Return to the Organic Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Posted by julianna_il z6 IL (My Page) on
Fri, Jan 2, 09 at 11:56

I replied in an old message, and wanted to give this a post of its own.

Last year, I started using Kaolin Clay (Surround WP is the brand name), and I'm sold on it now. In fact, in 2009, I'm planning on using that for all of my pest problems (plus the iron phosphate slug bait).

Basically, you just spray it on everything that might have a problem, it creates a grayish film and the pests don't like it. It has a bad taste and is sticky on their little feet. But it's safe for everybody, including our precious bees.

I tend not to spray veg. flowers because I don't want to repel the bees, but I've *read* the bees aren't bothered by it. I did, however, spray it on cucumber flowers because cucumber beetles love those, and had no shortage of cucumbers.

The one thing I'll do differently this year is to use it from day one. As soon as my plants go into the ground, or seedlings erupt and are strong enough, I'll be spraying them with the clay. The only downside is that it does cast a film of gray on your lush green color. (Pic urls at bottom of this post)

By doing it *before* the pests arrive, you've set up the plants to be distasteful from the start. Then when they come, they'll probably move on to a better place. I did it mid season, and still had very good results.

The main foes I have are flea beetles on eggplants, cucumber beetles and squash vine borers. Oh, and some kind of leafhopper sucker insect that likes my dahlias and tomatoes.

As long as I kept it sprayed on the eggplants, the flea beetles were GONE! At most I might see one or two lonely guys wandering around slowly. As soon as the clay wore off, they were back in mass.

It also worked well on cucumber beetles. YES!

You do have to be diligent, however, and reapply when it wears off or you have hard rain. With no rain, I found every week or two was enough. I just did my daily check, and if I saw one of my foes, reapplied and they left.

By the time I finally mixed some up, the squash vine borer lady had already laid her bad eggs. This year, I'll be totally coating all of my squash and hopefully she'll go somewhere else. We'll see, but everything I've read is positive.

I'm really sold on this stuff. It's safe, easy to use if you get yourself a sprayer (too much to use one of those hand pump squirter things) and pretty darned effective!

The down side:
--Cost, it's about 25 bucks for a five-pound bag and hard to find in that size. (It's marketed to orchards by the huge bag) But the bag will probably last the home gardener three years, maybe more.
--Appearance, the gray film isn't that pretty, but it is when you realize how great it is.
--Applying: you need to continually shake up your sprayer to keep it mixed up.

Here are some pics of how it looks when sprayed:

http://www.hort.wisc.edu/mastergardener/Features/pesticides/surround/Combs_kaolin.jpg

http://garden.org/images/App/articles/2458a.jpg

And Gardens Alive has it in five-pound bags (search for Surround WP on the net...that's the brand name)

http://www.gardensalive.com/product.asp?pn=8072


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

julianna, That good news. I hope that young plant's growth isn't inhibited by the film. I have some left from fruit tree spraying....that wasn't working to my satisfaction on large trees and I was planning to try it out.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

I wonder if that stuff would discourage squirrels and rabbits????????


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Great news. We had to forgo cucumbers and squash last year because of the beetles. It really dropped the community garden donations to the food bank. I'll check around to see if I can get a 25lb. bag somewhere local and we can divide it among all the local gardeners.

I was diligent with the BT this year and we had great cabbage and broccoli and even got the few brussels sprouts to produce. I look forward to a great year this coming year.

It was great of you to report your results. Thanks!


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

The USDA researchers that discovered the value of clay as an insect repellent think the clay confuses the insect so it does not recognize the target, your crop, and therefore stays away. Like many other insect controls this must be used judiciously since the clay also appears to be a repellent for the beneficial insects out there. There are also people working on binding some insecticides to the clay particles since they do not seem to grasp that the clay, by itself, is repellent enough.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Kimmsr, I agree about the beneficials, which was why I've been hesitant to spray any flower parts. But I do heavy companion planting, specifically to bring in the beneficials.

I'm tolerant of pest munching unless it's to the point of killing my plants or stopping fruit production. That's why the cuke beetles are my worst foe - they kill every cucumber plant with their disease. Last year was the FIRST year I didn't lose most cucumber plants to bacterial wilt.

