Virginia had an unusually warm winter this year. This means there could be an increase in the amount of garden pests terrorizing your plants and flowers this summer. Because of the unseasonably high temperatures, many pest populations that would have been killed off by consistently freezing temperatures survived, and now they are ready to eat and reproduce at full force. To help, we’ve compiled a list of common garden pests and how to (simply and quickly) keep them away using homemade remedies.
1. Aphids: Aphids are tiny, light-green insects that suck up plant juices for food. Though they are small, their insatiable appetites can cause foliage to dehydrate and eventually die. When they’re done eating, they excrete a sticky, sugary substance that attracts other garden pests like ants. Additionally, they multiply rapidly, and can quickly form large colonies on individual plants and completely take over large gardens. Letting these pests linger for too long often results in complete disaster.
To remove aphids from plants, dilute a tablespoon or so of dish soap in a small bucket of warm water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and gently spray the infested plants gently and thoroughly. Be sure to also spray under leaves where aphids typically lay their eggs.
2. Earwigs: Earwigs can both be beneficial and destructive to gardens and crops. On one hand, they are the natural predators of other garden pests like aphids, larvae, and snails. However, earwigs also have an appetite for leaves and flowers, and often bore small holes in foliage that can end up causing trouble for your plants.
To kill earwigs, you can fill a shallow can (like a tuna fish or dog food can) in your yard and fill it with vegetable oil. Vegetable oil attracts earwigs, but they won’t survive taking a dip in the greasy liquid. You can also use old newspaper as a makeshift trap. Role it up like a tube and place it in your garden over night for best results.
3. Grasshoppers: The voracious appetite of an adult grasshopper has caused problems on farms and gardens throughout America. They can eat one-half of their body weight per day in leaves and foliage. When allowed to breed uncontrolled, they can defoliate entire fields of crops in no time.
Conveniently, grasshoppers are repelled by the smell and taste of garlic. It won’t kill them, but it will keep them off your plants. Crush up about two bulbs of garlic and mix it with a half-cup of water for a potent solution. Let the mixture sit for 24 hours and then spray it onto plants and flowers.
4. Slugs and Snails: Slugs and snails are ubiquitous in American gardens. They thrive in dark, shady areas and feed on decaying plants and flowers. They often thrive around foundations, rocks, and in freshly mulched, damp soil. In addition to feeding on dead plants, they chew large holes in living foliage and can completely destroy fruit. Almost every kind of plant is fair-game for slugs and snails. They are not picky eaters, and this means trouble for your garden.
Salt is, of course, the age-old remedy for slug infestations, but you can also kill off slugs with beer and milk traps! Simply bury a tall cup in the soil, leaving the rim ½ inch off the ground. Then, fill the cup halfway up with beer (preferably, a kind you don’t like drinking very much) or milk and wait for slugs to collect.
5. Stink Bugs: If you ask me, there’s nothing worse than the foul-smelling, loud, and terribly common Asian stinkbug. These pungent creatures will invade your garden and your home. They have a very versatile diet that includes almost every kind of vegetation, and their nibbling can cause discoloration, early decay, and other plant maladies. Not to mention, stinkbugs love sneaking indoors, and nobody wants a stinkbug infestation in their bedroom or kitchen.
Stink bugs can be easily trapped and killed by mixing detergent and water. Find a large bucket or container, fill it 1/4th of the way full with water, and then mix in one teaspoon of detergent. This concoction works for trapping stinkbugs both in and outside of the home.
All of these tricks will help control pest populations in your lawn and garden; however, the most effective form of pest control is prevention. A healthy, well-watered and well-trimmed yard is a great form of prevention. Roanoke Landscapes can keep your yard healthy and free of dead plants and debris so that you can focus on creating a beautiful outdoor living space. And, if the pests continue to bother you, we can help with that too. Major infestations should always be handled by professionals. Give us a call and we can help you prepare for whatever the summer has to bring!