Not only can a well maintained lush garden enhance the aesthetic value of your home, it is considered by many to be one of the most rewarding hobbies. To watch your creativity and hard work come alive in the truest sense of the word is what gardening means to most of us.
However, there are pests out there which can totally obliterate all your hard work and lay waste to your garden even before it can bloom into fruition. If you see too many of these, it’s time to take drastic measures before they breed further and overwhelm your entire garden.
Characterized by their pear-shaped bodies and the two projecting tubes near the end of the abdomen, Aphids are known by many names like plant lice, greenfly, whitefly and blackfly. While only 250 out of the 4,400 or more known species of the insect are considered to be harmful, if the bad ones do come into a garden, they can cause some serious harm.
The primary damage which they cause to the plant is deformity. As they suck the sap out of the plant, the leaves start to fall out and the stem of the plant itself may become deformed over time. Additionally, and more alarmingly, aphids carry over 150 types of viruses that can infect and even kill your garden.
Aphids are prey to many other insects and as a result, you may also start to see other kinds of pests in the garden. Although the insects themselves are not easily visible to the human eye, the telltale sign of aphid infestation is a kind of sticky honeydew deposition which if left unwashed, can cause mold to grow on the leaves and branches of the infected plants.
Japanese beetles, or June beetles, are surprisingly not as harmful in their country of origin (Japan) as they are in the US, where they pose a threat to plant life in multiple ways. The bugs devour the sap in the leaves and the leaves themselves. In case of a serious infestation, the plants in your garden can lose all their leaves which could eventually kill the garden, if left untreated.
The bugs themselves are easy to spot, but the grub worms are not. As the Japanese beetle lays its eggs underground, that’s where the white worm-like larvae moves around and feeds. If the soil is infected, there will soon be dead brown patches on the grass lawn. Also, pressing on the lawn will reveal the ground to be soft and squelchy under it. Pulling on the grass may cause the infected portions to simply peel off, often revealing some of the grubs.
However, as a gardener, you should be even more concerned
with figuring out how to get rid of grub worms, than the adult insects. Grub worms are the underground larvae of the June beetle, and they will eat grass roots, potatoes, corn, roses and even the very nutrients in the soil around them. Once the larva matures, the adult beetle will push its way out of the soil and attack the leaves and flowers in the vicinity.
Even though butterflies and moths as adults are not exactly considered to be garden pests, their larvae can be devastating to vegetation patches. Caterpillars typically have six legs and they are all on the front most segments of their body. Although it may seem like a caterpillar has many more legs on the other segments of its body, they are only fleshy appendages. The head is a separate capsular segment which is harder than the rest of the body.
These hungry little larvae eat leaves, fruits, flowers and vegetables, when and where they can, until forming a pupa and hatching into a butterfly or a moth. While an infestation of gypsy moth larvae can eat through a medium-sized garden in a matter of days, they are not the most difficult of pests to get rid of at an early stage. In fact, caterpillars are sometimes used to control the population of weeds and other unwanted plant life. You will be able to spot them easily and remove them manually by being vigilant, before the numbers develop into an infestation.
There are various other common garden pests which you should keep an eye out for and they include, armyworms, asparagus beetle, earworms, cabbage worms, blister beetles, cucumber beetles, cutworms, earwigs, stink bugs, squash bugs, spider mites, wireworms, thrips, Mexican bean beetles, potato beetles and many more. It is only natural for a garden to always have some pests in it. An alert and attentive gardener should be able to keep their populations under check without too much of a problem in most cases with a little help from neem oil, insecticidal soaps and bug traps.