What You Must Know About Garden Pests in Southern California

Homeowners strive to take care of their gardens. Whether there are vegetables, landscape, flowers, shrubs or fruit trees; they invest money, effort and time to maintain a healthy garden, creating something they can be proud of to complement their beautiful homes.

But no matter how much we try prevent it, culprits, such as pests and insects, sneak into the flower and vegetable beds. One infestation can ruin all your hard work, with nothing to harvest but pale decaying plants instead of luscious vibrant ones.

Many homeowners don’t want to resort to conventional pesticides to remedy pest problems in their gardens. But sometimes they have no other choice. 

Listed below are the most common pests in Southern California. We’ve even included wintertime pests and what you could do about it.

Most Common Garden Pests

Voles and Moles

Voles and Moles are within the mice family, they look slightly similar to mice but they are larger and with shorter tails and smaller heads.

How do you know when you have Voles in your garden?

  • You will have partially eaten plant bulbs and roots
  • Your root crops are partially eaten
  • You will notice 2-inch pathways across your garden

Moles, however, are larger than voles. They look very similar to each other but moles belong to the bat family. Centipedes, slugs, and snails are their prey. They don’t eat plants but they create air pockets around plants’ roots, as well as tunnels that destroy your garden.

How to get rid of them in a natural way?

Remove their food sources- Identify what they are feeding on and quickly harvest them.
Set up a peanut butter cage trap- The easiest way to lure them.

Snails and Slugs

Slugs don’t have outer shells like snails but they cause the same problems. These two are invasive and destructive.

How do you know when you have snails and slugs in your garden?

  • You’ll notice holes on flowers and leaves.
  • They can destroy fruits and vegetables that are close to the ground.
  • You will notice trails of slithery mucus on your leaves and grass, as if someone sneezed on them.

How to get rid of them in a natural way?

  • Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth on your infested plants
  • Plant rosemary or thyme nearby
  • Sprinkle used coffee grounds on your plants

Whiteflies cluster under the leaves and they reproduce pretty quickly for up to 400 eggs at a time.

How do you know when you have whiteflies in your garden?

You will notice white dots in a circular pattern under your plants’ leaves and you can scrub it off with water and soap.

However, in case of severe infestation, you will notice your plants dying and having a yellowish appearance with sticky residue on leaves. This residue can lead to more serious issues that could ultimately destroy your entire garden because of fungal infections.

How to get rid of them in a natural way?

  • Vacuum the flies
  • Cut off dead leaves and branches
  • Wash your plants with soap and water repeatedly

Wintertime Garden Pests

Winter in California doesn’t mean it’s snowing, the weather is still mild which makes it perfect for these creatures to come in and wreak havoc in your garden during those short winter months.

The California Ground Squirrel’s breeding begins around December, like moles and voles they also create tunnels which makes the landscape unstable.

You will be able to see holes, and partially eaten vegetable and fruits. They also chew on bark and sprinkler heads.

How to get rid of them?

The same way you can get rid of moles and voles, by setting up peanut butter traps.
Remove what attracts them: fallen fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Winter Rodents

Rats and mice are more active during wintertime. They eat your plants and destroy your garden. They can also infect your garden with several pathogens like Salmonellosis. Their urine is known to be fatal when ingested which can cause leptospirosis on humans and other animals.

  • Set up mouse traps
  • Place baits strategically
  • Plant peppermint in your garden as they hate the smell

Natural Solutions

We have provided natural solutions to get rid of garden pests but if you think it’s not enough you could call your pest control expert. Make sure they use the most environmentally friendly pest control application.

Here are a few more general pesticide-free natural solutions that could prevent and deter pests:

  • Maintain stronger, healthier plants by taking good care of them. Water them frequently and feed them with nutrients. Strong and healthy plants are more equipped to resist infestations.
  • Cut off dead and dying plants ASAP. These attracts pests.
  • Put ladybugs in your garden, these can control some pests like whiteflies.
  • Place a wire mesh around gardens and wire screens, you can also dig a trench to trap squirrels, voles, and moles.


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