For the first time in a couple years, we’re harvesting more string beans than we can manage. It’s the good sort of problem farmers hope to have and one we didn’t think was possible this time last year. By September of 2013, our bean plants had been decimated by an ever-growing population of Mexican Bean Beetles–a somewhat recent pest with no indigenous predators. Peppered with holes and lousy with beetle larvae, last year’s beans were too damaged to yield anything substantial.
After getting some advice from fellow farmers, we decided to beat back the beetles this season with a biological control. We brought in some tough guys from New Jersey. Well, more accurately, we ordered two installments of a parasitic wasp called pediobius foveolatus native to India and bred at Rutgers to manage the Mid-Atlantic’s growing problem with beetle damage. If you’re interested in how the wasps take down the beetles (it’s pretty neat stuff!), I recommend checking out this pamphlet from the University of Maryland.
If you want to pass on the gory details, just know that the story has a happy ending. The wasps fought heroically all season long, and we’ve been reaping the rewards. This week’s stakeholder special is bean-oriented, as a shout-out to our hard-working guardians of the garden. In pediobius we trust.