Growing your own garden can be a rewarding practice and a ton of fun, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. It’s hard enough to deal with the weather and try to figure out the right amount of soil and water that you need for each plant, but there are other outside factors that want to damage your garden. Of course, we’re talking about garden pests, and they can be found in just about every garden around the world.
Out of the many garden pests that are out there, there are a certain few that roam around more often than others. We’ll take a look at five of those pests that seem to do the most damage to gardens, and how you can control them so that your plants grow healthy and full.
If you’ve ever gone into your garden and seen tiny little green bugs that look completely harmless crawling on your plants, there’s a good chance that you saw an aphid. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, aphids seem to seek out gardens, but they mostly stay in areas that are more temperature. Aphids love to munch on a wide range of plants including citrus plants, fruit trees, and flowers such as roses and camellias.
Thankfully, aphids really aren’t that hard to keep away from your garden. Simply spraying your plants with a strong stream of water may be enough as they are easily rattled and probably won’t get back to the plant that they were feasting on when they become disoriented. If you have a continued problem with aphids, you can always mix a little bit of dish soap and cayenne pepper into a water bottle and spray the plants.
Caterpillars are one of the first insects that we learn about when we’re growing up. We all know that they turn into beautiful butterflies, but before then, they can be pests in your garden. Caterpillars need to feed because they are in the larval stage and are in a state of rapid growth. Unfortunately, instead of only eating grass (which wouldn’t really be a problem), they can end up having a buffet in your garden.
Let’s face it, none of us want to eliminate caterpillars, so we’ll focus on the most humane way to get rid of them. While wearing gloves, pick caterpillars off of your plants and relocate them. It’s time-consuming, but if you like caterpillars that much, you’ll take the time. The other options are neem oil or the same spray that you use to get rid of aphids.
Having regular spiders in your garden can actually be a good thing since they tend to keep pests away. However, their cousins, the spider mites, can prove to be a difficult challenge. Spider mites are different in their shape and the way their webs are formed. Spider mites have a more dense and very fine web. When you start seeing these webs, that’s when you know you have a full-on spider mite infestation.
Once you have leaves that are covered in spider mite webs, it’s best to just get rid of those leaves altogether. From there, mix a cup of alcohol in 30 ounces of water in a spray bottle and apply it to both sides of all of the remaining leaves. Then continue to spray the rest of the plant, and the spider mites will be on their way out.
The pests that we’ve listed off so far definitely look like bugs, but scale insects are ones that look more like they belong on the bottom of the sea (or at least at the bottom of a boat). These tiny insects have around 8,000 species in total, with some of them looking simply like amorphous blobs on your plants. It can be hard to see some of the species unless you get right up next to them, but thankfully it isn’t too hard to get rid of them.
Insecticides won’t do much against scale insects, so you have to get a little creative. Pruning your branches is a big help, and you can forcibly remove them with a strong stream of water from your hose or apply neem oil to the plants. If you want to keep things at their most natural, you can introduce some other bugs that get rid of them, including ladybugs or even wasps. With that said, it’s probably best to go with the ladybugs.
The Japanese Beetle is one of the more intriguing pests out there. In their native Japan, they aren’t even considered pests because they don’t feed on plants. However, when they make their way to Europe and North America, they become highly destructive. Between fruits like grapes and trees like birch or linden, Japanese Beetles ravage the eastern parts of the United States more than anywhere else.
Farmers suggest that the most effective way to get rid of these pests is to remove them by hand and place them into soapy water. If you don’t feel like taking the time to find every Japanese Beetle, you can spray your plants with neem oil. You can also be proactive and prevent them from even approaching your garden by placing row covers from May to June if you’re in the United States.