How to Keep Pests Away from your Garden
Trying to grow a garden can be incredibly difficult. There are an array of insects and other pests that infiltrate and destroy precious gardens. There are two signs that indicate a garden pest problem: the pest itself, and the damage done to plants and other crops. There are many different pests and many different treatments to repudiate these unwanted guests. We will only focus on the main ones seen in California.
Aphids – They can range from 1mm to 10mm long. They generally have a green body and clear wings. Some signs of Aphid damage is honeydew or moldy leaves. You may also see leaf curling or wilting. Aphids have many insect enemies that can help eliminate them; however, insecticidal oils and soaps may help deter them away.
Scale Insects – These insects vary in their appearance. They can look like tiny oyster shells, mussel shells, or pearls. They secrete a wax that covers their bodies while they feed on the plant’s vascular system making them incredibly difficult to eradicate with pesticides. Instead, they may be suffocated by horticultural oils.
Giant Whitefly – They tend to grow under leaves of plants and, as nymphs, have small oval bodies. As an adult, they can grow up to 3/16 of an inch and they can develop wings. Giant Whiteflies get their name by the white spirals they imprint on leaves as they walk on them. At the moment, insecticides are not recommended, but biological control is being slowly introduced. If you do decide on insecticides, use ones with the least chemical agents.
Hornworms – They can grow up to 4 inches in length. They are green and have a tiny horn sticking up from their rear. Damage includes eaten leaves and fruits/vegetables. Hand picking the worms off can help. Biological control include wasps. If you have a large garden, insecticides may be useful. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “You can use the botanical Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis), which is a bacterium that acts as a stomach poison (but doesn’t harm other plants or animals).”
Thrips — Most adult thrips are elongated, slender and minute (less than 1/20 inch long). They have long fringes on the margins of both pairs of their long, narrow wings. Thrips can damage fruit, leaves, and shoots and very noticeably affect plants’ cosmetic appearance. Their feeding can also stunt plant growth and cause damaged leaves to become papery and distorted, develop tiny pale spots (stippling), and drop prematurely. Large infestations may be reduced with a strong spray of water, followed up with predatory insects such as ladybugs or pirate bugs. There are also botanical soaps and fats that can help get rid of thrips.
It is ideal, with a personal home garden, to avoid pesticides altogether. However, sometimes it can become necessary. There are many options available from biological control to horticultural oils and sprays. When choosing insecticides, consult with pest control companies.