Garden pests: flea beetles
Mary Stickley-Godinez

Arrrgh! I don’t believe it. I come strolling out into my garden to check and see how my various veggie babies are doing, and there they are — covered in every critter possible. Potato beetles on the potatoes, asparagus beetles on the asparagus, flea beetles on the bok choi and the radishes, harlequin stink bugs on the kale, cabbage loopers on the broccoli.

All of them, just munching away. They don’t even have the grace to duck under a leaf to hide. And, right at the end of the row, a groundhog, with his mouth full of my peas — my beautiful snap peas. My snap peas that I hover over each year waiting, drooling like Pavlov’s dog, watching those tiny shoots turn into pale green leaves and graceful tendrils while soft white blossoms open, each morning measuring the pods, waiting for the first pick — which was supposed to be this morning. And there he sat, eyeing me as he chewed, swallowed and reached down leisurely to grab another mouthful.

I do everything I can to create a natural space that draws in the good guys. I have rows of flowers that are mixes designed to attract predators. I put mulch on the ground and compost in the soil. My gardens are planted in layers — trees; tall, medium and small shrubs; perennials and groundcovers. And in these I have included many native plants to help support a wide range of insects.

I also leave other spaces wild. I have drinking water and bare soil to encourage the solitary wasps and bees. There are bird boxes on every post and bags of nesting material as well. Everything I can do to bring them in. Of course, if there isn’t an insect for them to…