Extermigate is a word I just made up.
I was looking for one of those lovely, lengthy German words that describes something so well, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I was hoping for a word to describe the act of interrupting an insect’s lifecycle by wiping the eggs off before they hatch. No such word. So, I took extergimus, the Latin word for “wipe off”, and gave it a little twist. From now on, if anyone asks, extermigate refers to the act of wiping insect eggs off of a host plant. Ta da!
In many cases, it is the larval form of an insect that causes the most damage. Voracious eaters, they can sever seedlings, turn leaves into lace, and hollow out cabbages before they have a chance to form. Imported cabbageworm butterflies are a perfect example.
Tiny pale eggs are laid by the dozens on the underside of young leaves. In no time at all, these eggs hatch into tiny larvae that don’t stay little for long. All day, they chew holes in leaves, growing larger by the minute. Since they tend to turn the color of the leaves they are feeding on, they are difficult to see until the damage becomes extensive. Instead of losing crops to pests like these, you can extermigate the eggs and be done with it.
How to extermigate
Much like tree rubbing, in which you use a gloved hand to rub off unwanted new shoots before they get large enough to require pruners, exterminating insect eggs is a lot faster and easier than hunting down fat green larvae, removing shredded leaves, and hosing all that frass (bug poop) out of your decimated plants
Every few days, simply take a walking tour of your susceptible plants. In the case of the imported cabbageworm butterfly, that would mean all of your cruciferous vegetables: broccolis, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, chard, and kale. Inspect the underside of leaves for signs of eggs. If you see any, simply wipe them off. They will fall to the ground where, when they hatch, they will have no food and die.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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