There is a huge variety of garden pests including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, mould, fungi and some animals. While some pests are tolerable, such as weeds, other pests can cause serious damage and will need your immediate attention. Majority of people believe that eradicating a pest invasion indoors solves the problem, however the underlying cause is normally in the yard and garden surrounding your house.
Basic Control Measures
Having a well-kept lawn and garden goes a long way into warding off pests and diseases. Unfortunately, sometimes your lawn and garden will need help eradicating weeds, insects and diseases. Below are some valuable guides to assist you with protecting your yard;
For the best results, it is recommended to dig up weeds while they are still young and growing, if you leave them in the earth too long they will rebirth annually. In the chart below is a list of the 5 weeds you should be most worried about.
Type of Weed
How to Terminate
|Clover||Common in spring and summer, Clover has three leaves which are mainly dark green with creamy white flowers.||There is a wide range of natural & chemical sprays available at nurseries and hardware stores.|
|Paspalum||It is a lanky coarse-leafed grass with distinguishing sticky seed heads. It launches itself in thinned areas of lawn during spring and summer||Herbicides with DSMA are ideal. Hand-weeding of established plants is also an easy, effective option.|
|Onion Weed||Grows quickly upwards with 3 to 6 long thin leaves coming from the one weed. It has pale pink flowers and a deep bulbous root system that is tremendously hard to exterminate.||Check the labels on weed killer sprays to see if it is formulated for this weed.|
|Wintergrass||This grass weed is light yellow-green in colour sprouts in winter and also appears in spring. It usually dies out in the heat of summer but its fertile seeding guarantees its reappearance if not treated.||If you have a Wintergrass problem, use a catcher on your mower to collect seed heads. Herbicides such Endothal are effective.|
|Bindii||A common broadleaf weed with twelve or so tiny delicate leaves per cluster. Bindi’s have numerous prickly seed heads that are painful when stepped on.||Kill off young seedlings just before Spring using a herbicide with active ingredient ‘Bromoxynil’.|
In nature, there will always be some garden pests chewing on plants, no matter what you do. Yet, not all pest damage is substantial enough to permit action. Even the fittest gardens come across bugs at one time or another, yet they still yield a stunning harvest. As gardeners, we must each deliberate the level of pest commotion that we are prepared to endure.
Pests are a standard part of every garden. They come and go with the seasons without really instigating too much spectacle. The most common garden pests are snails, grubs, aphids and grasshoppers. In healthy gardens, they are kept in check by birds, frogs and lizards as well as beneficial predatory and parasitic insects.
Learning to identify common pests is the best way to preserve a healthy garden. Below is a small chart with the most common garden adversaries.
|Aphids – small (usually 1 – 4mm), soft-bodied insects that can be found on a wide range of garden plants, including roses, hibiscus, all citrus, impatiens and vegetables. Species range from yellow, to green to black. Aphids can stunt the growth of the plant, distorted or wilted leaves, cause buds to drop, and can result in a poor flower and fruit yield. They are sap suckers, and will digest the plants’ sap to create a sweet residue called honeydew.||There is a range of chemical treatments that you can get from your local garden centre or hardware store. Homemade remedies include a spray made from 100g of fresh garlic and/or chilli, crushed and fermented for 2 days in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of liquid soap or soap powder. Strain into a garden sprayer and dilute 1 part to 50 parts water. Garlic acts as a repellent to further Aphid attack. Blasting aphids with a jet of water from your garden hose also works, however this is only a temporary solution and needs to be repeated every 2-3 days.|
|Black Scale – can usually be found on citrus plants, olive trees and vines. These small black insects cover the plants’ leaves and stems. This can reach a level where they can stunt the growth of the plant, as the plant is denied the necessary sunlight it requires to grow. In addition to this, Black Scale will sap the nutrients from the plant, excreting the residue honeydew. Like the Aphids, these sap suckers create honeydew, which attracts Ants and Sooty Mould.||For small amounts of Black Scale, you can get of this simply by brushing it off the stem or leaf with a toothbrush or knife. For larger infestations, spray the plant with a special treatment for this pest, or alternatively, you can spray oil on the plant which will suffocate the Black Scale within a few days. You can mix regular vegetable oil with liquid soap, dilute this with water and spray on your plants, however be sure not to spray oil during hot sunny weather, as this could end up burning the plants’ leaves.|
