This past summer, one of our greatest challenges (we’ve had many!) were a small insect that flew like a moth. They were EVERYWHERE, on nearly every plant in our yard. I spent an hour or so trying to find photos online of this bug, but how does one search for an image of a bug when one doesn’t even know what it is?
So, I wrote to one website and sent photos, asking if they knew what it was. By the time I received an answer two days later, Andrew had found an image online somewhere and identified this bug. It amazed me that even the local garden shop experts didn’t know what it was, and yet this bug literally had a population of hundreds in our yard alone. Andrew is a wiz at finding answers online. He’s also the one who identified the Mignonette Vine, a horrible pest plant here in New Zealand.
Anyway, the insect is a Passion Vine Hopper, and it lives by sucking sap from plants. Just about any kind of plant. Our globe artichoke was having a rough time with them, but after squishing dozens of them and spraying with Mavrik, we finally removed the threat there. Most of our garden boxes are covered boxes, and so the plants in them were not affected. But the passion vine hopper is so small that it was able to get into one of our covered boxes.
Well, a couple days ago, as I was checking out our new seedlings (winter crops of carrots, onion, spinach, etc.), I saw that there were eggs the stems of our two marigold plants. I also saw a few of the hoppers on the plant, and so I went online (the internet is very resourceful!) and confirmed that the eggs were from the passion vine hopper.
And during my search for images of eggs from the passion vine hopper, I saw an image on Google search that looked very familiar, and so, even though the photo wasn’t of eggs, I clicked on it. Sure enough, it was a photo that I took, the photo that I used at the garden shops and which I sent to the website to ask what it is. He published my question, my two photos, and his answer.
So, today, I’ll go out and pull up the entire plant and toss it into our wood burning stove to be sure to get all of the eggs. The marigold has given us way more flowers than I had expected, which we dried and will use as insect repellent on other veges. So, I don’t mind losing our two plants; we were going to pull them up in a week or so anyway, to free up the space for winter veges. (Marigold is supposed to be a great insect repellent plant, but only for specific insect pests. I guess Passion Vine Hopper isn’t one of those.)
I still have to do a bit of study to determine whether these that I see are the actual eggs, which I doubt, or scars from the eggs being laid INSIDE the stems. I’ll cut open a stem later today and let you know.
I cut open some of the stems with those notches in them, and I still can’t figure out what’s going on. Are they hopper eggs, or scars from where the hoppers laid eggs inside the stem, or something else entirely?
Because I can’t figure it out, I’ve decided to leave the marigolds growing awhile longer, to see if after another couple weeks, I can see if the stems look any different.