If you have a green thumb and love to garden, you know how detrimental infesting pests and insects can be to the plants, vegetables and fruits that you work so hard to grow. Keep reading to learn more about which pests are a real threat to your plants and how to implement effective garden pest control solutions.
What types of pests will affect my garden?
There are a variety of insects and pests that will make a meal out of the plants and vegetables in your home garden. Read below to learn more about some of the most destructive types of garden pests that will likely require garden pest control.
Aphids are very small insects that are usually green in color with a pear-shaped body, long antennae and two tubes that extend backwards from their abdomen. These tiny critters will usually take up shop on most any variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and shade trees. Once aphids have established themselves on your plants, they will then begin to suck the plant sap which will cause leaves and foliage to distort and drop. As they suck the sap from your plants, aphids will excrete a substance called honeydew which leaves an unsightly brown residue on plant leaves. If you notice this sticky brown matter on the plants in your garden, you are probably dealing with the presence of aphids and will need to intervene with garden pest control.
Most people know how to identify a caterpillar, but not everyone knows that these larvae can be destructive to your garden plants. Caterpillars may be found on many different types of vegetables and fruits in your garden, as well as on ornamental plants and shade trees. You can tell whether or not you are facing an infestation of caterpillars in your garden by the state of the leaves of your plants. Caterpillars prefer to snack on leaves, filling them with holes or giving them a ragged appearance. This destructive nature of the caterpillar means that you should implement garden pest control practices to keep your plants healthy and free of holes.
Similar to caterpillars, cutworms can be identified by their thick, one inch long bodies with black segments. These moth larvae are mostly active during the night and are most commonly found on your vegetable and flower seedlings. Cutworms are most active at night, so if you think you might be facing an infestation of cutworms in your garden, try patrolling your plants at dusk and in the evening hours as cutworms begin to eat. Additionally, it is most likely that you will find cutworms munching away at your plants on cloudy days. During May and June, cutworms can completely devour your plants by chewing through the stems at ground level. An infestation of cutworms will require garden pest control to ensure the health of your newly growing plans.
4. Colorado Potato Beetle
The colorado potato beetle is unique in appearance with a yellow-orange color, ten black stripes on their wing covers and a length of approximately one third of an inch. Colorado potato beetles will hibernate in garden debris or soil during the winter months and emerge in the spring months to munch on the leaves of potatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplants and petunias. As they feed on plant leaves, they can completely defoliate them which may reduce yields or cause young plants to die altogether. Because this defoliation can also cause malformed or stunted plants, it is best to take action through garden pest control to help preserve the vegetables and plants in your garden.
5. Flea Beetle
Flea beetles earned their name from their tendency to jump like fleas when they are disturbed. They can also be identified by their small size and dark color. You will most likely find the flea beetle feeding on the plants in your garden on warm, sunny days. Their meals of choice are usually beans, cabbage, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, lettuce and most any seedling. As they dine on your garden vegetables, flea beetles can swiftly defoliate and even kill entire plants. These beetles will leave behind small, round holes in leaves, which is most harmful to young plants. To ensure that you are able to harvest the vegetables you worked so hard to grow in your garden, it is a good idea to implement garden pest control to rid your plot of these harmful little critters.
6. Tarnished Plant Bug
Tarnished plant bugs are quick moving insects with flattened bodies, blotchy green or brown coloring and are about one fourth of an inch in length. These bugs will also require you to use effective garden pest control. Tarnished plant bugs overwinter under garden debris, bark or among clover or alfalfa leaves and will then emerge in the spring months, actively attacking the buds of premature fruits, flowers and vegetables. After the tarnished plant bug dines on the fruit buds in your garden, your plants can be left with scars or may even die as a result. These bugs will suck the juice from your plants causing distortion, wilting or stunting in leaves and fruits, The signs of tarnished plant bug activity on apples will appear as a round scab and raspberries will become misshapen and uneven.
Scales are a garden insect that have the potential to be be highly destructive to your plants. These bugs are very small in size, flat and oval shaped with a protective brown or tan shell. Scales flourish in warm, dry environments and will usually choose to attack around leaf joints and the undersides of plant leaves. There are three types of scales: armored scale, soft scale and mealybug. Both soft and armored scales are the most destructive to your garden and are difficult to control, while mealy bugs are less harmful and easier to manage. Soft scales will discharge substantial amounts of honeydew which can lead to the growth of sooty mold. Sooty mold is a black fungus that can impede photosynthesis, affecting your growing plants. These insects are found on fruits, trees, ornamental shrubs and indoor plants. They weaken your plants by sucking out the sap, resulting in yellow leaves that will drop or even the death of the plant. It is best to apply effective garden pest control to rid your garden of scales before they overwhelm your plants.
How can I prevent garden pests?
