GARDENER’S COLUMN: In Search of Beetles | Home & Garden

“We hope that as the insects take over the world, they will remember with gratitude how we took them on all our picnics.”– Bill Vaughan

Our June weather has been throughout – from cold and wet to hot and humid – making it difficult to do gardening chores when I’m home. The good working weather always seems to be when I’m working in the office. Luckily, the main chores in the garden right now are weeding – a never-ending chore, planting plants here and there, and checking for insect pests in the garden.

Push back larger sedums about halfway when they are about 8 inches tall. This will help them achieve more compact and stable growth and prevent them from tipping over later this summer or early fall. Do the same for early blooming chrysanthemums.

It’s time to side fertilize perennial beds with 10-10-10 fertilizer. Roses should be made after their first bloom. Towards the end of June, use a higher phosphate or superphosphate for beets, carrots, garlic, melons, onions, potatoes and Swiss chard. This promotes root growth. Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer for peppers, squash, and squash. Remember to follow the directions on your fertilizer.

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There are also some early summer insects to watch out for in your garden. This is the time to start a spraying regiment to prevent codling moth, codling moth and plum curculio.

Another pest to watch out for is the diamondback moth – a small white moth. They will attempt to lay eggs on cabbage plants such as collards, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. I’ll try to get my row covers this week as I haven’t seen any moths yet. If necessary, I treat them with Bt – Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki – every week or two to control them.

If you grow potatoes, their nemesis is the Colorado potato beetle. They also feed on eggplant, tomatoes and peppers. The Colorado potato beetle is known for its ability to quickly develop resistance to repeated insecticide use. Therefore, avoid repeated use of a particular insecticide by rotating the insecticides used. If possible, try to control them early. Examine the underside of the leaves for yellow or orange eggs and crush them. Adult beetles are orange with black stripes and their larvae are brick red to pink/salmon with black heads and two rows of dark spots down the side of their bodies. Handpick the adult beetles and larvae and drop them in soapy water. Bt can be effective when the larvae are small.

There are a few different cucumber beetles to watch out for – the striped cucumber beetle and the spotted cucumber beetle. Both are orange-yellow with stripes or spots. They can damage cucumber foliage, but of even greater concern is their ability to transmit bacterial wilt.

These are just some of the insects to look out for in your garden. Before you break out the insecticide, correctly identify the insect. There are also many good “bugs” in the garden; You don’t want to accidentally damage them through improper use of insecticides.

Just a quick reminder to buy tickets for the 2022 Sauk County Master Gardeners Association Annual Garden Tour on July 30th. My garden is one of 10 on the tour; You can see some of the things I mentioned in my articles. To purchase tickets, visit and search for SCMGA Garden Tour.

For more information or garden questions, contact the University of Wisconsin Madison of Extension Sauk County office at 608-355-3250 or email


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