Somethings eating my eggplant!!

flibbertigibbet(7)June 7, 2005

I went out today to water and all my leaves looked like green lace. I lifted up a leaf and there were these tiny dark bugs running around. Anyone know what this is? Anybody know what to do about them? Its just such a sad sight. I so don't want to say bye-bye babaganoush.

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MadMIke(z5 Michigan)

Sprinkle Seven dust on the plants, bugs will be gone in a day or two.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 10:18AM
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Jacque_E_TX(Z 8a N Cent TX)

Sprinkle strong coffee or coffee grounds and bugs be gone faster--and you won't be breathing Seven dust....

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 2:56PM
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izepp(z6 PA)

Those sound like flea beetles - they love eggplant. I know coffee can be helpful for slugs, but I don't know about for beetles. I generally try to be mostly organic, but if it were me, I'd hit them with something hard - now. That way you can kill the bugs before the leaves are completely gone, and long, long before you're looking at any eggplants.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 3:35PM
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What's Seven dust?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 4:09PM
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MadMIke(z5 Michigan)

Seven dust is an insecticide, relatively safe. As a matter of fact, you can sprinkle it in a dog house for flea control. It also comes in a liquid form that is mixed wih water.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 4:22PM
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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

I do confess to keeping a duster of Sevin around for the times my coffee, tobacco "tea" + soap in a sprayer doesn't clear up an infestation, especially for a plant several weeks from harvest time.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 4:39PM
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Jacque_E_TX(Z 8a N Cent TX)

Coffee grounds (fresh, not perked, not decaf) contain caffeine, which is a pretty broad-spectrum killer at the bug/insect level. Since caffeine is highly water soluble, you have to either brew it to 10x regular strength and spray, or just sprinkle the grounds and dampen the surface. Most insects seem to detect relatively low levels of caffeine, and clear out of the area quickly.

In fact, y'all will notice that I routinely caution against applying coffee to areas of a plant that attract pollinators, since pollinators are also vulnerable to the toxic effect of caffeine on tiny life.

As for animal safety, I'll point out that humans often live 5 to 8 times as long as dogs or cats. That gives humans a much longer lifetime exposure to toxins. (Many people think if it is safe to expose a dog to a chem for 10 years, it is safe to expose a human to the chem for 50 years. Not always true.... Yet most people seem to apply dusts and sprays with poor/no protection against skin and lung absorption.)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 4:43PM
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MadMIke(z5 Michigan)

Based on the "warning" label right on the package, Sevin dust is relatively safe. I quite certain more dogs and humans die from obesity than all chemical exposures combined. From my experience, one application of Sevin will fix the Flea Beetle problem, I have yet to need to apply it a second time. I wonder what would happen if my dog ate a load of coffee grounds?


    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 8:06AM
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So instead of get into the middle of peoples debate, I decided to see if I could find out anything about Sevin for myself. Now I know that if I were trying to sell something I wouldnÂt say it was bad for you; so I figured right away that I wouldnÂt check their direct site. It took a little while for me to find anything useful, because anytime you type in a product name you just get people wanting to sell it to you. So I google searched Sevin+information. This led me to some interesting pages. I think, though, that the most unbiased one I found was simply the precautionary info on use of the stuff. It can be found at:

Well, this site warns against inhalation, ingestion, dermal contact, clothing contact, etc. This kinda scares me. (And I do know that no insecticide is going to be safe for every person all the time.) See, my youngest kid was born with kidneys about the size of a pencil eraser. This means that it is especially difficult for her little body to get rid of any chemicals -- even things as common as potassium and some of the components of protein. In fact she has to receive dialysis nightly just for her everyday kidney dysfunction. So its super important for me to read labels, and even why I thought itÂd be a good idea for us to grow our own vegetables and follow a primarily vegetarian diet. That way I know whatÂs going in and can better plan for how to deal with the repercussions of high toxicity levels. OK, enough about my personal whysÂ

Anyway, with all of this in mind and all your assorted points, I went down to my semi-local nursery (the closest townÂs 30 miles away) and talked with their best pest guy about flea beetles. He didnÂt say anything about coffee or Sevin. He recommended dish soap and said I could use the ecofriendly, non- septic harming, pinko commie variety of my choosing. I breathed a sigh of relief as I looked longingly at his beautiful eggplants.

So when I got back up the mountain and home, I ran straight up to the garden and gave the holey plants a nice dousing of Mountain Green Natural dish soap, sprinkled some coffee grounds along the walkways (not in the actual squares), and vowed to continue my research on Sevin. I may find in the future, that itÂs a-okay and give it a try. But for right now, IÂm going to admit to my ignorance and stick to what FEELS right to me.

Thank you ALL for letting me know what these atrocious critters are, and for your helpful suggestions. IÂll, hopefully, be expressing additional gratitude around a big biteful of eggplant parmesan in just a few short months. Mmmmmmm.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 1:43PM
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Jacque_E_TX(Z 8a N Cent TX)

Mmmmmmmm, ditto....

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 2:44PM
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giardiniere(z 6 KS)

I have problems with flea beetles almost every year. You can place a floating row cover over your young seedlings right after you plant them, and leave them there until your plants get well established. This won't keep the dang little buggers off your eggplants after you remove the covers, but the damage they do, won't be as severe. In the past, I have used insecticidal soap (basiaclly what you did with the dishsoap (BTW, mix a few drops of vegetable oil with the soap, it helps the mixture adhere to the leaves), and I've also used Rotenone (not my prefered method, but all I could get at the time).
Here is an article, that I've copied and posted, that you might find interesting.....

