Build insect net "house"??

rosefoolMarch 1, 2014

Hi all,

I am in central Texas, with essentially two short growing seasons for tomatoes. Last year I tried Earthboxes and finally got decent fruit set, then leaf-footed bugs arrived and destroyed my tomatoes almost before I knew what was happening. I've read a lot, which has me very discouraged about using organic OR non-organic methods to prevent/control these nasty bugs.

I am thinking about trying to build a kind of insect net house that is freestanding and can be placed over my tomatoes (growing in Smart Pots). I need opinions and advice, please, about how to do this, and if you think it will work. I also probably need to do one for my squash.

I've attached a photo of something from Gardeners Supply, which is where I got the idea.

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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

You can make your own inexpensively. Build a 1/2" pvc frame and throw some nylon netting on it. pvc costs about a buck for 8ft length (plus some fittings) and nylon netting is sold at fabric stores for couple Dollars a yard. They come in various colors and mesh sizes. Yse RED, it might even be better for your tomatoes. How 'bout that!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 1:16PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Why not check over on the Greenhouses & Garden Structures forum for ideas. There have been several posts there about building hoop houses and domes out of netting/screening. Of course they keep out pollinators too but you can always hand pollinate.

But which of the many members of the leaf-footed bugs family caused you so much problem? There are controls available for each specific species but they are specific to the individual species and still have to be used with some care since so many of the family are beneficials.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 4:25PM
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rosefool

Hi Dave,

Here's a photo of the nasty bug that destroyed my tomatoes. It is

Common Name: Leaffooted bug
Scientific Name: Leptoglossus phyllopus (Linnaeus)
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Coreidae

From what I've read they are hard to control with insecticides, and I'm pretty much organic, anyway. People talk about hand picking them, but I tried that and found it difficult and of seemingly limited value. This particular bug seemed to be fond of flying into my face, which I found disconcerting. Any ideas you have I would welcome, and thanks for the tip about the other forum-- I didn't know about that.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 9:51PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

hi rosefool - there are some 200 different specices of leaf-foots and the one in your photo is a young Eastern Leaf-foot (which is supposedly rarely seen west of the Mississippi or in the deep south except in unusually dry years.

If that is true then you may not have the same problem this year. Then again, you might.

Controls (organic) for that specific sub-species are frequent egg patrols to remove them before hatching and the eggs are quite distinctive in appearance (see link below), tachnid wasps (you can order those) and a dust application named Surround (TM) that blocks their ability to feed and irritates their bodies.

Hope this helps.

Dave

PS: Here are a bunch of pics of various garden netting structures for some ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eastern leaf-foot bug

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 12:32PM
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rosefool

Dave,

Thank you, you have been extremely helpful! I may give the organic methods you describe a try, including the wasps and the Surround dust--that's the powdered kaolin clay, right?

Thanks again.

Karen

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 4:19PM
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