Whether it be in your community garden, or your own personal plot, nothing can instantly kill the good mood of any professional or amateaur gardener like finding their precious plants have been overtaken by a horde of hungry insects. Here are some of the most common garden pests and how to deal with them.
Somehow, some way, these tiny terrorists seem to find their way into nearly every garden. The aphid’s main diet consists of plant sap, which means that they are feeding directly on your flora. Not only does their casual dining damage plants and decrease their yield, but they also encourage the growth of fungus on your plants, which can cause plants to turn black and die.
If you’re looking to go the natural route, you can seek to eliminate your aphid population by unleashing its natural predator into your garden. This fearsome hunter is none other than the common ladybug. In a lifetime, a single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects that would otherwise be munching on your plants, making them a very valuable partner in maintaining your garden. Lady bugs can be purchased at many hardware stores, or online.
This pungent pest gets its name from the unpleasant odor that they are able to emit when threatened. According to the EPA, stink bugs have been found in 38 different states, as well as the District of Columbia. Due to their wide reach, odds are, you could be sharing space with a stink bug family. Stink bugs attack gardens with a vengeance, causing damage to plants like tomatoes, beans, peppers, corn, apples, raspberries, etc. Even worse, these nasty little guys have a tendency to move from the garden, straight into your home when the cooler temperatures arrive.
When it comes to ridding your garden of stink bugs naturally, your best bet might actually be deterrents that keep them from taking over your greenery in the first place. Be sure that your garden area is free of any debris, weeds or overgrowth, as this is their favorite place to hide. Some experts suggest the use of kaolin clay, sprayed on plants to prevent insects, like stink bugs thom laying their eggs on leaves, as well as keeping them from turning your harvest into their dinner.
Squash bugs are some of the most common garden pests and, as their name would suggest, they damage plants like squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. While they may appear innocuous, they can inflict some serious damage, causing young plants to wither and die, and damaging the yield of more mature plants.
Because these stinkers are so destructive, early direction and mitigation is crucial in order to save your harvest. Check your plants often, especially early in the season when your plants are small and especially susceptible. Remove any eggs, nymph or adult bugs as soon as you see them. Unfortunately, removing adult squash bugs can be a tricky endeavor, in that they hide under leaves and are able to move quickly when found.
If All Else Fails...
If natural methods don’t work for you, or if tour infestation is a bit too severe, there are many different types of insecticides that can be used in order to rid your garden of all things creepy crawly. Before you move forward with chemical warfare, do some research. Be sure that you choose a product that is both formulated to meet your specific needs and address your specific problems, while also being safe for your family, pets, pollinators and plants.
Some insects and other bugs are actually very beneficial to a healthy garden. In order for your vegetable plants and fruit bushes and trees to thrive and produce, you will need the assistance of pollinators like bees and butterflies. As mentioned before, lady bugs are fierce predators and can help to rid your garden of those who seek to do harm. The praying mantis, while it may appear a bit creepy, can be a very helpful garden inhabitant. Being that the mantis is a carnivore, they hunt and eat other insects that may be lurking among your lovely plants. The one downside to having a mantis move in is that they don’t discriminate as to the bugs they’ll chow on, meaning that they may choose to snack on the other beneficial bugs that are living in your garden.