Despite my efforts at feeding my chickens all the Japanese
beetle grubs I could find, the invasive pests still cover my plants. They prefer roses, asparagus fronds, cannas,
and beans in my garden. Oh, and they
like only one of my apple tree’s leaves.
I don’t know why they like it over the others, but the chickens know
this too and lurk underneath it waiting for some treats to fall.
A recent introduction to our area, the kudzu beetle, is
about 1/8 inch long and colored army green.
They cover my bean plants, concentrating themselves along the stems and,
I heard on the PBS show “Making It Grow,” only eat legumes. They don’t visibly damage the plants, but
suck juices out of the stem of the plants, weakening them. According to “Making It Grow,” and my own
observation, they don’t noticeably decrease yield in the home garden. If a plant is young or otherwise weak, the
bugs might kill it.
Kudzu bugs are a relative of stinkbugs, and they do smell bad
when squashed. According to an article
in “The State” newspaper on 4/4/2012, http://www.thestate.com/2012/04/14/2234085/kudzu-bugs-blanket-sc.html
the bugs first appeared in the US in Atlanta in 2009, and they have spread
across the southeast. Gardeners can
handpick them or put diatomaceous earth on them, which should kill them as it
does other crawling insects.
A few weeks ago, I got guineas. They are known for their voracious
insect-eating appetites. I took it as a
sign from God that I should get guineas, if He cares about such things, that on
the way to get my guinea keets I came upon a flock of them in the road. I have never seen them around here before.
The keets are tiny; six of them could fit in an infant’s
shoebox. They are loud, and they are
wild. I am used to baby chickens who
wander around the yard and approach humans.
When we set a keet down in the yard, (fortunately we only took out one
at the time) it ran amazingly fast on its tiny legs under the bushes, and my
husband and I spent about ten minutes shooing it out until it ran back toward
the house and I could corner and put it back into the box.
|My daughters examine the guineas, as all six of them hide behind the mason jar feeder|
Because even professionals cannot sex guinea keets, I assume
I have both males and females. The males
are not usually aggressive, unlike roosters, and so I hope my guineas will be
able to hatch more guineas, assuming they bother to stay around my house when I
do let them free-range.
Unlike my chickens, who would destroy my garden by
scratching up and eating plants, guineas
do not usually eat plants, and they do not scratch, so they can, I hope, be
trusted in the garden for pest control. I envision them walking down the rows
of beans, deftly picking off kudzu bugs and Japanese beetles, and then
wandering over to the squash to eat a few squash bugs. After that, I expect them to wander the yard
and eat the ticks that plague us. We’ll
see. They may be eating the bugs in your
The rest of the time, they’ll give my dogs competition as
watchdogs. I understand that they let
you know if someone or something enters the yard that does not belong. They’ll have to get a little more
appreciative of dangers, though, because the other night my husband held my two
sleeping dachshunds, Sterling and Mr. Schultz, on his lap while a guinea keet
snuggled between the back of his head and the chair. The keet decided to walk down his arm, and
then jumped on Sterling’s head on the way off the chair. Sterling awoke with a start, but fortunately
for the keet, his sight and reflexes are not as swift as they once were (he’ll
be 15 in August), and I was able to grab the keet without incident. Sterling looked around in surprise and went
back to sleep, surely thinking the keet must have been part of a dream.