|Mealy Bug – another common garden pest, and favouring shade, can be found in sheltered spots in your garden, patio areas and even on indoor plants. Like the Aphids and Black Scale, the Mealy Bug sucks the sap from the plant, causing it damage to health and growth. The plants’ leaves will usually wilt and distort. Also like the other sap suckers, the Mealy Bug produces honeydew, which leads to the same conditions of Ants harvesting from them, and Sooty Mould fungus. Again, eliminating the producer of the honeydew will help control the Sooty Mould||One sure way to eliminate this pest is to dab methylated spirits on them. This will dissolve their waxy coating, and they will dry out and die.|
|Citrus Leaf Minor – This pest targets all citrus plants (as the name suggests). The larvae burrows into the leaf, leaving silvery paths. Once grown, the larvae will curl the edges of the leaf together to help form the cocoon. Inside the cocoon, it will pupate into its final form as a small moth (roughly 5mm long). This pest distorts the leaves of the plant, which can stunt growth and reduce yield. It can be especially damaging to the tender new growth of the plant.||Remove any leaves that are effected and show the silvery paths of Citrus Leaf Miner. You can also protect new growth by spraying the new growth with oil (again mixing vegetable oil with liquid soap will do the trick). As Citrus Leaf Miner prefers hot, sunny weather, you can avoid attacks to your new growth by planting your citrus plants during the autumn months.|
|Snails and Slugs –
These common garden pests can cause damage to young plants, seedlings, and vegetables. While they can be numerous (especially in damp areas of the garden), these pests are quite easy to handle
|Slug pellets scattered beneath the plant will help keep slugs and snails at bay, however these pellets might be harmful for pets or children. You can also try the method of spraying salt-water on the plant (be careful not to spray to much, as this could dry your plant out!), the salt will dehydrate the slug or snail, and they will die. Also, another clever way to eliminate this pest is to use a coffee spray. Mix one-part espresso coffee (very strong -0 the stronger the better) to 10 parts water, and spray the plant and surrounding soil. This again will dehydrate and kill the pest.|
|African Black Beetle – Commonly these beetles attack lawns, vegetables and ornamental plants. In summer the beetles and their grubs feed on the roots of the lawn causing large dead patches. The adult beetles are most active in mating time, which occurs in early spring and late summer.||Infested areas should only be treated with chemicals if necessary. Sprinkling fenamiphos granules over the lawn and watering well can also control this problem.|
|Borers – Borers often attack old, weakened or damaged shrubs and trees, entering the affected area. They tunnel into the plant leaving a mass of sawdust.||Best defence is to keep plants well fed and watered. Scrape away damaged bark and attempt to bring out the borers. More effective is to squirt a few drops of methylated spirits or kerosene into the borer tunnels and putty up the holes to prevent water entering.|
|Bronze Orange Bugs – These bugs are serious pests of citrus trees. The bugs suck sap and cause shoots to wilt and die, and the flowers and fruit to fall.||Chemical sprays such as dimethoate or omethoate are effective. Although dimethoate should not be used on kumquats, Seville orange trees and Meyer lemons. It is best to spray in the early spring when the bugs are still juveniles. Goggles should be worn when spraying as these bugs can squirt a smelly, acidic liquid.|
|Cabbage White Butterflies – These caterpillars are destructive to all species of the cabbage plant. The caterpillars feed from under the leaf starting from the outside. Infestations are worse in late summer and early autumn.||Spray with carbaryl or with bacillus thuringiensis (a disease that affects only caterpillars) or use a contact powder such as derris or cabbage dust.|
|Fruit Flies – Attack many fruits and vegetables, they lay eggs into the fruit as it ripens and hatch into maggots. As the maggots mature they drop to the ground where they soon emerge as adult flies. This cycle can take approximately 5 weeks. Fruit flies attack in spring and continue through summer.||Control is essential. Control is almost impossible without spraying, which should be done fortnightly from fruit set. If fruit falls, do not leave it on the ground for more than 3 days; and do not bury the fruit.|
Mould and Fungi
If you have a plant disease like fungus, mould, bacteria, mildew or blight, you need help. These are all common plant diseases. The diseases may be spread by insects, spores, soil or debris. Gardening equipment can also transmit disease from one plant to another. Reducing the spread of disease in plants can best be accomplished by doing two simple, yet extremely important things;
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