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Fall Cool Season Pests

As we head into fall most insects will start to find places to overwinter and be less active in the garden, that being said there are still plenty that will stick around to eat the last of the available harvest before winter sets in! Be on the look out for these fall garden pests to protect your fall harvest, and set yourself up for success next year! If you can stay on top of pest control in your garden and kill the insects before they can find a place to overwinter then you will reduce the number immerging in the spring to snack on you next seasons crops. To control these pests in your home garden the best management is physically removing them and killing them on sight!

Beet Armyworm are a caterpillar that loves bush beans in the fall so pay special attention to these and any cucurbits you may still have in your garden like squash, pumpkins, or melons. The larvae will eat the leaves and even the fruits of your plant as they mature. Be on the look out for the caterpillar but also for clusters of holes with white outlines in your leaves. In the image below you can spot the beet armyworm at the bottom in the center. They are not easy to spot in your garden either so use the damage as a clue!

Figure 3. Beet armyworm damage to pepper plants.

Cabbage Webworm these pest attack mainly your cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. They are not super common in Kentucky and the Midwest but when they do make it into your garden they can be detrimental. They have a black head and a tan/brown body making them distinct from most other caterpillars you'll find in your garden. Like their name they leave behind a web like substance as they eat your plants foliage and the larvae themselves are often found in the webbing on the margin of leaves.

Figure 1. Cabbage webworm is uncommon but can occur in Kentucky.

Cabbage Loopers are bright green and will eat their way right through your beautiful leafy crops like cabbage, kale, lettuces, and others. Look for them on the underside of leaves and around new growth, but know they can be found anywhere on the plant. They are distinctive with their tapered heads and the way their bodies make an arch when they move much like an inch worm.

Figure 2. A cabbage looper's body  is narrow  near its head.

Cucumber Beetle as you can see in the picture below the cucumber beetle can be either spotted or striped, but both are bright yellow with black markings. Don't let the name fool you they are not found only on cucumbers they are also found on melons and gourds. They most damage they cause is through the transfer of bacteria they harbor that causes wilt in plants. Make sure to check in your plants flowers for these bugs where the juveniles congregate to eat the pollen and soft flowers. The more mature beetles will be found on the leaves where they are easier to spot.

Figure 2. Spotted cucumber beetle (left) is larger on average than striped cucumber beetle (right).

Squash Vine Borer, even in fall your plants are not safe these horrible pests will destroy your winter squash, gourds, and pumpkins! For more details on how to spot them and manage them check out our blog Squash Vine Borer Prevention


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