Botanical pesticides recommended for controlling flea beetles include neem, rotenone, pyrethrin, sabadilla, and formulations of these in some combination (7). The University of California mentions insecticidal soap as an organic option for flea beetles, but indicates that it "may provide partial control" only (14, 15). Sprays combining rotenone with insecticidal soap are considered very effective (12). Other sources suggest that garlic sprays are useful (16). Research in Colorado showed that garlic extracts are successful in suppressing flea beetles, but efficacy may trail off later in the season (17). In addition to garlic, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recommends onion and mint as natural flea-beetle repellants (18).

Pyola is a natural insecticide product that combines canola oil with pyrethrins. It is recommended for use on flea beetles, cucumber beetles, Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, aphids, mites, and Colorado potato beetle (19). However, since much of the canola oil on the market is derived from genetically engineered plants, this product may or may not be acceptable for organic production. Growers should contact their certifying agent before purchase and use.

Botanical and soap-based pesticides should be considered a last resort in organic management. Like synthetic pesticides, most of these materials are broad-spectrum and kill many beneficial, non-target organisms, including predators and parasites that help keep the flea beetle population in check naturally.

Not a botanical and not often mentioned in this regard, diatomaceous earth has been observed to reduce flea-beetle populations and is sometimes recommended (20, 21).

The kaolin-clay-based product Surround has undergone some preliminary evaluation for flea-beetle control on eggplant. While effective in reducing flea-beetle damage, Surround degraded fruit yield and quality; there also were problems removing the clay-residue coating from the fruit. The use of this product will likely be limited to the early part of the season, before fruit set (22).

Fields should be regularly monitored to determine if and when any pesticidal agents should be applied. This is especially critical with flea beetles, since a small population can do significant damage to a crop in the cotyledon or first-leaf stages. The University of California recommends that treatment begin when several damaged rows are observed, and that spot treatment of rows and borders be attempted first (14). Small growers, whose whole crop may comprise just a few rows, will need to act more quickly. Once cole crops reach the five-leaf stage, they are generally able to tolerate a moderate level of damage; older plants are even more tolerant.

Good luck, flea beetles and squash bugs are my two biggest pains........ when it comes to gardening.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 10:19AM
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I have wonderful results using Safer Insecticidal Soap for flea beetles, which is much, much safer than Sevin. I also grow all my eggplants underneath light insect-weight floating row covers until they start to bud. By that time they are large enough where any flea beetle problems are purely cosmetic, or can handily be controlled with the Safer product.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 1:20PM
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I have wonderful results using Safer Insecticidal Soap for flea beetles, which is much, much better for you & the environment than resorting to Sevin. I also grow all my eggplants underneath light insect-weight floating row covers until they start to bud. By that time they are large enough where any flea beetle problems are purely cosmetic, or can handily be controlled with the Safer product.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 1:22PM
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Flibbertigibbet, compadre! these are my tactics also. But i'm glad to be reminded of diatomaceous earth because i've used this often and it's really helped. One does need to be careful of any ingestion of this - just for it's talcum-type quality - bad for the lungs. And my other most favorite and who-knows-how-effective-it-is (very on Japanese beetles) is the cayenne/chili powder. I killed a lotta potato bugs with cayenne, and any soft-bodied bug. Also, i used Safers when i was employed as an exotic plant care tech and had good results with pests but there are precautions with it, too. It's just "safer" than others. Thanks for all the good ideas! I'm excited by my eggplant's growth.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:05AM
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yrdling(U:7B A:9 S:33)

How do you apply all these various mixtures? Do you just put them in a regular sprayer and spray them on the plant leaves?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 7:59PM
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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

Yes, most of these things are sprayed thought a pump sprayer (after filtering out the solids and pouring them from another container so the settlings don't transfer in the case of home brewed concoctions).

Also, since the time this thread started ('05) I've started to add cayenne pepper and the occasional clump of leaves and stems thinned from a tomato plant to the mix in the fermentation bucket for my concoction.

DE is a powder that is sprinkled.

The commercial products come with application directions, go to the garden center and read labels.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:17PM
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I just found some tiny insects on my eggplants that have something like cotton on one end of them, when I touched them they hoped like grasshoppers, what are they? How do you make these concoctions with garlic and the coffee ones too?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 2:43PM
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I am a fairly novice container gardener trying to cultivate tomatoes, cucumber, strawberries and japanese eggplant. The fruits of my labor are starting to show, but today I found the lacy leaves and two of those awful beetles munching away. I immediately sprayed with a little bit of veggie-friendly insecticide, but then I read this blog and then sprinkled some unused coffee grounds in the plants and wet them. I'm hoping for the best. Thanks for posting all the great advice. I might also try the DE (I have some) if the coffee doesn't work.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 12:34PM
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gardener_mary(6 MA)

I had flea bettles on my tomato plants at the begining of June, I took a spray bottle filled it with water, added a squirt of ordinary dish soap, shook it up and sprayed it where ever I saw the bettles and in all the ground around the plants. The next day there were no more bugs. I've only seen a couple since, I just give them a quick spray. I like to try the least invasive products/methods first before moving on to harsher products and I would only use the strongest products if nothing else worked and there was major infestation, but at that point I would not feel as good about the produce anyway.

Good gardening, Mary

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 1:28AM
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I have little holes on one of my eggplant plants and last night I noticed a Cherry Blossom Tree in my back yard has similar holes. Could it be the same type of bug on both?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:51PM
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