So by interplanting flowers that the beneficials like and using the clay on vegetables, it created a good balance. I had so many beneficials last year that I felt like I was walking through a wonderland. I've never seen so many bees or types of bees. And all of my bugs got used to me and we worked together. I can't describe how glorious it was.

I highly recommend trying companion planting and mixing things up. I actually had a small community of soldier bugs and witnessed what they do. (Not pretty when they got one of my monarch cats) I think I spent as much time on bug sites as I did working the garden. It was fascinating!


 o
Surround WP

I'm not sure how it would affect young seedlings' growth. The marketing info says it actually helps growth, and that it helps prevent sun scald. I know that where I used it, things grew just fine. I guess I'll find out this year. LOL.

I love the idea of sharing a bag for the community garden!!!

Organicguy, if rabbits are a problem, I highly recommend Shake Away if you haven't tried that. I got rid of a huge population of wild rabbits with it. Squirrels are another issue - they're crafty. But I did spray my tomato fruits with it, and they left them alone. I should mention, though, that I was also using Shake Away around the perimeter of that garden, and I also grew extra tomato plants closer to the squirrels' big tree. Those plants were just for the squirrels and I just let them go wild. No staking or compost tea, nothing. The squirrels seemed to enjoy them. LOL.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

I went to the local feed store and asked the oldtimer about Kaolin Clay. Right off he asked me what I was planning on using it for. I told him I wanted to experiment...he said it was used for grasshoppers. I said I was planning on trying it to confuse some other pests. He nodded his head and said he gets it in the spring.

He also said the onion plants will be in next week.....Yippee. Something to plant outside again.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

I knew there was a reason to come to this forum!!!!

Below is information about what the Univ of FL found in their study of thrips and blueberries. Surround WP proved to be the most effective product used.

There is a very long paper entitled 'Particle Films: A New Technology for Agricultur, D. Michael Glenn, U.S. Dept of Ag., Appalachion Fruit Research Station in W.V. It gives a very long and seemingly complete background.

So it is the Antropod insects that this is so effective against. In case anyone has missed it, it's not a pesticide. It is considered a crop protectant. Every bit organic.
This is effective against (among others) RUST MITES, SHARPSHOOTERS AND THE PSYLIDDS!! (wait till the citrus forum hears about this)
Brass

The Sharpshooter threatens the grape industry wherever it is, but the grape people of California know about this stuff. The State of Washington apple and pear people know about this stuff. Why are the Bayer people doing so much with the citrus industry -- with their 'never mind the bees' mentality.
Brass

Here is a link that might be useful: Blueberries and Surround WP


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

julianna_il - I have a rabbit or two, but the squirrels are what do the real damage. I know most of the amimal repellants are basically made from blood meal, so I was thinking about desolving some in water ane spraying around the perimeter of the garden. I have given up with my fruit tree's but maybe that would help with them too. Anyone ever tried it?


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

I actually haven't used blood meal, though I've heard of using it.

The Shake Away is made of various predator urines and then dried into a powder. You sprinkle it around and it's supposed to scare the critters into thinking there's a fox, bobcat, or some other bad guy who will eat them.

I still say a good dog is the best squirrel repellent in the world.

The squirrels eat the fruit off your fruit trees??? What kind of fruit?


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Squirrels used to "taste test" my apples when we had apple trees at a previous house. Even with 2 young squirrel-chasing dogs. I think the dogs just made it a sport for the squirrels.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

A 25 pound bag of Surround WP (that's the Kaolin Clay Julianna is using)$29.99 at Agriculture Solutions.

