Types of Garden Enemies
Fig. 27

VARIEGATED CUTWORM (Peridroma margaritosa).
This is a climbing cutworm damaging to both garden and greenish crops. The ash- colored to brown larva is mottled with darker brown and has a pale yellow dot on most segments. It winters as a pupa, and in spring the gray-brown moth lays masses of eggs on stems or leaves of low plants, on twigs, or on buildings. The larvae climb up stems to eat holes in buds, flowers, leaves, or fruits.

Control. If you are setting out only a few plants, a stiff paper collar around each stem, extending an inch into the soil and 2 inches above, will keep them from harm. Working 10% chlordane into the soil before planting has been helpful. Plants can be sprayed or dusted with DDT. Many cutworm baits are on the market, most of them having Paris green or sodium fluosilicate as a base, but in using them there is some danger of poisoning birds or pets.

Damping-off is the name given to collapse and death of young seedlings just before or soon after they emerge from the ground. Several soil fungi are responsible. Seed can be started in vermiculite or sphagnum, which are practically sterile as far as harmful organisms are concerned. Ordinary garden soil used for starting seedlings in flats can be disinfected by sprinkling 21/2 tablespoons commercial formaldehyde mixed with a cup of water over a bushel of soil. Mix it very thoroughly, fill the flats, let stand 24 hours, plant seed, and then water.

For outdoor planting we usually treat the seed, a slight coating of chemical on the seed coat holding the fungi in immediately surrounding soil in abeyance until the little seedlings get a good start in life. Seed treatment is insurance. If soil is friable, temperature favorable, and seeds germinate quickly, there will often be a good stand without treatment. But if the weather is damp and cold and it takes the seedlings a long time to come through the ground, they are very likely to damp-off. Lima beans almost never do well without a seed protectant. Semesan, a mercury compound, was formerly popular as well as red copper oxide, but now two or three newer materials, Arasan, Phygon XL, and Spergon (now given the common name of chloranil) suffice for most purposes. The amount of chemical used is very small, not over 54 teaspoon per pound of seed. For a packet of seed take just a bit on the end of a knife point, add it to seeds in a jar, shake well until every seed is lightly coated, then turn out on a screen to remove excess dust.

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