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Leek moth

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Gardens are flourishing, but so are the pests. It seems like we just got started gardening and now it's already time to start battling the insects! It's a never-ending battle!

You'd think some crops, like the alliums, leaks, garlic and onions are not a problem, right? Who's going to eat them? Well, there's a new pest in town! It's called the leek moth. It's actually been around, but mostly confined to Northwestern Vermont. But now they've found it in about 10 different counties in northern and central Vermont. And it goes after all of those alliums. It starts with the garlic this time of year. If you look at the leaves you can see that some of them have been chewed on. If you look down right in the center of the plant you'll find a smallish caterpillar. It's going to start eating the center of that plant out. It can really wreak havoc with the garlic crop. This first generation isn't so bad because you can control it. But the second and third generation will attack leeks, which is a longer season crop and the onions, too. The caterpillar can actually tunnel down into the bulbs.

There are a number of different ways the leek moth attacks, but we are starting to figure out ways to handle it.

So for this first generation in the garlic, you can spray something called Bt, or Thuricide. That's organic, and you can spray it on the leaves and it will kill the caterpillars before they really take over. Plus you are going to be pulling this crop out of the ground in about one month, so it's not usually that big of an issue.  

But for the leaks and the onions, the best thing is to cover them up so the moths can't get in there to lay their eggs. This is a night-flying moth so you want to make sure it's especially covered at night. During the day, you can open it up, but cover it at night, and that way the moth won't lay any eggs, and your leeks and your onions will be able to survive the season. You can use a floating row cover, or this micro mesh which is nice because you can kind of see through it. Either one of these will keep the moth from laying eggs.

~By Charlie Nardozzi

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