Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Largus californicus

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QUESTION: I have had the Largus californicus in my garden over the past several years. One year the quail came in and ate them into extinction, however they have returned with all their relatives. I can't seem to find anything mentioned on how to get rid of them, just lots of stuff on what they are and how they reproduce so abundantly. Is there a non chemical way to get rid of them?

ANSWER: Karen:

I normally don't dispense advice on how to "get rid of" any insect.  Largid bugs typically don't affect ornamentals, either, so perhaps it is some other kind of insect?

That said, I'd hand pick them off and drown them in a bucket of water with a couple drops of dishwashing detergent added (to break the surface tension).  Do allow at least 24 hours before you dump out the dead bugs.  Drowned bugs can revive after surprising long periods of submersion. Maybe 48 hours....

Eric

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: If I was to hand pick them, it would be a full time job. There are literally thousands of them and they are ruining my ornamentals. I also have a rather nasty infestation of tiny leaf hoppers and between the 2 my flowers look terrible. They have made their way out to my veggie garden and hand picking them is easier out there. There are not as many. Is there any sort of "attractant" or way to lure them into a dish of soap water? I know you can use beer for slugs & snails but what about these bugs?

Answer
Karen:

First off, I'd dispense with ornamentals in favor of native plants that are stronger because they are adapted to the soils and climate of your region.

Second, I would tolerate "weeds" like wild carrot and composites that attract wasps and other predatory and parasitic insects that would curb the populations of pest species.

Seriously, we need to re-think gardening entirely.  My wife and I have a plot in a community garden, but we have little problem with pests because the immediate landscape around the garden is full of plants that attract the predators and parasites.  We also tolerate some damage to plants, especially if it is merely cosmetic.

Don't get me started on lawns.  I would advocate for a "mullet" approach to landscaping:  food garden in the front yard, wildlife habitat in the backyard.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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