I am wondering how much veggie plant netting I will need this summer. Will...

Asked February 12, 2014, 3:20 PM EST

I am wondering how much veggie plant netting I will need this summer. Will any of the following die off in this cold winter: Mexican bean beetles, squash vine borers, cucumber beetles, white flies, marmorated stink bugs?

Baltimore County Maryland

6 Responses

It's hard to know how this winter has affected overwintering insect pests. Those that are exposed on trees, for example, may have been hit hard. Whitefly overwinters in greenhouses only in Central MD. The pests you mention overwinter in soil or protected locations in plant residues, leaf litter, and weeds. Remember, they are well-adapted to our climate and have experienced tough winters before.

We assume you are referring to floating row covers when you say "plant netting." This is great stuff. You may also be interested in trying micro mesh (example: Territorial Seed Company) which excludes small insects but will not trap excess heat in mid-summer like row covers.

Thanks so much for your answer. Yes, I think of white flies as critters that infest hot-houses. For the last two years we have had an infestation of triangular white insects about 1/16" long. They prefer the cole crops, especially kale, chard, and collards. They seem to tolerate a certain amount of freezing temps. If they are not white flies, who do you think they are?

If you purchase your transplants you may be dealing with whiteflies. They can overwinter in greenhouses. See our link on whiteflies for more information http://extension.umd.edu/growit/insects/whiteflies

Another possibility may be leafhoppers (wedge shaped) but they are green and not usually a pest on cole crops http://extension.umd.edu/growit/insects/potato-leafhopper

Thanks for your answers so far. I have a few standing kale which I am about to put in the trash. There are still a few lethargic insects on the underside of the leaves. I have attached two photos. Maybe that will help with identification. I should also add that in the summer there are great swarms of these insects on the kale.


Sr. Judy

PS. I should add that I start all of my plants myself from seeds. The only exception is that I bought two Early Girl tomato plants b/c the store plants are bigger than mine and I can get a head start on fruit, but these insects don't seem to like tomato plants.

Sr. Judy

Our entomologist identified the insects in the photos as white flies. There are many species of white flies, and some prefer cucurbits. They could possibly be coming in on the transplants. They would not normally be overwintering. Are you certain the ones on the kale are alive? Did you bring them inside to observe? Is the kale in a location with a micro-climate that is especially protected in the winter? Do you have neighbors that garden who could be bringing in white flies? We'd recommend that you destroy the plants. Do not compost.

This spring garden in a different area if possible. Use row cover.

It's possible that you were also seeing aphids last summer..
You might want to call us so that we pinpoint the problem better.