How do I keep bugs from eating my strawberries?


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Hi - I'm mostly new to gardening and planted strawberry plants a couple of weeks ago; I just found one new strawberry eaten by ants and another in the process of being eaten by a different bug - two of them. I can't find a picture matching that bug on the internet and don't know what it is.

If I put diatomaceous earth around the plants, will the strawberries eventually grow to touch the DE and wouldn't that be bad for eating?

I've heard of staking the berries off the ground or placing plastic sheets under and around the plants to separate the berries from the soil.

The plants are mulched with leaves and bark and growing in heavy clay mixed with compost.

What should I do?

Thanks!

Sarah
 
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Hi - I'm mostly new to gardening and planted strawberry plants a couple of weeks ago; I just found one new strawberry eaten by ants and another in the process of being eaten by a different bug - two of them. I can't find a picture matching that bug on the internet and don't know what it is.

If I put diatomaceous earth around the plants, will the strawberries eventually grow to touch the DE and wouldn't that be bad for eating?

I've heard of staking the berries off the ground or placing plastic sheets under and around the plants to separate the berries from the soil.

The plants are mulched with leaves and bark and growing in heavy clay mixed with compost.

What should I do?

Thanks!

Sarah
Diatomaceous Earth works on insects that have a hard exoskeleton but it is useless when it becomes damp. It is also harmless to people and pets when ingested but is slightly harmful if breathed into the lungs. Staking the berries will not stop insects from flying in or crawling up the plant. Plastic sheets? They will just crawl under or over the plastic sheet. You have to know which insect is doing the damage and then we can tell you what to do. Take a picture of all of the insects around and on your plants and we can tell you what they are and if they are harmful. If they are we can tell you how to control them. If you can't find any bugs take a picture of the damage they do. Ants are fairly easy to control. Use a spinosad soil drench around your plants and saturate the mounds. Use Monterey Ant Control all over the garden.
 
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Chuck, thanks so much for the info. I finally got a picture of the insect I saw eating the strawberries - attached. I will look into those ant recommendations, thanks!
 

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Chuck, thanks so much for the info. I finally got a picture of the insect I saw eating the strawberries - attached. I will look into those ant recommendations, thanks!
The insect is a very harmful bug. It's common name is stinkbug. When they are adults such as the one shown contact spraying the bug or physically smashing him is the best way. Residual sprays work but it takes longer. Go through your entire garden and look on the bottom of the leaves for eggs or baby stinkbugs. They will probably be gray with red legs and the eggs will be numerous but in a geometrical pattern. Hopefully the bugs you have now are just passing through.
On the strawberry I would say that it was eaten by a slug or snail. They will live in the soil under your mulch. The best thing for them is called SluggoPlus. The best contact and residual organic spray is a spinosad based product of which there are many. Monterey is the one I use.
 
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Thanks so much for id'ing my bug! And the advice on getting rid of it. I actually saw two of the stinkbugs i side a half eaten strawberry. Do you not think they were eating it? Instead slugs? How are stinkbugs harmful? Thanks for your patience. :) will look for eggs. What do you mean by residual sprays? How do they work? I've tried killing one and they are very fast.
 
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Thanks so much for id'ing my bug! And the advice on getting rid of it. I actually saw two of the stinkbugs i side a half eaten strawberry. Do you not think they were eating it? Instead slugs? How are stinkbugs harmful? Thanks for your patience. :) will look for eggs. What do you mean by residual sprays? How do they work? I've tried killing one and they are very fast.
No, the stinkbugs didn't eat the strawberry. Stinkbugs have a long probiscus like thing where a nose would be and they stick this probiscus into a fruit such as a strawberry or peach or tomato and inject a chemical that rots that area of the fruit. I am fairly sure it is slugs that ate the strawberry. A residual spray is a spray that stays on the plant or fruit for a period of time and when a bug takes a bite he gets poisoned. Contact spray is when the spray is sprayed directly on the bug. And yep, ther're pretty quick. You've gotta sneak up on em. Once you smash one take a deep breath of the fingers you smashed him with. It's an unforgettable aroma.
 
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Ha ha, I'll be sure to do that. Ok, I will look into slug control. One last question - What kind of spray do you recommend for stink bugs, whether contact or residual. I'm trying to stay organic if possible.
 
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Ha ha, I'll be sure to do that. Ok, I will look into slug control. One last question - What kind of spray do you recommend for stink bugs, whether contact or residual. I'm trying to stay organic if possible.
I just reread a post and saw what you recommended already. Sorry about that and thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it!
 
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I just reread a post and saw what you recommended already. Sorry about that and thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it!
The secret with stinkbugs is to get them while they are still eggs or babies. Once they are grown it becomes very difficult to control them. The leaves they prefer to lay their eggs on are squash. I have never seen their eggs on plants with small leaves but that doesn't mean that they don't lay them there. Check everything as often as possible.
 
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Since you're a beginner I will tell you what I have told many others. An organic gardener needs only three or four products to fight against any pest they will encounter. Spinosad, Bt (Bacillus thuringensis) Neem Oil and Sluggo if your area has slugs and snail. Spinosad is a residual and contact pesticide and it is effective against just about everything except snails and slugs. Bt is a must have product that only kills caterpillars. Neem oil is a product that is also a contact/residual insect killer but not nearly as effective as spinosad. It is used to kill eggs of all kinds, for instance, your stinkbug eggs if you find any. It is also a miticide used to kill mites which nearly every gardener faces. Also, it is a fungicide. For instance, it works very well against bean rust. And then the SluggoPlus which you already know about. All of these products are safe for pets and humans.
 
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Since you're a beginner I will tell you what I have told many others. An organic gardener needs only three or four products to fight against any pest they will encounter. Spinosad, Bt (Bacillus thuringensis) Neem Oil and Sluggo if your area has slugs and snail.

Ok - Thanks! I'll make a note of all things and check them out. You've been a great help.
 
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