Ques­tion: What pests should I be on the look­out for in my sum­mer vegie gar­dens, and how can I com­bat them? An­swer: As the days start to get longer, the day­time tem­per­a­tures heat up and the hu­mid­ity in­creases, and so too do some pests and dis­eases in our


Of course, the most com­mon pest of your fruit­ing ve­g­ies in sum­mer is the Queens­land fruit fly. It is the lar­vae or mag­gots of this pest that cause the dam­age, but to con­trol them we need to re­duce the pop­u­la­tion of the adults. The adult flies ap­pear red­dish brown with yel­low mark­ings, are ap­prox­i­mately 7mm long, and lay their eggs into the fruit such as to­ma­toes.

To con­trol them I have found the sim­plest way is to set up a trap. Fruit fly traps can be pur­chased com­mer­cially, but you can make one your­self. Take an empty two litre plas­tic soft drink bot­tle, wash it out thor­oughly, and make a hole in the side of the bot­tle half way up (large enough for a fruit fly to crawl into).

Make up a mix­ture of three ta­ble­spoons of Vegemite with warm wa­ter, and a drop of dish­wash­ing liq­uid. Pour this mix­ture into the bot­tle, re­place the lid, and tie this trap with string to some­thing close to your af­fected plants. You will need to empty the con­tents ev­ery week and re­place it, but this is a cheap and easy way to re­duce the pop­u­la­tion of th­ese pests. For the best re­sults you need to place th­ese traps ev­ery two me­tres if you have a large vegie patch.

Pow­dery mildew is a cos­mopoli­tan fun­gus that can at­tack a wide range of veg­eta­bles. The symp­toms vary from plant to plant, how­ever, com­monly ap­pear firstly as faint white spots on the leaves of your ve­g­ies. Th­ese spots grad­u­ally in­crease in size as the weather con­di­tions be­come more favourable, and es­pe­cially if you over­head wa­ter your ve­g­ies. Even­tu­ally the whole leaf will be covered in a white pow­der, and the buds, fruit and stems can also be af­fected.

Con­trols in­clude re­duc­ing over­head wa­ter­ing and splash from sprin­klers, thin­ning out plants to in­crease air flow, and of course

you can ap­ply a chem­i­cal such as a fungi­cide. There are two main types of fungi­cides: pre-in­fec­tion or pro­tec­tant (e.g. Man­cozeb), and post in­fec­tion or erad­i­cant types of fungi­cides (e.g. Rovral).

Don’t for­get that when us­ing any chem­i­cal en­sure you wear all the ap­pro­pri­ate PPE, es­pe­cially when mix­ing, and al­ways fol­low the man­u­fac­turer’s di­rec­tions in re­la­tion to rates to be ap­plied and when to ap­ply each chem­i­cal. This way you will al­ways get the best re­sults and stay safe.

Another pest you may find in your vegie patch is the bean fly. Th­ese are glossy black flies around 2-3mm long. The adults lay their eggs on the leaves of bean plants, and the symp­toms ap­pear as small yel­low spots. The lar­vae or grubs cause the dam­age by tun­nelling into the main stem and leaf stalks and there­fore are hard to see on the leaf sur­face. The stems and stalks will be­come swollen and cracked and may ap­pear red­dish in colour. If the plants at­tacked are very young they will wilt eas­ily and fall over.

In older plants the parts in­fected will drop off eas­ily. Over­all you will no­tice a drop in your crop yield and qual­ity of the beans.

Plant­ing broad beans is one way of re­duc­ing the in­ci­dence of this pest as they are less af­fected than other va­ri­eties of beans.

Re­duc­ing the weeds around your vegie gar­den can also as­sist in re­duc­ing the in­ci­dence of this pest, es­pe­cially the legume type weeds. Also you can use chem­i­cals such as Ro­gor, how­ever as said be­fore, make sure to fol­low the man­u­fac­turer’s di­rec­tions and al­ways wear your PPE.

Be­ing vig­i­lant in your gar­den and mon­i­tor­ing any prob­lems early at this time of year will en­sure you have a bumper har­vest through­out the sum­mer months.

For more in­for­ma­tion about TAFE Queens­land South West’s hor­ti­cul­ture and land­scap­ing of­fer­ings or for any other cour­ses, please visit www.tafe­south­ or call 1300 914 754.

Dis­claimer: The com­ments pro­vided in this ar­ti­cle are gen­eral in na­ture only and are not a sub­sti­tute for pro­fes­sional ad­vice. The au­thor ac­cepts no re­spon­si­bil­ity for any ac­tion taken by a reader in re­la­tion to this ar­ti­cle.


GROW: Hor­ti­cul­ture teacher Dar­ren David­son (TAFE Queens­land South West) is just one of the ded­i­cated train­ers ready to help you make great things grow.

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