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green beans and pill bugs

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Yikes, my container green bean is doing well, but I planted a row in the ground and pill bugs are having a feast on them.

Does anyone have a way to combat these little critters? Hopefully an organic way?

LiseP

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

A couple of years ago something was getting my tomato seedlings, just sawing them off at ground level. I couldn't figure out what it was every morning I just found more sawed off plants. I finally put a ring of sevin dust (not organic) around the few remaining seedlings, when I went out the next morning I thought rabbits had somehow gotten in because of all the droppings. Then I realized that I wasn't looking at droppings but hundreds of dead pill bugs. I have seen a few recent post where people are trying to figure out what is eating their seedlings the only reason I'm sure what was getting mine is because I found the dead bugs. I only applied the dust one time but if I hadn't I wouldn't have known what was geting my seedlings and I didn't want to lose them all. Good Luck I think they are more distructive then many people realize, I was just lucky enough to actually find out what was eating my plants.
Lisa

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks, yes, I'm sure it is the pill bugs, they were actively gathered all over the sawed off pieces -- looked like one was even carrying a little piece off.

I'm going to try a row of chili powder -- although out of 14 or so plants, there are only 2 left to save, so I'm going to have to plant more to even conduct a decent experiment, I guess. I'm thinking that the pill bugs like damp and dark (maybe all bugs do?). Anyway I planted my beans right along the foundation of my trellissed patio, with the idea that the beans would grow up the trellis walls, but it seems that putting a plant right next to the underside of a deck was akin to putting a piece of cheese next to a mousehole.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Try used coffee grounds. I've had some success with using them as a barrier to keep the pill bugs out of my house and off plants. Just sprinkle them at the base of the plant and out about 2" or so. You can get them free at Starbucks!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I just found a mess of pill bugs inside the cardboard collar of a tomato I'm trying to revive. I removed the collar, since it seemed to be giving them shelter, and tried coffee grounds. Now I'm wondering whether that's what's doing in my tomatoes, and not cutworms!

Tonto Basin, AZ

greenhouse_gal, I made collars from the top half of a plastic drinking cup. Kept the pillbugs at bay.

Frank

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Do you mean the disposable kind, that people use as pots for seedlings? The red ones seem popular. And how do you cut plastic without making a mess?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I thought pill bugs were harmless! I have thousands of them in the garden. I thought they only ate decaying matter. No wonder my seedlings haven't done well this year! My mother used to put scrunched-up newspaper inside empty up-side-down pots on a stick, and then killed the pill bugs the next day, now I know why.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

After reading so many posts about plants getting killed by cut worms even though none were ever seen on the plants, I too think that the truly guilty party was pill bugs. Since I actually saw them, even though my finding them was just dumb luck. I no longer apply mulch until the plants are much larger because I think they like to hide in it. Now if I could get rid of the carpenter ants in the house.
Lisa

Tonto Basin, AZ

greenhouse-gal, I use a pocket knife & punch through the side about 2" below the rim & then carefully work around the perimeter. But scissors would probably be easier. The cups are hard plastic - too slippery for the sow bugs to climb. I clear all mulch & organic stuff from immediately around the plant, exposing bare soil, then put the cup over the plant rim side up & pit just dirt around the edge so that no bugs can crawl under.

HoneyBeeNC, they will definitely do in small tomato seedlings, I've caught 'em in the act.

Frank

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Frank, I have some paper cups so I used them, and cut them with a serrated knife that goes through almost everything. So far I have some of my eggplants set out that way, but the gnats were so bad I couldn't finish up. Looks like I did pretty much what you suggested just by instinct. I sprinkled coffee grounds around some of my tomatoes, too.

I wonder why this is a problem this year and never was in the past. Maybe the compost I used on the garden - or maybe all the rain?

Tonto Basin, AZ

They eat decomposing organic material, and they like dark and wet. So compost and rain sound like just their cup of tea.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks ever so much about the idea of the plastic cup collars and also the coffee grounds. I keep all my coffee grounds for my compost pile, so it's easy to divert some. I am feeling a little more hopeful.

