Monday, May 4, 2009

Springtail Sorrow

I have a tidbit of news that might be of use to your master gardeners who are manning the hotline. Yesterday at our local community garden in Grandview, I noticed massive numbers of the garden springtail all over most seedling veg crops and all over the soil, both in plots with straw mulch and without. There were many on spinach, swiss chard, basil, ground cherry, eggplant, pepper, kale, and lettuce. Not many on tomato or onion.

I met this pest for the first time in 2005 and have tried searching for info on it, but not a lot is known about it.

To the naked eye, it looks very much like an aphid in size and shape, but it jumps when disturbed.

It has chewing mouthparts and chews on seedlings. It has caused serious problems on sugarbeet in Michigan over the past few years. In Ohio a year or two ago I heard from on commercial cabbage farmer who lost a field to it. I think it usually disappears as suddenly as it appears, but I do not know how long we can expect it to be around.

It is not listed on any insecticide labels but we think that any broad spectrum product would kill it. I did a small unreplicated trial yesterday to see how pyrethrins+PBO, pyrethrins+oil, spinsosad, and acetamiprid work; I will check it later today to see if there is any observable result. I am curious if you hear about it from other gardeners.

Celeste Welty, Ph.D.
Extension Entomologist
& Associate Professor of Entomology

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