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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Milky Spore Product Probably Not Best Choice for Southern Nevada

Q. In my attempt to plant seedlings this year in my 4x8 raised bed, I noticed the day after I planted some pepper plants they were decimated by some kind of insect. When I was amending the soil a few weeks before, I noticed some small worm-like critters in the soil. I sprayed a bit of Bt on the soil but it evidently didn't do anything to help the situation. I was told to use a powder called "milky spore disease” to kill any grubs or grub-like insects. Have you ever heard of this product? They said it works and I only have to apply it one time. Sounds too good to be true. This store said they used to carry the product but not any more for reasons unknown. I went to the Home Depot and Lowe's, but neither store had the product.

Can you advise me on this product and where I might find it or some other solution?  I removed the damaged plant and I'm trying to revive it.

A. The milky spore product only works on some types of insects such as Japanese beetle which we do not have in southern Nevada, and a few closely related insects. “Milky spore” is a bacterium and works rather slowly, if it will work at all, on pests in southern Nevada.

Cutworm larva
Bt works on those insect larvae that mature or pupate into either moths or butterflies. So if the larva turns into a beetle, for instance, it will not work. So without knowing which insect larva you have it is hard to know what will work unless you use a conventional pesticide approved for use on vegetables and has insect grubs or larvae on the label.

This time of year Bt is a good product to use in home gardens because of the presence of cutworms. I am sending you a picture of what the cutworm larva looks like and its adult form (posted also on my blog), a moth. Bt can be sprayed on the soil and left undisturbed (no hoeing or irrigating) for a few days.
Dipel in this form is a dry flowable product. Dry flowable pesticides
are the same as what we call "water dispersable granules". These can
be mixed with water and they disperse in water easily and quickly BUT
the spray mix MUST be constantly mixed or shook while applying or
the pesticide with settle out and you will not be applying it anymore
but will collect at the bottom of the sprayer

This is the time of year that this moth is flying and laying eggs. Their larvae “hatch” from the eggs and are out looking for food right now. Usual cutworm damage is at the soil surface, not on the leaves. Other products to try to protect your plants are those that leave a poisonous residue for insects on the leaves. You can also use insect netting covering the rows in a low tunnel.


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