Urban Agriculture Pests- Mexican Bean Beetle

The new wave of “green” living has brought about so many positive changes to the environment. This is especially so in urban areas. The once grey landscapes are slowly turning into beautiful and resourceful places once again. Much of this is from the help of urban agriculture. However, the helpful farming does not come without negatives of its own, one of the most harmful being garden pests.

As one of the main influences of these up and coming green changes, urban agriculture and community gardening had made a large impact already. It has influenced so many positive changes, from teaching others how to garden their own food, to city restaurants starting their own gardens in order to serve the freshest food possible to customers.  More and more people are becoming a part of this important trend. In doing so they are not only helping themselves to fresher, organic foods at a lower cost, but they are also helping the community to become an overall healthier environment.

However, as with all positive impacts, there also come negative issues. There are still the natural farming problems affecting urban agriculture. One of the main problems is pests. There are harmful insects and beetles that infect gardens and could potentially destroy crops. One of the common pests is the Mexican bean beetle.

The Mexican bean beetle is a member of the ladybug family and attacks many different bean plants such as lima beans, soybeans, and other varieties.  Being as it is the Mexican bean beetle, it was originally found in Mexico and the southwestern United States, but because it is such an invasive creature, in recent years it has been found throughout the country, even here in the northeast (Horticulture 2006).

The beetle is often confused with a ladybug later in its lifespan. However, it begins as small yellow larvae on the underside of leaves. The females lay these eggs as often as every two weeks, so a large infestation could happen quickly (Horticulture 2006). Mid-spring is when they begin to emerge for feeding, and continue throughout the summer. They eat leaves of bean plants in a way called windowpaning. This creates a skeleton of the leaf and greatly hinders plant growth. The beetle can even move on to feed from stems and just developing bean pods (Country Living Gardener 2004).

Although the Mexican bean beetle is such a harmful pest, it can still be organically eradicated. In order to first get rid of the beetle, a farmer must crush the eggs that have been laid on the underside of leaves. This prevents any more growth and reproduction. This must be done quickly because the eggs can hatch in anywhere from five to fourteen days. The adult beetles as well as the larvae must be hand picked from the plants themselves. This is more difficult because the beetles must then be put into a container of soapy water to drown them (Horticulture 2006).

There are still other ways to be rid of the bean beetles, or prevent them altogether. Crops that are harvested early in the spring season can be free from beetles because the beetles have not emerged yet (Country Living Gardener 2004). There are also natural insects that prevent the beetles. Certain wasps and stinkbugs are natural enemies and keep the beetles away (Horticulture 2006).  Insecticides may be used, but should be avoided when keeping with an organic garden.

Urban agriculture is such a helpful part of greening cities that such pests should not be an issue to keep people away from gardening. The farms and gardens can be beneficial in so many ways that the good will out weigh the bad. It is better to be helping yourself and the community to live healthier lifestyles, than to worry about a few garden pests.





Horticulture; Jun/Jul2006, Vol. 103 Issue 5, p18-18

Country Living Gardener; Summer2004, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p45-45



-Sarae Gdovin


Bethany Beach Beachgrass Planting

My alarm clock went off at 5:30 sharp on Saturday morning. I look around and it was still incredibly dark. Quickly I gathered the gears that I needed for the trip to Bethany Beach and left my dorm. When I arrived at the parking lot Pat and Max had already been waiting in the van. We took off shortly afterwards to our destination- Bethany Beach, Delaware. The sky lit up as we drove through the dawn on I-95, and we arrived  after three hours of driving to the beach with volunteers already planting beachgrass.

Pat and Max in the van (b-l-u-r-r-y)

The species of grass we were planting is called Ammophila breviligulata (Although I remembered Pat said a different name), commonly know as American Beachgrass. The beachgrass serves two functions, either to stabilize existing dunes or to build new dunes. I think we’re the latter case because Bethany beach is relatively new and there are pumps out on the sea to pump sand to the beach. Beachgrass stabilize the sand and reduce the damage done when storms strike the cost. When planting beachgrass, each plant needs to be 18 inches apart, and planted in a 8 inch deep hole, two roots per hole. Staggering the rows also ensure a larger coverage. We worked in a team of three (usually a team of two) where two dug holes and one planted the grass. In the processes of digging, I realized that making a 8-inch hole is harder than it seems. Some part of the dune is looser and it’s hard to make a hole when the sand pours back just after you make the hole.

This picture shows the newly planted beachgrass and some original beachgrass that has already grow out.

the stick they provided have a 8-inch mark

this is how it looks after the grass is planted in sand:

Hundreds of volunteers came out to the event and the planting proceeded smoothly. We walked down the boardwalk and planted at a second location. There has been a lack of care and protection of the coastline and surrounding area. Many industrial waste from the north had polluted the marshlands and coastal environment when they travel down the river. In recent years, however, there is an increased awareness of the environment due to the failing oyster industry. It’s good to see that people are starting to care about the environment because we both need the mutual beneficial relationship to survive.

Semester Plans

Sarae Gdovin:

For my Stewardship Project I plan to work mostly with Temple Community Gardens, along with a few day clean ups to work towards my 10 hours.

Temple Community Gardens:

Wednesday, March 23 and March 30. April 6, April 13, and April 20.

4pm Homework help at Penrose Playground

5pm Gardening lesson at Penrose Playground

If I am unable to make it to one of these events, I plan to do the Love Your Park! event in Philadelphia on April 16.

