Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers
I replied in an old message, and wanted to give this a post of its own.
Last year, I started using Kaolin Clay (Surround WP is the brand name), and I'm sold on it now. In fact, in 2009, I'm planning on using that for all of my pest problems (plus the iron phosphate slug bait).
Basically, you just spray it on everything that might have a problem, it creates a grayish film and the pests don't like it. It has a bad taste and is sticky on their little feet. But it's safe for everybody, including our precious bees.
I tend not to spray veg. flowers because I don't want to repel the bees, but I've *read* the bees aren't bothered by it. I did, however, spray it on cucumber flowers because cucumber beetles love those, and had no shortage of cucumbers.
The one thing I'll do differently this year is to use it from day one. As soon as my plants go into the ground, or seedlings erupt and are strong enough, I'll be spraying them with the clay. The only downside is that it does cast a film of gray on your lush green color. (Pic urls at bottom of this post)
By doing it *before* the pests arrive, you've set up the plants to be distasteful from the start. Then when they come, they'll probably move on to a better place. I did it mid season, and still had very good results.
The main foes I have are flea beetles on eggplants, cucumber beetles and squash vine borers. Oh, and some kind of leafhopper sucker insect that likes my dahlias and tomatoes.
As long as I kept it sprayed on the eggplants, the flea beetles were GONE! At most I might see one or two lonely guys wandering around slowly. As soon as the clay wore off, they were back in mass.
It also worked well on cucumber beetles. YES!
You do have to be diligent, however, and reapply when it wears off or you have hard rain. With no rain, I found every week or two was enough. I just did my daily check, and if I saw one of my foes, reapplied and they left.
By the time I finally mixed some up, the squash vine borer lady had already laid her bad eggs. This year, I'll be totally coating all of my squash and hopefully she'll go somewhere else. We'll see, but everything I've read is positive.
I'm really sold on this stuff. It's safe, easy to use if you get yourself a sprayer (too much to use one of those hand pump squirter things) and pretty darned effective!
The down side:
--Cost, it's about 25 bucks for a five-pound bag and hard to find in that size. (It's marketed to orchards by the huge bag) But the bag will probably last the home gardener three years, maybe more.
--Appearance, the gray film isn't that pretty, but it is when you realize how great it is.
--Applying: you need to continually shake up your sprayer to keep it mixed up.
Here are some pics of how it looks when sprayed:
And Gardens Alive has it in five-pound bags (search for Surround WP on the net...that's the brand name)