Organicguy... my sister got one of these plastic owls that moves its head and every morning she brings it in the house and later on she will put it in a different place outdoors and she no longer has racoon problems. Maybe it would work with rabbits and squirrels too.
Brass


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Some animal repellents do have blood meal as one of the ingrediants although those most effective seem to have rotten eggs as the main ingrediant. Blood meal, spread around the garden, as meal not diluted and sprayed, has been used, somewhat effectively, for many years.
The single most effective method I have found to keep thingys such as rabbits or deer out of the garden is with a good, tight fence around the planting beds. Since squirrels and raccoons climb the same mesh fence over the frame that holds the fence fabric will suffice to keep them out. It is a bit of a pain to have to remove the cage around a planting bed to work in there but I do get the harvest from that.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

julianna_il
I have 2 pear tree's and 2 apricot trees, and they clean off every single piece of fruit. When I had my dog, I at least got some pears. Now . . . nothing. They don't even wait for them to ripen. As soon as the fruit is formed, they start eating them. These are tree rats from Hell!


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

About Surround WP (Kaolin Clay)
Here is a web site that has pics. of the Anthropod insects. While there is no mention that this clay prevents the Leaf Miner -- the adult is a moth -- and the moth is an Anthropod. I must get some of this stuff!!! I have citrus trees and those critters make me crazy. Another thing...This clay causes the insects that use the oviposition to lay their eggs get all clogged up and can't get the job done. I could sell this stuff.

Something that might interest someone with a young tree or a tree that doesn't have much of a canopy to shade itself from the heat of the sun (specifically, the UV rays) but still provides for complete photosynthesis is this clay.

Also, this gray coating of the clay washes off and so repeated applications need to be made for effective results.

This brings up the consideration about blueberries and grapes -- I don't know the marketing process for these fruits, but I think that washing the fruit removes the natural protective coating -- there probably is some fungicide kind of product used to correct this. I haven't tried to find out about this process. But for home gardeners that want to sell their fruit, this would be a consideration. (Fruit with a gray coating wouldn't be very marketable.)

OrganicGuy...
I used to cover the couple apple trees I had with a black net fabric that I got from the fabric store. I used cloths pins to fasten the large piece or pieces together. I was having deer problems. While those nets were up I noticed that there were no aphids on the new growths. In fact, I used bolts of this material to cover almost everything. You just need to move the net around when you suspect you have new growth -- otherwise, the new growth will grow through the net and is almost impossible to release. My trees didn't have fruit but the deer ate the leaves (not just new leaves). Black was the least noticable colored netting. If you leave the netting out all summer, by the end of the summer it will have degraded somewhat. It tears easily when its degraded.
Brass

Here is a link that might be useful: pics of Anthropode collection at Clemson Univ.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Geez, I'm going to have to stop feeling sorry for myself when a squirrel takes a couple of tomatoes. IN all my years of gardening, I never had a squirrel until my neighbor moved and took his dogs (a pit bull and little yappy dog). They were behind a six-foot solid fence, but the main tree is right next to that fence. And before living here, I always lived way out in the country, had at least one dog and one cat (usually more) who were allowed outside.

I literally lived on the edge of a national forest full of deer, and the only deer to ever come in the yard was a carcass my dog found and dragged in. (Hunting leftovers...some hunter was missing his nice pelt and head)

Maybe it was my particular dogs, who were rambunctious, or the dog/cat combo.

My squirrels "taste test" as well. I think I wouldn't mind as much if they ate the entire tomato and at least had a nice meal. But they find the most beautiful, ripest tomato (often a giant Caspian pink I've been watching for days), take one or two bites, and throw it in the yard.

I'd never heard of Agriculture Solutions - that's an unbelievable price for 25 pounds. Everywhere else, I've seen it at close to 100 bucks for that much. Maybe the price has gone down? (I don't have any idea what shipping might be) Bookmarked! And thanks for that name - they have lots of organic stuff.

In reading and watching garden shows, it seems the consensus for squirrels is what Kimmsr says: build something they can't get through. Joe Lample showed some cages he built with wood frames and chicken wire. (This was for tomatoes)

If an inventor can invent an effective squirrel repellent, s/he's going to be a hero and make a zillion dollars.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Hi Julianna! I'm so glad I found this post.

I grow about 250 roses here in Illinois, and have struggled with a JB infestation for the past two years. My main control has been handpicking, and I am interested in your use of Surround WP because it is bee-friendly.

A couple of questions...do you grow any roses, and if so, did the Surround WP make the roses less desirable to the JBs? Were there any detrimental effects on the rose blossoms or foliage?

