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What is This Insect?

I am a complete novice learning about home vegetable gardening, mostly by trial and error. I need some help. Can you help me identify the pest in the attached photos? It is killing my zucchini and has already killed our banana peppers. I don't know what will fall next.

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I am concerned about using a toxic pesticide. Knowing little, I fear I could damage my soil, and/or at least alter some local ecological systems. I would feel better understanding what confronts me. Where do I go? What do I do? I am grateful for any reply, and thank you in advance for your time.

Hardiness Zone: 11

By Bob

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December 15, 20090 found this helpful

This isn't going to be helpful at all, just a reaction to the photo. Ack!

I have issues with caterpillars. They give me the heebie-jeebies. And those would probably have me running/screaming out of my back yard (possibly running into something and knocking myself out).

I found aphids that popped up on my cucumbers overnight, and used some insecticidal soap on them. I think I used it two days in a row, and that took care of the problem. It looked like the safest thing when I was at the store (said it was safe to use right up to harvest).

Maybe someone will come on and help you identify those brightly-colored, healthy-looking caterpillars (shudder!). If not, check out this link to Dave's Garden BugFiles:

http://davesgarden.com/guides/bf/ Best of luck!

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December 16, 20090 found this helpful

You can spray your garden with the liquid soap from the kitchen. Fill the bottle almost full of water then put 1 tablespoon of soap in the bottle. Call your County Extension off for all the info on gardening. It's free, good luck.

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December 17, 20090 found this helpful

Diatomaceous Earth

Kills Ants, Fleas, Ticks, Cockroaches, Earwigs, Slugs, Beetles, Flies, Silverfish, Bed Bugs, worms and many other pests, naturally, without harsh synthetic chemicals!

Not only that! It works on pets, dogs, cats and equines for worms and parasites. Human grade though. And it isn't costly! It is great stuff!

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December 17, 20090 found this helpful

Try your local college, or extension service. E-mail your pictures. Also a local garden center, just keep the bugs in a capped jar so they can't escape. I have read that diatomacous earth can be deadly to pets. Check with you vet on that one.

What ever you do please use care. Sadly big business agriculture over does the weed killers, and genetic engineered food which can withstand massive doses of roundup is not good for any of us humans.

Dreaming about my garden as the temps are in the teens, and a large snow storm may blanket the landscape this weekend. Good luck with eliminating those awful bugs.

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December 30, 20090 found this helpful

If your garden is enclosed, get some chickens. They'll clean up those critters in a hurry.

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