I also did see an ad about "ecosmart" spray that will target these critters. It said environmentally safe, but you know....coffee grounds still seem like a more me-friendly option.

Thanks again, guys!

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

1lisac~orange oil spray will get rid of the carpenter ants.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Stephanie-Do you mean the furniture oil spray?
Lisa

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

This is a good thread. Thanks! Linda

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

No. You can buy orange oil in the organic section of Lowe's and at many garden centers. Just dilute it in some water in a spray bottle and spray it along the ant trail. You can also use it to clean greasy spills in your kitchen or your oven. I've also heard that you can use Simple Green to kill ants, but I've never tried that.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

My green beans are now collared and caffeinated. We'll see, and thanks again for the tips! I learn soooooo much on this forum.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I can't collar all of my beans, but I'm going to try caffeinating them. I still found some pill bugs around a caffeinated tomato plant, though.

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

Lots of home gardeners like to play with home remedies and that's fine, but if you want to seriously get rid of pill bugs use Bug & Snail Bait by Green Light and apply in the late afternoon or evening in flowerbeds and vegetable gardens.

Jerry

This message was edited May 16, 2009 10:58 AM

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the carpentar ant info. I've been told not to kill the scouts because the queen will just make more. I've been told I may have to drill holes in the wall to get to the nest. I go through this every spring and think they are dead then the next year they come back.
As for the pill bugs I think it is really important that we know what the enemy is. I think a lot has been blamed on cut worms when it was really pill bugs.
Lisa

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

How can you tell they're Carpenter ants?

See all the tiny Budweiser cans?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Molamola- ROTFL You have me in tears laughing. My husband is a Carpenter and so it is extra funny to me (he doesn't drink). I know they are Carpenter Ants because I have had a pest company out here, a few years back and the ants have black butts. They bodies have 3 segments and the last one is black and they are huge. They are around a window that is downstairs but I also find the scouts upstairs in my bathroom.
Also, there are wood shavings around the window so they are taunting me with the damage they are doing. Two years ago I even had the window removed and I thought I had them all. I tried treating for them a couple of days ago and got a minor swarm. I just want them gone organic or not. Maybe I will try another forum about pest contol.
Thank you for making me laugh.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Are they coming in from outside? If so, treat around your house with beneficial nematodes. They'll attack the mound and you'll be done with 'em. You could also try applying Mound Drench, a Nature's Guide product formulated by Howard Garrett if you can find them outside.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Unless I can hang the nematodes from the roof om my back poarch it won't work. They normal don't travel on the ground I have never been able to find their parent colony where the queen is, but I'm really going to look for it now. From everything that I have read this type of ant has to be treated differently then all other ants, if you really want to get rid of them and I really want to get rid of them!

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

Heehee.

Carpenter Ants are affectionately named that because they live in dead wood. No mounds, and you can almost be unaware of them until whatever wood(your house!) they are boring their tunnels in are disturbed.

They are BIG shiny black guys. Quick and quick tempered, they don't sting, but they sure can bite. I remember we cut down an old half dead, rotted oak tree and they boiled out, wowee. Those little Budweiser cans were all over the yard for months.

I heard that joke thirty years ago, and it still makes me giggle.

Thumbnail by Molamola
Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

We had carpenter ants in our house when we first moved in. Started treating organically inside and out using an organic pest control company and we've not had a problem since. That's been 4 springs ago now. We do see the occasional lone ranger, but they are few and far between.

