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Beets Pests-Characteristics, Behavior, and Management

beets-pests

Aphids

Several species of aphids attack beets including bean aphids, green peach aphids, and sugar beet root aphids.  Their physical characteristics may be slightly different than those listed below.

Physical Characteristics: Asparagus aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects about the size of a pinhead. They are covered with a waxy film.

Behavior: Aphids feed on the sap of a plant. They generally attack in colonies gathering on the underside of leaves. Aphids produce a waste product called honeydew, which can cause sooty mold on plants. They have the potential to carry viruses through their sucking mouthparts.

Damage: Aphid damage is two-fold resulting in both mechanical and chemical damage.  First, the actual feeding on the foliage will cause damage to some plants.  Second, aphids inject a toxin into the plant while feeding which transmits viruses and will also result in damage.

In the case of beats, the damage may result in greens that curl, become distorted, and ultimately die. Once aphids are removed, regrowth will continue.

Management: Removing dead foliage and tilling in the spring is the main control method for this insect.  At the end of the gardening season, all debris should be removed from the garden.

They also have many natural enemies including lady beetles, flower fly larvae, lacewings, parasitic fungi, and parasitic wasps.

If more aggressive measures are necessary, aphids can be controlled with insecticidal soaps or other insecticides labeled for this purpose.

 

Beet Leafhopper

Physical Characteristics: The beet leafhopper is pale green or tan, 3mm, and has a distinctive wedge shape.

Behavior: The insect migrates from overwintering plants and feed on healthy new plant growth. They colonize on the underside of leaves. Nymphs move rapidly when disturbed.

Damage: Beet leafhoppers transmit the viral disease curly top which turn leaves yellow and stops them from growing. The disease also causes extensive root damage.

Management: Overhead plant cover may help in preventing infestation. Infected plants cannot be salvaged. Insecticides may provide benefit.

Beat leafhoppers overwinter in weeds and discarded garden debris then migrate to fresh vegetation in the spring.  Practicing good garden sanitation will help to keep populations from moving in.  Keep the garden and a wide perimeter around the garden free of weeds and debris.  Remove all garden debris at the end of the season.

 

 

Flea Beetles

Physical Characteristics: There are several species of flea beetles with similar characteristics.  They are small and shiny beetles with large rear legs. Depending on the species they range in color from black, to brown, to orange with varying characteristics.

Behavior: Flea beetles chew holes in plant leaves. They can be found jumping when disturbed. The larvae feeds on the roots as well as germinating seeds.

Damage: Feeding causes small holes in the foliage. Feeding can cause enough damage to kill the plant especially in early growth development.

Management: Because seedlings are the most susceptible, use floating row covers while the seedling becomes established. Trap crops are another alternative, which are those plants set out to attract the beetle away from the desired crop such as radish or daikon. More aggressive measures include diatomaceous earth, horticultural oil, and neem insecticides.

Seed Corn Maggot

Physical Characteristics: The adult fly is ¼” long with a gray appearance.  The maggots resemble typical fly maggots that are white, legless, with tough outer coatings.

Behavior: The larvae feed on seeds as they are germinating.  They may bore into the seed causing failure to germinate.

Damage: Seeds that don’t germinate are an indication that the seed corn maggot may be present.

Management: Damage is most severe when conditions are cold and wet. If possible plant seed accordingly.  In cases where the maggot is a serious problem, insecticides labeled for the purpose may be helpful prior to planting.

Webworms

Physical Characteristics: Webworms are products of small, brown colored moths often seen among the foliage. The mature larvae are fairly large at 1.5 inches long. The color depends on the species but is generally some shade of green. As they mature, they develop stripes.

Behavior: The adult will lay groups of yellow/green eggs on the underside of foliage.  When the larvae emerge, they begin to feed heavily on the foliage.  As they feed, they spin webs on and between leaves.

Damage: Webworms are voracious feeders and can quickly defoliate a plant.

Management: Removing dead foliage and tilling in the spring is the main control method for this insect.  Practicing good garden sanitation will help to keep populations from moving in.  Keep the garden and a wide perimeter around the garden free of weeds and debris.  Remove all garden debris at the end of the season.

 

References

http://www.insectid.ento.vt.edu/insect-id/vegetable-pests/beet-chard.html

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/selectnewpest.sugarbeet.html

” Aphids.” University of Vermont Cooperative Extention. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/444/444-220/444-220.html>.

“Beet Webworm.” Virginia Cooperative Extension. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/3104/3104-1542/3104-1542.html>.

“Webworms.” University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r735300911.html>.

“Seedcorn Maggot.” University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r735301711.html>.

” Cabbage and Seedcorn MaggotUniversity of “Vermont Cooperative Extension. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/444/444-231/444-231.html>.

“Beet Leafhopper.” University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r607300411.html>.

” Aphids.” University of Vermont Cooperative Extention. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/444/444-220/444-220.html>.

 

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