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Chewing it up: pests to be on the lookout for this summer

By Gregg Eyestone

A reminder that the garden tour is today from 1 to 5 p.m. The KSU Gardens at 1500 Denison Ave. is a good place to start. I hope you can participate.

One of the joys of gardening is the new challenges from season to season. I’m discovering new pests as well as earlier arrivals in my garden. The key to management is to be out in the garden observing what is taking place.

Last night, I discovered that the tops of several tomatoes were chewed off. This must be deer. It is the first time I have had this occur on tomatoes. I had the water scarecrow set up in the rose garden since the deer had been grazing on them. Barriers and repellents may need to be brought out. The family dog must be sleeping during his watch.

Bagworms are not new, but their hatch and feeding is much earlier than normal. Look for the small worms on all of your plants. They prefer junipers, spruces and arborvitae. July 4 is typically when I celebrate the blasting of bagworms but that could be too late this year. Most readily available insecticides kill bagworms when used according to label directions.

K-State Research and Extension entomology has a weekly newsletter sent by email each week. Last week’s issue indicated the feeding of the Genista caterpillar on Baptistia. Sure enough, two were found chewing on the leaves. Not enough to warrant anything other than picking them off.

Numerous caterpillars have chewed on many different spring vegetable crops. I’m anticipating cucumber beetles, bean leaf beetles and hornworms visiting my summer vegetables anytime. They are likely to have some additional friends join in the banquet that I’m not expecting.

Pillbugs are a continuous management challenge for me. Referred to as roly-poly’s, this pest chews on tender new growth of my ornamentals. I rely on the toads to keep them in balance but I find a need to treat small plants to get them established.

Get outside and look at your plants. Let me know if you find anything interesting going on. It will make me feel better to know that I don’t have all the new challenges.

If you would like additional information on a horticulture topic, please contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension. Gregg may be contacted by calling 537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: and at

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