The contrary garden: pea moth

Eew!

Eew!

Several of my gardening catalogs have these spiffy little contraptions for sale that will shell peas for you with the turn of a crank. Every year I look longingly at them and lament that despite my love of garden peas I cannot have a sheller. Thanks to the recurring pest known as the pea moth I have to hand-shell my peas because there’s no way to tell from the outside which pod will have a nasty little maggot inside, boring his way through my lovely little green pearls and leaving his mealy poo all over the place.

Every year I announce that I will be covering my pea crop to prevent the pea moths from laying their eggs in my beloved peas, and every year I fail. Row covers are your best protection against the moth unless you want to skip growing peas for a few years (I’d rather not). This year their incidence is significantly less in my garden (30% of pods were affected last year vs only 5% this year) because the peas were planted very early but the soil didn’t warm up enough for the moths to hatch until much later than usual due to our very slow spring.

It’s a bummer that I have to shell every pea by hand (especially given the enormous amount I have planted) but the maggots generally only damage one or two peas in each pod and the rest are fine.

— Amanda

Source: Antonelli, Arthur L., Extension Entomologist WSU Puyallup. “Pea Moth.” (WSU PLS-59) Washington State University Cooperative Extension.

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