Insect of the Week

Hey insect fans! This week we’ll be talking about the Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata), a pest of cucurbit crops that made its first appearance in the gardens this past week. (pictured below – our apologies for the small picture, this guy was FAST)








The Spotted Cucumber Beetle is a coleopteran pest of cucurbit crops, feeding on plants in this group during both the larval and adult stages of its life cycle. As a larvae, this insect feeds on roots and shoots of growing cucurbits. As an adult, it feeds on leaves, flowers, and fruit.

The primary damage caused by this insect is not its consumption of plant material, however. Cucumber beetles carry bacteria that cause vascular wilt, and transfer them to cucurbit crops through feeding damage and fecal contamination. Vascular wilt, once established in the plant, cannot be cured and quickly causes the infected plant to wilt and die. This bacterial disease plugs up vascular tissue inside plants, blocking the flow of water and nutrients. This  blockage is what causes the initial “wilty” appearance, and is ultimately the cause of death in the plant.

Because of the severity of the problem caused by vascular wilt, it is important to scout frequently for Spotted Cucumber Beetle if you are growing cucurbit crops. If you see wilted sections of vine, it is also wise to make sure that vascular wilt is to blame for the problem. To test for vascular wilt, slice the stem of the affected plant and hold the two ends together for a few seconds. After holding the two halves together, pull them slowly apart and look for a milky, viscous sap stretching between the two ends. If this  milky sap is present, the plant has vascular wilt.

Many chemical and cultural controls are available for the control of Spotted Cucumber Beetle, but they are very diverse and highly dependent on the situation. For this reason, we’re including the link to the UW Extension page on the cucumber beetle so that you can find more detailed information if needed. Here’s the hyperlink:,d.aWM

Thanks much for reading! Tune in again next week!

-Dave Schreiner, WMARS Intern

Insects of the Week

Insects of the Week is back! The short work week of the 4th last week pushed us a bit behind, but we’re back up and running, and we’ve got a great spread of pests  to show off this week.

Because of the very large influx of insects over the past week or two, we’re going to show off pictures of our current array of pests and the damage they cause, so the post is going to be a bit image heavy. We’ll go back and talk about some in more detail as the summer goes on and the number of new arrivals decreases. Because of the large amount of information, we’re also attaching hyperlinks to University Extension sites on these pests for more information.

Today we’re going to show off images of Squash Vine Borer, Cabbage Looper, Squash Bug, and Grape Phylloxera. Each of these pests presents its own range of difficulties and  control strategies. As you read on, keep in mind that in order to spot these insects in your homes and gardens, it is important to regularly scout your plants. Many pests will only be discovered with dedicated and regular searching.

Up first: Squash Vine Borer (Melittia cucurbitae), shown below. Look for these flashy pests on the stems of your cucurbit crops, as this is where they lay eggs.









Eggs pictured below (the two circular orange spots on the leaf stalk). We have had to go through our trial beds and scrape as many of these off as possible.


Here’s the UW Extension link to Squash Vine Borer:

Below is an image of a Cabbage Looper larvae (Trichoplusia ni). Look for these larvae on the undersides of foliage of your cole-crops. You will typically see holes in your foliage, and often greenish pellets of frass (insect excrement).











And the damage caused to cole-crops.


Here’s the hyperlink to the extension page on Cabbage Looper:

Squash Bug (Anasa tristis), shown below. Squash Bugs often assemble in very large numbers on cucurbit crops, and can cause serious blight issues when present.








Here’s the hyperlink to the University’s extension page on Squash Bug:

This is a grape leaf with Grape Pylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae), galls shown below.


Here’s the hyperlink to  the University’s extension page on Grape Phylloxera:

Again, we’ll go back and talk about many of these in more detail later. Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for all of these on your plants! And please enjoy the extension material.

