Pesky garden pests can wreak havoc in your garden. Your lovingly tended organic garden can be destroyed by these insects. But there are some non-toxic ways to keep away garden pests. Environment friendly solutions like spraying natural insect repellents and using some home treatments can be used to repel these unwelcome garden visitors. There are some botanical sprays available too, but these should only be used as a last resort. Read on to know more about some common garden pests and how you can get rid of them:
Every gardener knows this common pest. Caterpillars are larvae with a segmented body and hard head with six front legs and fleshy rear legs. They chew on the leaves of vegetables and fruits, trees and ornamentals, sometimes tunneling into vegetables and fruits. You can get rid of caterpillars by natural parasites and predators. Hand-picking your harvest helps and you could use row covers.
Aphids are pear shaped insects that have two tubes projecting from the abdomen towards the rear, and long antennae in front. These pests can be found hanging on flowers, vegetables and fruits and ornamentals, and trees. They suck up the plant sap, which causes distortion of foliage and leaves start dropping. The honeydew that is excreted on leaves cause mold growth.
To check these pests, you could encourage aphid midges, lady beetles and lacewings. Wash your plants with strong bursts of water and cover them with row covers (floating), apply garlic and hot-pepper repellent sprays. For severe problems, apply neem, insecticidal soap and horticultural oil.
You could make a citrus-rind spray by grating one lemon or orange rind and combine with 500ml of boiling water. Let it stay overnight, strain it in the morning and remove the rind bits. Put this mixture in a spray bottle and spray on the aphids. Don’t miss spraying underneath the leaves as aphids usually gather there. Keep spraying every 4-7 days, till you get rid of all the aphids.
Slugs and snails
Slugs love beer and you can fill up a tuna can or use any tin food can and fill it with beer. Bury this in your garden up to the brim. Slugs will move inside the beer can and drown, Throw out the can and replace it with a fresh, beer filled one in the morning.
Snails love damp and moisture. You could put up a few boards at strategic places in your garden. Snails will gather under the boards, and you can scrape them up and throw them into the trash.
Snails and slugs are less attracted to dry soil, so watering your garden in morning is a good way to keep them away.
Contrary to popular belief, earwigs do not lay eggs in your ears. But they can damage your garden. Roll wet newspaper sheets and lay them at various places in the garden at evening time. Collect the wet newspapers, along with the bugs, as early as possible in the morning, preferably at sunrise. It’s best to burn the newspapers along with the bugs as they might escape and return to the garden if you throw them in the trash. Or you could tie the bugs and papers in an airtight plastic bag and put it in the trash. You could shake the bugs into the sink or toilet and flush them.
Japanese beetles and grubs
The larvae of Japanese beetle feed on garden and lawn plant roots and adults chew flowers and eat up leaves completely. One way to get rid of these pests is to shake the plants early morning thus dislodging them. Another very effective method is to spread milky spore powder in your soil. It is a natural powder and takes up to year to be established in the soil, but once it does, it kills grubs thus eliminating beetles and works for more than a decade.
Scales weaken plants as they suck the sap. You can get rid of scales by pruning infected parts and scrubbing scales gently from plants using soapy water and a soft brush. Spraying with neem oil can also help.
Garden pests should be controlled by natural methods when they first show, otherwise they become a problem which needs chemical intervention.