Angela Wang:

Mar 19th: Philly Food Forests

Mar 26th: Beach Grass Planting with Pat

Apr 16th: Tree Planting with Lemon Ridge Tree Tenders (city wide tree planting)

Apr 17th: Philly Food Forests

Danielle Mamary:

similar schedule with Danielle with some possible changes.

Meeting with Temple Community Gardens

Tonight Danielle and I went to the weekly meeting of Temple Community Gardens. It was interesting to see what the group had to offer in the coming weeks, as well as into the summer months. I learned that the present spot of TCG is being taken away from them. Temple University is turning it into a parking garage. Now the group is in the process of finding a new location, without much help from Temple. They had some luck in finding places, but they were further away from campus than the original location. With it already being hard to find students interested in the organization, they were worried what moving the location farther away from campus would do. They are working hard to keep their missions of teaching and including students in the community garden initiatives.

In the coming months they plan to have a bake sale, in which they push a wheelbarrow around campus to sell the goods. They are also planning a weekend to plant with alumni and a fraternity on campus. Also, for the end of the year they are holding a banquet for TCG and selling their own compiled cookbooks to raise money for the organization.

I am excited to be working in such an involved and organized group for this stewardship project, as well as seeing what else they will be doing for the semester.

-Sarae Gdovin

Volunteering at Philly Food Farm

When I looked out my dorm room window yesterday I saw little red buds on the trees. I know spring is here and the weather is getter better and better. On this sunny Saturday, I biked all the way down to South Philly to check out this new garden on 5th and Mercy St. It was a rather long bike ride but I enjoy biking through the city on a good day.

I think the garden is really just getting started. It is located in the midst of apartments and townhouses, a rather surprising spot around the neighborhood. It is very much like the vacant lot we visited in class. All of the lots are build upon old buildings that are torn down so there are bricks just few inches beneath the soil. Robyn is the person in charge of the Philly Food Farm. Her vision is to build the garden with existing materials and soil and make efficient use of rain water and compost.

I helped clean the path between plots and put the first layer on one of the plots. There’s also a white cup for worms; I put a lot of earthworms I found when cleaning the path in it. It’s almost like a little culture of warms. As weird as it may sound but I love playing with tiny earthworms!

Here’s a glimpse of how the garden looks like so far:

here they are trying to build a compost area:

across the street they’ve set up what I think is becoming a rain garden:

I stayed for almost four hours and got some good exercise out of it (including the bike ride!). Right now the farm/garden is still in its early stage. Robyn told me that there is a lot she wants to do with it. I am sure I will come back and help out. It feels great to be a part of it.

Reflection on “Urban Ecological Citizenship”

1 a) My favorite parks are the parks Fairmount Park system and along the Schuylkill. Outside of the city, I really like going to Longwood Gardens near Kennett Square. Besides those places, my absolute favorite place to connect with nature is my backyard. My house is located in a suburban/wooded area and has lots of wildlife. Also in my backyard are my garden and my mother’s flower garden. I enjoy going to these places because they offer an escape from the fast paced world.

I love to go to a beach to see the beauty of nature. I like beach resorts that are crowed with tourists and sometimes more desolate beaches that line the east coast. I love hearing the sound of the waves as well as the peaceful nature of the entire environment of land and sea together.

I like to go to Washington Square Park in the city. I can bike there on a good day and relax in a little green space in the city. I like to watch people in the park and have conversations with my friends. It’s a little place where I find some serenity in the city.

1 b) Philadelphia area: Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

Backyard is maintained by my mother and me!

Ricketts Glen State Park is maintained by the PA State Parks system and Longwood is maintained privately and has an admissions fee.

Many of these beaches are cared for by a Beach Patrol service. They help to keep the beach in good condition for those who would like to use it.

2) My motivation to care for nature comes from a love of nature as a young child. I think the Philadelphia parks system is well maintained but might get more use if they had more activities and things for children. If people felt more connected to their surrounding space, they may be more inclined to keep it clean/be respectful. No one wants to see his or her hard work destroyed. The parks are retreats for every citizen to get away from the concrete jungle. When I do go to a park I would like to see it clean and feel as if I am close to nature. I would not want to see litter or anything else to defame the area.  If everyone can utilize the place, everyone should have the responsibility to maintain it.

3) On this question our answers are split in half. But first of all, we establish that Andrew Light’s ideal ecological citizenship consist of an “ethical citizenship where citizenship is a virtue met by active participation at some level of public affairs.” We live in an urban setting where every citizen lives in close proximity. Everything we do affect one another.

Two of us think every citizen has responsibility to maintain the environment that we share. We all deserve to have access to the natural world even in an urban environment. If everyone can utilize the place, everyone should have the responsibility to maintain it.  One of us thinks that rights and responsibility should not be given more to the public because most of the citizens do not care about the environment and are apathetic towards preserving it. If rights and responsibility is given more to the public, our space will get dirtier instead of cleaner.

4) We agree with Light’s suggestions for hands on ecological citizenship.

Community service makes people feel like they are part of something greater than themselves. Also, when we contribute to a community project or something we are proud of, we will want to preserve and protect it. In order for people to care about the environment, they need to experience first hand what it takes to keep a natural environment running. Just like Light said, “If someone is in a normative and participatory relationship with the land around then he or she is less likely to allow it to be harmed further.”

5) We believe that waterways and parks bind community together because:

Parks and waterways can be accessed by all with no (or little) fees, which always serve as an incentive for participation.

Parks engage young children and give them a safe place to play, if maintained and kept clean.

Community ecological restoration project, like the one Light mentioned (Bronx River Alliance) helps create a common interest among citizens thus strengthen the bonding effect.