Gardening

Spinach pests: what are they and how to eliminate them with natural remedies

Hello to all gardeners! In today’s article we will focus on pests of spinach . Spinach is one of the crops that we can have in the garden practically all year round, also in the winter garden . Its scientific name is Spinacea oleracea , it belongs to the amaranth family and can be eaten fresh, cooked or fried.

Spinach pests and other crop problems

As we will see below , spinach pests can be very varied. These include spinach worms , green aphids , snails and slugs, nematodes, etc. Now we will take a closer look at each of these spinach problems .

Worms in spinach (Gray worms or Agrotis)

It seems that spinach becomes very palatable to insects of the Noctuidae family from the 6-leaf stage. This species of caterpillars belong to the order of Lepidoptera and to the family of Noctuidae (nocturnal activity). Adults are brown with patterns on the forewings. The caterpillars are gray in color, hence their name. There are usually two generations a year.

The fight against this type of species is not easy since they hide between the leaves of the spinach.

Nematodes: spinach goes dry 

The nematodes can also affect our plants spinach. The most damaging nematodes for spinach are those of the genus Heterodera. This type of nematode can also affect other crops such as: beets, carrots, brassicas, etc. They can even affect some weeds as well.

Among the most common symptoms, the formation of cysts in the roots of plants stands out. I remind you that nematodes are very tiny organisms that live in the soil, which is why they affect the roots.

It is not usually one of the most frequent pests but in the case of detecting it it is convenient to carry out a crop rotation or apply the solarization method.

Snails and slugs

Snails and slugs are one of the animals that are always present in our gardens, to learn how to control them I recommend that you consult the following article: how to eliminate snails and slugs from the garden .

One of the most characteristic symptoms of this pest are bitten or perforated leaves .

Green bugs in spinach: Green aphids

Like the previous ones, aphids are one of the insects that seems to be always present. In the case of spinach, one of the species that is most present is Aphis fabae  (black aphid) or Myzus persicae .

Aphids are usually in colonies between the spinach leaves. Depending on the year, the damage and its presence will be more or less important. When there is an attack of aphids the plant becomes weaker. Also, as we have seen on other occasions, there is a risk that they transmit a virus to our beet plants.

Here is a photo I took of the black aphid during my internship in France.

Galleries or tunnels in spinach leaves

The beet fly , scientifically known as Pegomia betae or Pegomia hyoscyami can also affect our spinach. The adult stage is a light gray fly (like the one you can see in the photo). The eggs are white, very elongated. Eggs are normally found in groups of 3-4 on the underside of leaves.

The larvae break the epidermis of the leaves and penetrate into the leaf tissues. Therefore, one of the most characteristic symptoms of this pest is the formation of galleries in the leaves that can occupy the entire surface. If we observe that our spinach leaves have galleries on the leaves, it may be due to this pest.

If it is any consolation, it is not one of the most frequent pests that we can find.

Growing organic spinach: eliminate pests naturally

Once we know how to identify the main pests of spinach , it is necessary to learn to control them. To do this, we will see different prevention and control methods that you can use in your orchards and gardens.

Spinach pest prevention methods

I remind you that prevention methods are those that will help us prevent the appearance of pests and diseases of spinach .

Among all the preventive methods that exist, the most important ones are listed below:

  • Crop rotation
  • Work the soil before planting to reduce the number of larvae of some insects.
  • Use resistant varieties
  • Solarization (very good at fighting nematodes)
  • Disinfect materials used with diseased cultures.

How to eliminate spinach pests with ecological remedies

On the contrary, the control methods are those that we must apply once we have seen the pests or diseases present in our crop. Here are the most common ones for this crop:

  • The most widely used biopesticides in these cases are Bacillus thuringiensis or Spinosad for caterpillars or Azadiractin for aphids. The Bacillus thuringiensis is in spore form “dry” in boxes. It is very easy to apply and you can find it under different trade names. It is fairly easy to find in garden stores.
  • In the case of slugs or snails you can use, for example, Ferramol . This product comes from materials naturally present in nature (active material: ferric phosphate). For this reason, ferramol is  authorized in organic farming . You can buy it at any organic farming supply store or garden center.

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