Last year, the JBs started here in July and didn't leave until late October, so I'm trying to get a head start on any new repellents and controls. It's really hard to face a third year of beetlemania in my garden. Any other comments or observations would be helpful. Thanks much!
-terry


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Have you tried Milky Spore Virus on the surrounding area?


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Milky Spore might work if you treat the entire state of Illinois. Darn beetles have wings.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

OMG, the Japanese beetles. LOL. I had them kind of bad last year, or at least bad for me. A pile of them arrived and had a big orgy. I'm still traumatized by that sight, but most of them ended up in the can of death. (Soapy water)

They loved my hibiscus (the kind you take in over winter, not the hardy kind). I did do some spraying on the hibiscus with the clay, and when I did a good coating, they moved to another plant. (Butterfly weed, oddly)

I don't grow roses, but I would assume if it worked on the hibiscus, it would probably work on the roses. The downside is that you have to spray EVERY SPOT. Under the leaves, etc. They didn't bother the flowers, just the foliage, so I didn't spray the flowers. Do they bother rose flowers or the buds? So when you coat everything in this, it dries to a grayish film. It's not what I would call ugly, but it does downgrade the brilliant color of foliage in a garden.

My JB "invasion" didn't last long, though. Maybe two weeks at most. Then they were gone. I'm not very experienced with JB because this is only the second or third year I've seen any. The first year or two, I maybe had two or three bugs total and handpicked them. So I don't know if the WP ran them off, or if that's the lifecycle south of you. I'm down by St. Louis, which is zone 6a.

As for hurting the plants, I just don't think it hurts them at all, other than the appearance because of the film. (I'm not bothered by the appearance, but that's me...someone else might think it's horrible; also, my pest problems are more with my vegetables than with flowers, so I'm not dowsing brilliant flowers in it)

And I'd rather have the gray film than dead plants. :)

Anything you cut for inside could be easily rinsed off.

Have you considered the nematodes for JB? I know those aren't cheap either, and I've never tried nematodes. Every year I get tempted, though.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

You don't have to treat a very large area. They emerge from the ground and feed in the immediate area. They don't fly all that far. The milky spore is very effective for long term control.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Thanks for the info, Julianna. I'm by the Peoria area; not too far from you. We have about 3 acres in a rural subdivision; close to farmland. Last summer was the 2nd year of the invasion. The JBs invaded my wisteria, Weeping Snow Fountain Cherry tree, hardy hibiscus, and they tormented the daylights out of my prized roses. They seemed to like certain ones better than others, though.

I guess I'll be dragging out the ole' bucket of soapy death again this year. We had massive amounts of rain last summer, which will for sure be a good breeding year for JBs (sigh). This is a endless topic of conversation on the rose forum towards summer, but I thought I'd start researching early for any new signs of hope.
-terry


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Funny that's not what the rose people I know say about milky spore. And these are dedicated rose people who spend lots of time growing them and are willing to try all controls.

Maybe it works better in some states than others.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

I had a serious JB problem several years ago. I applied the Milky Spore Virus around my and there has not been a JB to be seen since. I have heard many similar reports from other gardeners over several states. Maybe the problem the rose folks had was unique, or they didn't apply enough or correcly. I would be interested to hear is other had success with it as well.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

julianna, The JBs only eat on my hardy hibiscus blooms....not the foliage. The Jbs eat rose blooms only here and prefer either the light colored blooms and the very darkest.
Nematodes would not be as good as Milky Spore. I treated a property in a town once with Milky Spore, but the property was sold nearly three years later so I don't have a good idea how well that worked out. When the neighbors don't treat, the results will likely not be as good.

I have used a small amount of Milky Spore here, but have been stopped by the price and trouble to treat my larger area. I still have gotten quite a few JBs and they last more than 2 weeks!!!!!! Perhaps you Illinois people are not heavily colonized yet!! They weren't so bad at first here 20 years ago either. They have been moving westward from the East coast since the '50s


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Boy if the JB were eating my blooms, I don't know. I'd probably rely more on Milky Spore than the clay, because it definitely leaves a film.

