What’s Eating the Spinach?

I don’t know how your gardens are looking, but the spinach here in the Demo Garden is looking pretty sad.

Sickly SpinachIt is rather yellow-colored, especially the older leaves. The new leaves are just getting chewed to bits by some unknown pest. The yellowing is easy to diagnose. The poor spinach plants are tired of all the rain, just like the rest of us! If the soil dries out, the spinach will look much better pretty quick.

The critter munching the leaves is something of a mystery though. It’s not a rabbit, because they would just eat the plant down to nubbins. I have also seen some frass on the spinach leaves. (Frass is the polite and scientific way to say insect feces.) However, no insect to be found. The only thing I can find in the spinach row are some roly-polys (aka Pill Bugs). They may be the source of the problem, and there’s really nothing that can be done about it.

In researching a little about pill bugs, I found that they are actually crustaceans, not insects! Who knew? Their preferred diet is decaying organic matter (like soggy spinach?) and they like moist conditions. So. Reduce the rain and soggy soil and plants, get rid of the pill bugs.

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on May 11, 2009, in Family of 4 Garden, Insects Abound!, Plant Problems & Diseases and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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