-Dave Schreiner, WMARS Intern

Jammin’ With Service Berries…

Although various species of this woody perennial are technically classified as under the genus Amelanchier, they seem to have as many common names as they have berries! Ok… so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. However, if you find yourself confused when a person asks you to taste test between Juneberry, Saskatoon, and  Serviceberry Jam, don’t be- they might all taste the same because they are, in fact, the same berry!

Serviceberries are commonly found in our area scattered around neighborhoods as ornamental plants, or growing as low-slung shrubs in the open woods. They are often mistaken for a variety of crabapple due to the apparent similarity in the appearance of the fruit and foliage. With a little practice however, it is easy to tell these delicious fruits apart from the sour and typically unusable ornamental crabapple.


Don’t let the multiple names or initial ID confusion intimidate you. Serviceberries are well worth your effort, as they can be cooked in a number of wonderful ways including jam, pie, sauces, and more. The serviceberries out at WMARS were in full season this past week, and we tried out our jam making capabilities with delicious results. Here’s an intern taste-test picture:












Serviceberries are extremely common, easy to cook with, and a lot of fun to eat. Get outside in your neighborhood or woodlot this weekend and try to find some of your own! Happy picking!












– Madeline Wimmer and Dave Schreiner, WMARS Interns

2012 – Field Conditions and Vegetable Review

Ruby King-Sweet Bell Pepper

The 2013 season will soon be upon us and looking back on last years field trials I am hoping for moisture. We have taken some time to review last years field conditions and the outcome of the Vegetable Trials. Please visit the following link which includes a review of the 2012 season and an overview of top performing veggies.

2012 Site Conditions and Vegetable Review

Seedless Table Grape Report


Trollhaugen Seedless Table Grape

The seedless table grape trial at the station, in the garden, began in 2007.  Fifteen varieties were planted in early June.  We were all optimistic and had great hopes that at least four or five of the varieties would over-winter and produce a great crop of seedless table grapes.  The hardiness zones for the grape varieties ranged from Zone 6 to Zone 4.   Only one selection was rated at Zone 4.  Most fell in the range of 5a or 5b.


Sommerset Seedless Table Grapes

Now five years later, we know that 12 of those original 15 varieties have over-wintered, and produced abundant fruit that ripens in our climate, and each has a unique and unusual taste.

Our annual seedless table grape report for 2012 has a detailed account of the varieties that have over-wintered, and a description of each variety.   Please check the link below for the annual report.


Vanessa Seedless Table Grapes

Vanessa Seedless Table Grapes

Agriculture 101-Wisconsin Army National Guard

Soldiers receive instruction on growing root crops from garden manager Brian Emerson

On July 26 soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard received training at the University Display Gardens. The instruction focused on growing techniques for grapes, apples, and vegetable crops. The training was part of a week long series ‘Agriculture 101’ that was coordinated by the UW Babcock institute. The soldiers were given an overview of many agricultural topics to help prepare them for their service dealing with civilian farmers abroad.

2011 Annual Flower Evaluations

Whisper Star Rose - PetuniaThis summer we trial hundreds of annual flowers.  Those annuals that we evaluated are listed on the two sheets you will find below.   The sheet labeled Commercial Flower Growers is the rating for over 50 different petunias that have been produced through vegetative propagation rather than seed.

We trialed these petunias for the commercial growers in Wisconsin so that they could could determine the best petunias to sell for the 2012 growing season.  Many of the petunias preformed very well and given our highest rating….5.



We also trialed seed propagated annual flowers for many different companies.  The results are listed as Annual Flower Evaluations.  Enjoy reading the evaluations and we hope the evaluations help you choose next years summer annuals.


CFGW Evaluations

1. 2011 CFGW WMARS Evaluations

General Flower Trial Evaluations

  1. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Ball FloraPlant
  2. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Ball Seed
  3. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Grimes
  4. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Burpee
  5. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Harris Seeds
  6. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Johnny’s
  7. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Kieft
  8. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP PanAmerican Seeds
  9. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Proven Winners
  10. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Seedway
  11. Annual Flwr Eval 2011WP Syngenta