My neighbor has a couple of rosebushes and she's complained about JP since I've known her, but they hadn't really bothered me until this past year. And even then, they weren't anything compared to stories I've heard. They did some major damage to my hibiscus foliage, but I picked them before they stripped it. Then used the clay. They moved to butterfly weed, but seemed to have no impact on it, so I let them stay and hand picked.

Maybe they left after two weeks because of my work? I did make a nice display of the can o' death for them, even though it stunk to high heaven. Perhaps a scout got word to them? I just assumed that was their lifecycle, but maybe I was wrong.

My uncle, who lives about 50 miles from me, had an infestation a couple of years ago in a large tree, and he either hired a pest person or sprayed himself. (Non organic) He talked about the "carpet" of dead JB after the spraying. Said you couldn't see the grass for the bodies.

So I think they're here.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

You joked about the can o' death, but you may be on to something there. Years ago, it was common practice for organic gardens to make "bug juice" from whatever was eating their veggies, and spray with it. The idea was to hand pick a load of the bad bugs, put them in a blender with some water and liquify the critters. Then spray the garden with it.
I havn't done that in years, but if I remember correctly, it worked pretty well. I guess the smell or scent of their decaying relatives was like a warning sign that kept the bad bugs away.
Anyone who does not want to spend money on Milky Spore might want to give it a try.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

I used MS on my yard and garden 30 years ago and haven't had a significant problem with JBs since. The dead beetles themselves spread the disease. There are still a few every year, but NOTHING like what they were before.
The idea behind blending the bugs and spraying it is to spread whatever pathogens the bugs are carrying into the general population. I haven't ever tried doing it, but the idea seems good. Have you ever seen any studies on the technique?


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Back in the 60's & 70's, "bug juice" was popular with Organic Gardening Magazine and used by a lot of their readers.

I once had a nasty JB problem, as did my whole neighborhood. I picked about 1 cup of the critters and blended it up with 2-cups of water, if I remember correctly, until liquified, and then sprayed any plants that had JB on them. Within a few days, I was just about JB free, while all my neighbors still had the infestation. Over the years I have also tried it with other bugs, inc,uding potato beetles, and had the same kind of results.
The theory was not spreading patogens, but repelling them with the scent/smell of the dead bugs of their own species. It acted as a warning that this was a bad place to feed. It didn't kill them, just repelled them.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://thegardenguy.org


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Spraying plants with bug juice, or leaving a can of dead bugs on display, can't hurt, and probably helps.

I had read that the JB sends a scout and then the scout releases a scent telling others it's a good spot. My experience last year goes along with that. I was in the garden, one arrived and I hadn't yet set up my can. I was working on putting my glove on, but before I could, two more came, started sexing on a leaf, and then a bunch more piled on.

I ran and set up the can and started flicking them in and kept the can at hand, but also on display in case there was some kind of scent of death.

The first year I had JB, I got the scout and stepped on him, then left his body on the ground. I definitely think there's something to this, although I've never been able to catch cucumber beetles quickly enough. They're tricky.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Yellow Jackets send out scouts, so I guess JB could too! Interesting!


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

I've squeezed many a JB and CPB and left them on a leaf or on the ground and it didn't work for me.


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

I was just listening to some radio archives by the Dirt Doctor, and he said four o'clocks supposedly draw in JB, but they're poisonous to them.

Worth a try!


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

  • Posted by shebear z8 NCentralTex (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 11, 09 at 14:33

Yep......the only problem is four o'clocks are persistent. They seed heavily and make huge tubers in the ground. Plant them on the other side of the yard/field and kill any that stray.

They are pretty though. Unfortunately the only time they open in the summer for us is after dark. It's too hot for too long. If you get up early in the morning you get to see them for a bit before the heatwave kicks in. I call them 4 o'clock in the mornings! LOL!


 o
RE: Kaolin Clay for flea/cucumber/Japanese beetles, squash borers

Wayne,
I don't think squeezing a few JB and leaving them on a leaf is going to give you the results that the "bug juice" method might. You need to cover an area with the scent to deter the little critters. A couple of dead bugs probally won't cut it.

Ron
The Garden Guy
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Organic Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here