Tips on Tackling Common Garden Pests
No gardener wants to discover pets in their garden. These critters seem to think that the flowers, fruits, vegetables, and plants were laid out just for them to munch on. But bugs and other pests are unwanted visitors! Here’s how gardeners can get rid of these freeloaders.
These tiny, soft-bodied pests literally suck the life out of a plant. They’re also very easy to overlook because of their small size. Some species are almost exactly the color of the plant they’re attacking. A gardener might not notice them until it’s late in the day.
The good news is that getting rid of aphids is fairly easy. They can be rubbed off with the fingers, blasted with a concentrated jet of water or killed by a spritz of insecticidal soap. A couple of things to note about insecticidal soap is that it shouldn’t be used on every plant (including peas, whose leaves it can burn). It also needs to stay wet and should be applied early in the morning or in the evening.
One final way to get rid of aphids is to sic ladybugs on them. Both grown ladybugs and their larvae love eating aphids.
The frustrating thing about grubs is that they can’t be seen since they do their damage while buried in the ground. Grubs are the larval form of a host of other insects, including beetles, moths, and flies. Telltale signs that there are grubs in your garden include dying plants and plants that have fallen over or whose stems have been noticeably chewed.
There are different types of grubs and different ways to get rid of them. You can till the soil in the early spring and let the birds have at them. You can add wood ashes or diatomaceous earth to the soil, then till it in the late fall or early spring to disturb the pupae. Or you can put collar barriers on all the transplants set out in the garden.
Another way to get rid of grubs is to add beneficial nematodes. If some of the grubs escape the treatment and grow into things like Japanese beetles, they can be plucked off the plant by hand.
Like aphids, these bugs are tiny and suck plant sap. Their eggs are minuscule, yellow and can be found where the stem joins the leaves. You can tell you have mealybugs if you see specks of that look like cotton on the underside of the leaf. Like aphids, mealybugs secrete a sweet liquid that attracts ants and encourages black mold. With mealy bugs, plants become stunted. They wilt and their fruit drops prematurely.
Like aphids, mealybugs can be discouraged by jets of water on the underside of the leaves. They can also be killed by a cotton swab dipped in alcohol and insecticidal soap. This works better in the spring when the bugs are dormant. Green lacewings and PFR, a type of microorganism, attack mealy bugs.
When you’re ready to call in the pros, start with a local Google search like “pest control in Kansas City”. Look for pest control providers with good reviews, then call around to get some quotes. You want to work with someone who’s knowledgeable, well-reviewed, and uses sustainable, eco-friendly products.