Rid Your Garden of Pests Naturally
Rid Your Garden of Pests Naturally
by Lisa Carter
A mild winter and plenty of rain has bolstered the insect population this year. Most people don’t realize that spraying insecticides actually kills off much needed garden helpers. I have some beneficial insects and animals that can help you eradicate all of your garden pests safely and naturally. In order to know what beneficial insects are, you must first know what insects are pests.
Aphids – Small light green bugs also known as “Plant Lice”. Aphids terrorize farmers and home growers by camping out on the back side of leaves and sucking the sap out of them. This action causes plants to be lacking in amino acids and therefore turn yellow.
Thrips – Slender and cigar shaped. Thrips cause yellowing and deformities. They are also carriers of plant viruses that effect tomatoes and impatiens. Thrips are generally attracted to bright colors and can be seen inside of flowers.
Grub – Pale yellow or white with a black head. Grubs eat the roots of lawn and garden plants causing the appearance of wilting and then the eventual death of the lawn or plants. Later the Grub hatches into a Japanese beetle and devours the leaves of healthy plants.
Whitefly – As the name suggests, Whitefly is a small white fly that lives on the underside of leaves. Whiteflies notoriously carry diseases that affect tomatoes, beans, cassava, cotton, cucurbits, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Whiteflies feed by introducing toxic saliva into a plants leaves and this impedes a plants ability to grow.
Caterpillars – Voracious eaters, Caterpillars are the larvae of Butterflies and Moths. There are so many varieties but most in this area are long bodied with many feet and can be smooth or hairy. Serious damage can be done by these critters to trees, vegetable crops, and fruit.
Weevil – A dark, oval-shaped insect with a snout and antennae. If you have rhododendron or azaleas look for c-shaped notches in leaves and stunted growth. Look for white larvae on stems and leaves. Weevils cannot fly and adults are dime sized.
Slug/Snail – Both gastropod mollusks, one with shell, one without. You can tell if you have them by the slime they leave behind. The Slug and Snail each have long shiny bodies and antennae. Only some varieties eat living plants but do significant damage.
Leaf Hoppers – Small, colorful, large eyed, and resembling a grasshopper. These pests suck the sap from trees, shrubs and grass. The nymph variety has no wings and runs on the undersides of leaves. You will notice stunted growth and much lower yield of fruits and vegetables.
Mites – There are a wide array of Mites. Usually minute, mites can be red, yellow or white and generally congregate together on stems or leaves. You will see hardening of leaves, discoloration, and sometimes webbing.
Beneficial Insects and Animals
Dragonflies – They lay eggs in water. As larvae they prey on other small creatures (i.e. Mosquito
larvae). As adults, they eat other flying insects. Plant your garden near a pond or install a small
pond to attract dragonflies.
Hoverflies – Hoverflies look like black bees. They hover over plants hence the name. Some
varieties will eat decaying plant and animal matter in the soil or in ponds and streams. Others larvae will feed on Thrips and Aphids. Hoverflies love alyssum, chamomile, and yarrow. All three are a great, fragrant addition to any garden.
Ground Beetles -1.5” dark shiny shelled beetle. They are one of the most beneficial predatory insects. These beetles eat a large assortment of bugs including other Beetles, Grubs, Caterpillars, Fly Maggots, Weevils, Aphids, Slugs, and Snails. Make sure to plant some perennials like ornamental grasses in your garden. The perennials will attract beetles in the fall for overwintering and will become a permanent part of your garden.
Lady Beetles, aka Lady Bugs – Red or orange with black spots or black with four red spots. These
beetles are probably the best known of the beneficial insects. They eat scale, aphids, and mites. Most of the local nurseries and garden centers now have these garden friends for sale. Parsley, dill, and fennel will attract more lady beetles.
Lace Wings – Often mistaken with the previously mentioned dragonfly, the Lace Wing bug is light
green, long bodied, and big eyed with lacey wings. As larvae they are the most ravenous eater of Aphids. They also eat Whitefly, Leaf Hoppers, and Mites. Planting alyssum, coreopsis, marigolds, and cosmos will entice Lace Wings.
Spiders – Eight legs and many of us are scared of them. Spiders love to eat all of the small invertebrates in your garden. If the webs are in the way of your entry, knock it down but resist the urge to step on them.
Spiders like to be in your garden under mulch or in between perennials and shrubs.
Frogs – No description needed. They have exceptional bug catching skills and love Snails and Slugs. If you have a pond near your garden make sure there are plenty of aquatic plants in it. The Frog likes to have cover. Note to self, the Frog does not discriminate between good and bad bugs. Don’t go out and buy Lady Bugs if you know you have Frogs.
Birds – Chickadees, Titmice, and Nuthatches all eat insects in the garden. Entice them with a bird bath preferably with running water because they are attracted to the sound and you will not invite mosquitos. Also, Chickadees and Titmice love black oil sunflower seeds so add a feeder to your garden motif.
A great way to ensure you are not inviting pests into your garden is to buy local. Form a relationship with your local nursery and market. Get to know where your plants come from and who’s growing them. For myself, I want organically grown plants only and the only way to ensure I don’t contaminate my soil is to ask questions. Ask for native plants. Native plants are more bug resistant and will attract more beneficial bugs and wildlife.
Below is a list of the plants that will boost the amount of these beneficial creatures in your garden:
Native plants ( obtain a list from local nursery or contact me )
Just a side note: If you see birds, groundhogs, and other insect eating rodents in your yard you most
likely have Grubs. They are easy to get rid of with our beneficial insects or natural pesticides. Pay attention to circular patches in the lawn.
This article is presented by www.honestlandscapingandinteriors.com, a greener way to do landscaping and interior remodeling. Please contact Lisa with any landscaping questions or for a free estimate at (727) 637-8014 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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