Scientists at the Agriculture Research Service's Beltsville, MD, center are experimenting with a weed that may impede the movement of Colorado potato beetles.
Entomologist Kevin Thorpe and collaborators have found that an organic mulch made from a cover crop of hairy vetch can reduce CPB damage.
Utilizing a method developed by plant physiologists Aref Abdul-Baki and John Teasdale, they planted in the fall and mowed in the spring before transplanting.
The vetch impeded the movement of beetles in tomatoes, thereby lessening their damage. The vetch, a legume, also added nitrogen to the soil. The same control is expected in experiments with potatoes and eggplant.
According to weed scientists, vetch is located in areas of the west and is not hard to control with commonly used herbicides.