What organic methods do you have for dealing with insects on my ground cherries?


For two years, I planted ground Cherries (Goldie Variety) next to my tomato plants. I didn’t have much trouble with pests except for tortoise beetles, but they didn’t hurt the plants too much. Last year, I planted a different variety (Aunt Molly) in pots and they were completely destroyed by these disgusting grubs that would cover themselves in their own poop and poop/vomit if you touched them. I am not sure what the adult beetles looked like. This year I switched back to the Goldie Variety, and already there are a bunch of beetles hanging out on the plants. They look like Striped Cucumber Beetles but have red heads instead of black. I really don’t want to lose another year’s crop. Do you have any advice? I was thinking about covering them with insect netting, but thought that might mess up pollination. I only want to use organic methods.


Jonathan Foster, Special Project Assistant 

I’m sorry to hear about the trouble with your ground cherries.

What you are describing sounds like the threelined potato beetle, as described in this UMinn Extension fact sheet (right up to their fecal defense mechanism!). While they don’t often need control on tomatoes and potatoes (where they are generally more of a nuisance), they can be quite a headache on tomatillos and ground cherries. You can find excellent information on both chemical and non-chemical control methods in the above link, as well as in this UNH Extension resource page.