10 Common Garden Pests And How To Deal With Them
A garden requires a lot of work to keep it beautiful or/and to harvest plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables. Letting it being destroyed by the pests is therefore something a gardener simply cannot afford. Providing garden plants optimal conditions for growth and taking care of pest prevention measures such as attracting beneficial insects and wildlife species to the garden, companion planting, frequent inspection of the plants, etc. is the key to pest management as they are a lot easier kept out as driven out of the garden. However, they are not always possible to keep out of the garden and for that reason it is good to know how to deal with pest infestations.
Here are the 10 most common garden pests and how to repel, mitigate or destroy them:
These tiny sap sucking creatures are probably the most common of all garden pests. A plant that is attacked by aphids can be recognized by curled and twisted leaves or thick green, white or black clusters on the stem. Aphids are always present in the garden in certain amount and do not necessarily require intervention by the gardener. But a severe aphid infestation can cause a serious damage to the plant and requires immediate action. Various insecticides can be used to deal with aphids but you are highly recommended to avoid chemical pesticides as they are damaging to both the environment and human health. Instead, use organic and environmentally friendly pesticides such as stinging nettle spray or mixture of liquid dishwasher, vegetable oil and water.
Just like aphids, these small creatures typically live on the undersides of the leaves and feed on the plant, while spider mite infestation can be recognized by silk webbing and leaf discolouration. And just like other common garden pests, they adapt quickly to chemical pesticides and as a result, the chemicals which are used to destroy these tiny creatures by conventional gardeners are becoming more and more toxic. Fortunately, spider mites can also be successfully controlled by organic pesticides made of stinging nettle or garlic.
Slugs and snails.
Regardless if they have that adorable shell or not, slugs and snails like to eat vegetables too and usually do not mind flowering plants either. They particularly like seedlings and do not even give your plants the chance to grow. Slug and snail baits are available in just about every garden centre but you better stay away from the chemical ones which are toxic even to small mammals such as hedgehogs which are, by the way, a natural enemy of these common garden pests. Choose organic garden baits or create a barrier around your plants from crushed eggshells, sharp rocks, wood ash or similar sharp material because slugs and snails are unlikely to attempt to travel over a material which can damage their soft bodies. Also, consider handpicking early in the morning and late in the evening when they are most active.
They usually do not cause damage to the garden directly (except for ruining its aesthetic appearance with their nests), while some species even help control other common garden pests such as slugs for example. There are plenty pesticides available for ant control which are usually effective but they are not toxic only for the ants. If you want to avoid using chemical agents on your garden (and you should!), you can get rid of ants by digging up the nest. Eventually, they will give up repairing the damage and move away. Cinnamon powder is very effective ant deterrent as well because ants cannot stand its smell. However, it should be applied on and around the ant nest on a daily basis if you want to force them to leave the nest and build a new one outside your garden.
The larvae of moths cause severe damage to the plants as they typically feed on the base of stems, leaves or roots and may even cause the plant to die. Unfortunately, they are very difficult to control as they lay buried in the soil during the day and feed exclusively during the night. No pesticides are available for this pest but there are a few natural ways which will help you prevent them from causing damage to your garden. The most effective way to fight cutworms is to cultivate the soil before winter to expose them to birds and other wildlife species which feed on these caterpillars.
They typically help keep garden pests at bay and are attracted to the gardens by bird feeders, birth baths, nest boxes, etc. but there are a few such as pigeon and chaffinch for example which do not only feed on pests but garden plants as well. To protect your vegetables and fruits from the birds, use netting to prevent them from reaching the crops. Also, consider buying or making a bird scarer.
These tiny jumping beetles are one of the most annoying garden pests. They rarely kill the plant but they make a number of holes in the leaves. And if you by chance grow rucola, they make it virtually inedible. Unfortunately, there is no other way to get rid of them other than by chemical pesticides because they are to tiny and fast to be handpicked like most other beetle pests. However, think twice before you use chemical agents because you will eat that plant too. In addition, flea beetles usually do not cause a serious damage to plants such as Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and cabbage. But if you would like to grow rucola for instance, cover it with a fleece.
The microscopic moth-like insects feed on the plant sap and just like aphids, they always occur in thick clusters. They are more challenging to repel by using exclusively organic measures but there are a few organic pesticides which can be used to fight whitefly, while some such as lemon balm infusion (60 grams of fresh lemon balm per 1 litre of water) can even be made by yourself. However, if whitefly is continuously causing you problems, you should seriously consider preventive measures such as fleecing the plants which are typically infested.
Like its name suggest, this red beetle eats lilies or its leaves and steams to be more precise. Furthermore, it lays eggs on the underside of the leaves and when larvae hatch from the eggs, they feed on your lilies too. Since lilies are supposed to look beautiful and enhance the beauty of your garden, fleecing them really is not the best way to protect them from this pest. The greenest and most effective way to deal with lily beetle is to inspect your plants on a daily basis and remove all the beetles and larvae by hand, of course, by wearing a glove because you probably find them too repulsive to touch them with your bare hands.
They are adorable animals but it is not adorable at all if they are using your garden as a toilet or squashing your plants. In addition, male cats tend to urinate every couple of metres, especially during the breeding season and leave a highly unpleasant smell, not to mention that seeing a cat urinating on your salad makes you lose appetite to eat it. Several so-called cat deterrents are available in garden centres, while their results tend to vary greatly. Unfortunately, there are no proven ways to keep cats out of your garden, not even a fence. Do not leave any bare ground which is cats’ favourite place to defecate although this does not always work either as some cats are bold enough to defecate on the lawn without even trying to bury their faeces.