This afternoon I was poking around in the alyssum to see what the sow bug population was like because they like to hang out in there during the day and when there's lots of them I toss in a little Sluggo Plus. The sow bugs weren't too bad but I spotted a bug that sent me inside ASAP to do a little research, I had a feeling... Oh crum, I guess it was just a matter of time before it showed up, the new bug turned out to be a nasty invader from Africa called a Bagrada Bug (Bagrada Hilaris). I had seen the pest alert issued by UC and I had also been contacted by caper grower in southern California who had a terrible infestation that ruined her caper crop. This bug's main host is anything in the mustard family. It feeds on many cole crops and other cruciferous plants and it's a huge agricultural pest where it has become established. It has already been found in Monterey county where I live but I hadn't seen it in my garden until today.
|Bagarada Bugs doing IT (you know, IT)|
It turns out that one of the plants that they are very much attracted to is Sweet Alyssum (I had no idea that it is in the brassica family). Indeed, one of the management techniques recommended by UC is to use traps baited with Sweet Alyssum. When I took a look at the Alyssum plants in the path I found scads of these bugs of all ages, adults were mating, little red nymphs were running for cover, they were EVERYWHERE.
So I promptly mixed up a sprayer full of Pyganic/Insectcidal Soap mix. Pyganic is a pyrethrum based organic pesticide and the UC Bagarada Bug Management Guideline suggests that pyrethrum based treatments may suppress the adults. As I pulled the Bagarada Bug infested alyssum from the path and stuffed them into the big plastic bag that you see in the first photo I also took aim at all the BB's I saw and gave them a good spray. I also put the arugula into the bag because that's another plant that the BB's like to feed on. However, I did leave two clumps of alyssum as trap plants in the main path and the outside path where I had found more of the bugs. I've looked around the garden and so far I'm not seeing any of the bugs on the cruciferous plants in the garden. If they love the alyssum so much I'll leave a couple of plants to grow and I'll be checking them every day and eliminating any bugs that I see. I also checked my caper bushes and didn't see any in there either. It seems that the BB's prefer warm spots and they were loving the alyssum that was growing up against the walls of the beds that get full southern exposures.
It saddens me that I'm going to have to limit the growth of Sweet Alyssum in my garden. It is a pretty plant and has been a reliable grower year round and is also very attractive to beneficial insects. Too bad it is also extremely attractive to one really bad bug.