the plant.

They're easier to see on the paper towel - creepy looking critters 
I just simply disposed of the paper towels in our outside dumpster.

Next I looked at the leaves below to see if any got away. A few did so I wiped those off  the plant too.

The branch after wiping it clean
I will keep an eye on this plant to make sure I don't see anymore of these creatures but the damp paper towel trick got the majority of them, if not all of them, and it couldn't have been easier or more eco-friendly.  
"Those things are scary!"

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