Sonoita, AZ(Zone 8a)

Back to pill bugs for a sec.
I have had them for years,but not like the problems I am having this year! I am on 3rd plantings on some of my crops. I do believe that the mulch I used to keep my soil moist to protect my germinating seeds as made a haven for the little turds! I did use some Seven powder out of desperation on and around a few plants, but don't want to use any more!
I did some research and found someone suggesting Sluggo® Plus as a way of getting rid of the pill bugs. I couldn't find any at the local stores, but did find Snail & Slug Bait with the same active ingredient Iron Phosphate, but the Sluggo® Plus has 'Spinosad' bacteria. Don't know if the bacteria will make the difference or not, therefor I have not tried the stuff I bought yet.
I have had minimal luck with the coffee grounds.
Sonoita

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I have gone some research on the pill bug thing and as far as I can tell coffee grounds are only good for ants. Using coffee grounds can also greatly affect the PH of your soil making it acidic which some plants really don't like. I have read that coffee grounds are good for composting at a rate of no more then 25% and a great fertilizer but very concentrated. I'm a true believer in using what you know will work if that is the only way you are going to get fresh veggies. I know I'm not being politically correct but if my only option is to use chemicals or buy my produce at the grocery store I would put dust around the plants not on them. If this is your third attempt you need something that you are sure will work not an experiment. I only had to use sevin dust one time 2 years ago but at least my family got fresh nutritious veggies, and not store bought.
Lisa

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

Amazing.

I haven't seen a pill bug(rolly-polly) here yet, but every pest is here in the Caribbean, so there must be pill bugs! This is a good thread, good info!

25% coffee grounds? Somebody live next to the factory? Them's a LOT of coffee grounds.

I have birds and bats and rats eating all my mangoes, when they're little, green and hard as rocks. Boooo.

Owell!

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the thoughts about coffee grounds. The soil around here is very alkaline, so something acidic is probably just what the doctor ordered, but I will be careful about putting too much very close to the plants.

It's early, but so far I'm happy with the plastic collars. I cut up a couple cottage cheese containers and a soda bottle into rings for that.

I would think that even with already established plants, one could make a cut in the ring, slip it onto the plant and then reattach the ends, either with tape or by making a slit in opposing sides and slotting them together (slide slot A into slot B).

Just yesterday I saw a TV video clip that talked about wrapping the bottom couple of inches of a stem with aluminum foil. They were talking about cut worms, not pill bugs but since cut worms have also been an issue for some, thought I'd share. I would think it would be a deterrent for any creepy-crawly.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Molamola~I don't know how big your mango tree is or how many fruits you have on it, but can you put some kind of net or pantyhose/stocking over the fruits until they ripen? I've seen pics of people doing that for their peaches and tomatoes and it seems to keep the birds and bugs off, but still allows the fruit to mature and ripen.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

So far, with paper cup collars, my newly planted peppers are doing well. On the other hand, something is chewing little holes in my bean leaves! Arrrrrrg!

Christiansted, VI(Zone 11)

I've bagged some fruit, the trees are over twenty feet tall.

I want a big screen house full of earthboxes for all my gardening!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I had "holey" green bean leaves when they first started growing. I couldn't find anything and hate to use tough chemicals so spritzed the leaves with diluted Murphys vegetable oil soap. It took care of that on the eggplant leaves as well.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Podster, thanks for the tip. I just went out and sprayed my beans and eggplant with a Murphy's Oil solution, too. It would be wonderful if that did the trick; I really don't like rotenone, which is the next line of defense.

There were some small reddish beetles on a few of the bean leaves, so I assume they're the culprits.

Leslie

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

What works for spider mites? I have used neem oil and it seems to work but I was wndering what everybody else uses.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I went to Lowe's and HD yesterday evening and neither carries the Green Light Slug & Snail Bait...what's your next recommended brand?

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I got some Sluggo Plus the other day to try. I plan on putting it down tonight.

According to my bug book, spider mites attack only unhealthy plants, so the first thing you want to do is get your plants and soil healthy. To treat naturally, ladybugs and green lacewings are good, but they take time. So while you're building up that population, you can spray garlic-pepper tea and seaweed mixture every 3 days for 9 days to take care of them. You can also use a citrus spray, but if you don't dilute it enough, it'll kill your plants.

Sonoita, AZ(Zone 8a)

I read the label for Green Light snail & Slugg Bait and it does not indicate pill bugs as one of their target bugs.
Texasrockgarden, are you sure Green Light works on pill bugs?

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