This is one handsome harlequin! That is, one of the many, many handsome harlequin bugs that have been visiting my garden! I was meaning to investigate the magical world of the powdery and downy mildews but I’ve been seduced by, yet, another bug. Here are the harlequin’s eggs. They do not disappoint!
You can find its eggs on the underside of the leaf of the kale or kohlrabi or other cruciferous plant. The eggs are kind of sticky at first and, then, they harden up so that you can, easily, pick the group of them off. You can, also, see whitefly nymphs and an adult whitefly on this kale leaf. We have an infestation of whitefly on the kale and collards.
The harlequin bug is in the same family as the stink bug. They will suck the life out of your plant if there are sufficient numbers. If you do nothing; there will, likely, be sufficient numbers. Here is good information about managing this insect so that you can try to save some of your crops. I chose one plot of three kale and three collard plants and, diligently, hand pick the eggs and harlequins off. I drown them and, less often, squish them. Over time and with several times per day visitation, this works. I do not recommend any pesticides. At this point, I do not want to spray any organic solutions either. I’ve already interfered by killing off the population of harlequin bugs to save some kale leaves for lunch. I don’t know what else I would disturb by spraying. I’m not ready for the story to end! The whitefly has been ignored and is flourishing. Though, I haven’t seen that they’ve caused significant damage to our kale; they will suck sap out of the plants. They can spread disease among plants. They secrete honeydew which encourages harmful mold growth. What a “bad” bug…this delicate and unassuming creature!
Then, I saw a lacewing (missed the photo op) and have developed a full-blown bug watching agenda. The green lacewing is a beneficial insect that can help bring balance to this whitefly infestation. The larvae of the lacewing will prey on the immature whitefly. The adult will take care of some of the honeydew. Now, be careful of what you are inclined to get rid of. The lacewing larvae are not pretty. Here are some pictures of the lacewing in its stages from egg to adult. You will want to know what they look like.
Just think, if it weren’t for those dear departed harlequins, I might be munching fistfuls of kale, oblivious to this drama. What is next?