1. Use Physical Barriers
One of the most useful and perhaps most obvious ways to practice garden pest control is to use physical barriers between the plants and infesting bugs. One option is to cover up vulnerable plants with a floating row cover. Floating row covers are made of flexible, lightweight and transparent or semi-transparent materials that rest either on top of your plants or above your plants through metal hoops. These covers will allow plants to receive the water and sunlight they need while keeping harmful bugs away. When applying your row cover, make sure to pin the sides of the cover to the ground so that pests do not sneak underneath. It is also important to remember to remove the cover when your plants begin to flower so that pollinators, such as bees, can access your plants.
2. Practice Interplanting
Keeping a number of diverse plants and vegetables in your garden can also help to cut down on infiltrating pests. Many insects will find a singular host plant on which they will feed or lay their eggs. In order to find their best suited host plant, these insects may need to land on the same plant numerous times. By planting different types of vegetable crops, along with herbs, you can confuse pests as they attempt to find their host plant. As they search for their host plant, insects may end up landing on a different plant each time, making it more difficult for the insect to feed. To practice interplanting effectively, do not plant a specific type of crop in a block or row. Instead, mix up the types of plants you use and their location in your garden.
3. Grow Healthy Plants.
This technique may seem obvious, but it is worth mentioning, as it is a very important step you can take to prevent a bug infestation in your garden. Interestingly, like humans, plants have an immune system and when your plants are healthy, they will become naturally more unattractive to garden pests. Additionally, healthy and stress-free plants can defend against pests through their own chemical defense mechanisms, which is not only beneficial to the plant, but also to your entire garden. You can help to keep your garden plants healthy by feeding the soil a wholesome diet of organic materials and ensuring that each plant is planted in a condition that will give them the best chance to prosper.
Plants To Use For Garden Pest Control
In addition to the tips outlined above, there are further ways that you can prevent pests from munching on the plants in your home garden and also from buzzing around your home. One of these ways is to plant particular herbs and flowers that naturally help to ward off these pervading pests.
Basil is known to be an effective solution in garden pest control as it for prevents mosquitos and flies from hanging out near your home. This herb is very readily available to consumers and can be purchased in a container or bought as seeds to then be planted in your garden. However, basil requires a great deal of sun and water to survive, so be calculated in where you choose to plant it so that it may thrive and remain effective as a bug repellent.
Known as a natural pesticide, petunias are extremely effective in deterring a large variety of bugs from infesting your garden, including aphids. This makes them a great candidate for use when implementing garden pest control. Petunias are easy to maintain and can be purchased in many different colors, adding vibrancy to your home garden. Plant these flowers in a sunny location close to your herbs and vegetables for optimal pest repelling results.
4. Rosemary and Other Herbs
Rosemary and other herbs including fennel, parsley, oregano, thyme and bay leaves can all be used as insect repellents in your garden. These herbs repel many different types of pests and particularly mosquitos. Simply grow rosemary in a container in your garden to help defend your plants and vegetables from harmful bug infestations. Not only are these herbs a great defender when used in garden pest control, but they can also add a relaxing aroma to your garden.
Chrysanthemums can not only be used as ornamentals in your garden, but they are also effective in repelling garden pests including ticks, spider mites, roaches, lice and aphids. This flowering plant contains an ingredient called pyrethrum which is also often used in insect sprays and pet shampoos. Plant your chrysanthemums in a dry, sunny location.
Natural Sprays For Garden Pest Control
There are also some great DIY sprays that can be highly beneficial to your garden pest control objectives. When used on your garden, these sprays will help to keep pests and insects at bay. Read below for two powerful and natural sprays that you can make right at home which will be useful as you implement garden pest control.
1. Neem Oil Insecticide
Neem oil comes from the seed of the Neem tree and is a highly effective natural insecticide that should be a staple in any garden pest control plan. This oil is not toxic to your pets and is biodegradable, making it a great solution for those who are environmentally conscious. To make a Neem oil insecticide, mix two two teaspoons of Neem oil and one teaspoon of mild liquid soap with one quart of water. Then, spray you pest affected plants and vegetables. Neem oil can also be used as a preventative treatment by spraying any foliage you are growing that is likely to become infested by garden pests.
2. Garlic Insecticide Spray
Unlike many humans who enjoy the strong scent and taste of garlic, most pests dislike its biting aroma and will stay far away from any plant on which they can smell it. Making a natural garlic insect repellent at home is easy, as it only requires two garlic bulbs, a food processor and water. Simply puree the two garlic bulbs in a blender with a small amount of water and let the mixture sit overnight. Then, strain the mixture into a quart jar and add one half cup of vegetable oil, one teaspoon of mild liquid soap and more water until the jar is full. You can then use one cup of mixture with one quart of water as a spray on any vulnerable or infested plants. This solution is a great staple in your garden pest control arsenal.
With these tips, you can now use your green thumb to create a beautiful and fruitful garden without the presence of bugs and pests. Happy gardening!