There is a lot going on in my garden this week:
My peas are going crazy.
My kohlrabi is looking good.
My corn is happy.
The peppers I started from seed are closing in on transplanting time.
The only issue I am having are super-sized, extra giant grubs.
These are not your June bug variety lawn grubs. My best guess, after some research, is that they are Eastern Hercules Beetle larvae. I am not sure they are actually damaging my plants. The profile for these says they are feeding on decomposing organic matter in my beds. However, I had these in my pots last season and I am certain they were responsible for the demise of the tomato plants that were growing in them.
I am not usually squeamish about bugs. I invite all sorts of things to enjoy my garden with me. I teach my kids that garden spiders are my helpers. I squish the caterpillars on my veggie plants by hand so I don’t have to spray. I encourage wasps so they can eat the caterpillars I miss. I collect and transfer any earthworms I find on the sidewalk after a rain, into my raised beds.
But…everyone has a breaking point. Had they been in a compost pile I would have left them. Unfortunately, these were where I was working and they were out of control. I was digging up three or four for every plant hole I dug. They are so big I was smashing them with a trowel rather than get the gross innards on my shoes. Plus: since I couldn’t tell where they were as I dug, I punctured a few while digging and they were making my planting experience a gross one.
I didn’t want to use a chemical across my veggie bed, so I took the plunge and ordered some beneficial nematodes. I bought them through this site: Name Your Link“>link. Learn which variety of nematode you need here (or use the link above for a mix that will surely get whatever you are struggling with) : https://www.arbico-organics.com/category/nematode-selection-chart
Nematodes are microscopic. Some varieties of nematodes (naturally found in sandy soils down here) are harmful to plant roots. I have read horror stories from people who were trying to eradicate those.
These nematodes are different. They don’t infest plant roots: they eat bugs. They are microscopic hunters that will go after quite a few of my least favorite garden insects. As long as it pupates or lives in the soil: I should be covered. One of the bugs I’m hoping to get some control over are squash vine borers that have two life cycles per season down here. The squash borers love to decimate my favorite winter squash varieties and they pupate underground.
So this is the claim from the brand I bought:
- These microscopic insects will seek out and destroy over 230 kinds of soil dwelling and wood boring insects
- They are completely compatible with beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantis and do not harm earthworms.
- Will not affect humans, animals, or plants
- Steinernema Feltiae, covers 200 sq ft
They are supposed to stay refrigerated, so I’m guessing you won’t have a lot of luck with them once the weather gets hot. I put mine down on an overcast weekend. They were easy to apply.
Add a cup of cool water and wait 30 minutes
Mix into some soil in a bucket and a little more water. I used the cup they came in to stir the mixture and scoop it out across a few pots and my beds.
I am hoping for great results. I will settle for any recognizable change in soil dwelling, problem insects this season. I will also be watching the claim about not harming earthworms. I have said before that I need a degree in entomology to identify the vast array of insects down here. Hopefully, my new friends: the nematodes, will help me get out from under the bug avalanche my garden experiences every summer. Wish me luck!
Update: The nematodes worked incredibly fast. The grubs were gone within the week and I haven’t had many problems with bugs this year. I will definitely be using them again!