It’s a gardening fact that you can never keep those creepy-crawlies out of your garden. No garden be it in a good form can be spared from them… it’s where they get their food and believe it or not your garden need them as they are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. A healthy balance can be achieved between damaging and beneficial bugs by having a variety of plants in your garden, creating a great biodiversity.
Now the question you should be asking yourself is how you can maintain your garden in its best form. The first thing you need to do is to educate yourself about these pests and how to identify them. The earlier you can identify damaging bugs the easier it would be to control them. This would mean a regular tour of your garden to inspect your plants and isolate the problem quickly.
Below are 3 common and most damaging pest you will find in your garden.
Appearance: These are soft-bodied insects and come in a variety of colors. They are pear shaped are usually 1/8 inch long with whip like antennae on their head and structures called cornicles at their hind end.
What it does to plants: These saps sucking pests are found clustered on the underside of leaves where they feed and secrete sticky fluid called honeydew. Infestation causes the leaves to curl and wilt resulting in stunted growth.
How to control them: Infested plant parts should be pruned off. It can also be blasted with strong stream of water or sprayed with insecticidal soap. Another way is to introduce predatory insects like lacewing and ladybugs in your garden.
Appearance: Extremely tiny and almost impossible to see without an eye aid. They are oval in shape with a reddish brown color. They belong to the family of arachnid, which means they are not considered as insects. Their close cousins include spiders, scorpions and ticks.
What it does to plants: Spider mites target new leaves and buds and once infested, the plants lose their green color and start to look washed out. They feed by piercing the tissues of leaves and sucks up their juice. They can be very destructive in greenhouses.
How to control them: Use only organic or natural control method or wash affected part of plants with strong stream of water. If severely infested, cut parts or pull out the entire plant to prevent mites from spreading.
Appearance: The larvae have a pale green color and moves like an inch worm. The caterpillar is light green in color with a white stripe on both sides of the body. Adult moth has a distinctive silvery number 8 mark on each grayish brown wings.
What it does to plants: They nibble on leaves, causing ragged holes usually between the veins. Excessive damage can stunt plant growth. Target plants are brassicas, including tomato, cucumber, melon and beans.
How to control them: Maintain a weed-free plots and regularly check the undersides of leaves for larvae. Pick and drop them in soapy water.
Remember, whatever you do, avoid using chemical pesticides in your garden which can indiscriminately kill your beneficial insects.
Have fun gardening. Go organic.