Gardens make a great home for pests, whatever the weather
When you’re gardening, nothing can ruin a beautiful day quicker than pests.
From flying pests like wasps and mosquitoes to larger infestations of mammals such as moles these issues are an outdoor reality for gardeners.
But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with them, and there are steps that you can take to help keep them away and out of your garden.
Read on below for our guide to some of the most common garden pests, and how to remove them.
There are about 1,350 species of aphids, also known as plant lice, in North America.
These pesky pests eat plant sap and like to live on or near the plants they eat, but can also collect under leaves, and on coniferous and deciduous trees.
Aphids wreak more damage on cultivated plants than any other insect. They often eat in large groups, so an aphid infestation can quickly destroy gardens and flower beds.
To keep these pests away:
- Insects like ladybugs, hoverflies, and lacewings, eat aphids. So consider adding plants which attract these beneficial bugs, such as Fern-Leaf Yarrow, Sweet Alyssum, Dill, and Cornflowern.
Mosquitoes flock to gardens in the summertime to lay their eggs on the standing water.
Their constant buzzing and annoying bites make them a nuisance – but they’re much more than that. Mosquito bites can cause very painful inflammation and some can transmit diseases.
To keep these pests away:
- Remove any standing water from gutters, birdbaths or flower pots.
- Fill redundant ditches or holes.
- Keep ponds, water features and fountains clear.
- Trim back all tall vegetation.
Wasps and Bees
Gardens can play host to a whole range of stinging pests, each with their own characteristics. Wasps can sting multiple times, and bees will sting when threatened. You need to be on the lookout for all of these pests – and their nests.
Bees and wasps are beneficial and are actually needed for pollination. But hornets and yellowjackets are some stinging pests that you really do not want to see in your home or garden.
To help keep wasps and bees at bay:
- Keep a light on in areas such as sheds and storage spaces where wasps may nest around your garden, as they prefer to rest in the dark. Use a yellow-toned light as white light attracts flying beetles and wasps.
- Secure garbage lids and plant fruit-bearing trees away from your home, as both can attract these pests.
- Fill in any abandoned rodent holes in your lawn before they become a hiding spot for wasps.
- If you do find a wasp nest in your garden, call a professional pest control service to ensure it is safely destroyed.
Earwigs forage for dead or decaying vegetable matter, dead insects, spiders, aphids, caterpillar pupae, piles of leaves, vegetation, and mulch – all of which they could well find in your garden, together with the damp, dark habitat they prefer.
While breaking down rotting vegetation is good for the soil, earwigs in gardens may destroy healthy plants and flowers in the process.
To prevent an earwig infestation in your garden:
- Make sure to remove any decaying vegetation.
- Clear leaf piles, grass clippings, and compost.
- Fix any leaky downspouts, reroute drains, and repair any broken irrigation systems.
Boxelder bugs, also known as maple bugs, primarily suck the sap out of the seed pods of female boxelder trees, but have been known to infest maple and ash trees, as well as fruit trees, including cherry, plum, peach, and apple.
Boxelder bugs do not bite, but are a nuisance. The bugs also inflict cosmetic damage to trees, leaving behind speckled leaves and scarred fruit.
To prevent boxelder bugs taking over your garden:
- Replace any female boxelder trees you have with males.
Moles spend most of their time underground, preferably in loose, moist soil that makes burrowing easy and attracts plenty of insects. They prefer to eat grubs, worms, slugs, and other insects, and will seek out gardens with an overpopulation of grubs.
However, moles cause damage by tunnelling along hedges, sidewalks, and walls as well as under lawns, flower beds, and shallow foundations. As they burrow, the pests expose plants’ delicate roots, creating dead patches in lawns and gardens.
To prevent a mole infestation in your garden:
- Maintain a healthy lawn to deter grubs.
- Use castor oil or dense soil to repel moles.
- Dogs and cats are the mole’s natural predators so a family pet might be the solution to your pest problem.
On the quest for food and shelter, rabbits often make their way to residential gardens. They particularly like to eat grasses, clover, herbs, lettuce, peats, dandelions, sapling leaves, and the bark, twigs, stems, and buds of birch, oak, maple, and dogwood trees.
However, rabbits can ransack gardens and farms, nibbling on crops meant for human consumption and destroying expensive landscaping and plastic irrigation lines.
To stop rabbits invading your garden:
- Erect high fences that go as far underground as they do above ground.
- Remove collections of debris and brush.
- Install flashing lights as scare devices.
Raccoons will eat almost anything they can find – and that means they may make their way to your garden, particularly if you live in an urban area.
These pests can do massive structural damage, especially if they decide to set up home on your property. They can also carry various diseases that are dangerous to humans.
To prevent a raccoon invasion in your garden:
- Cover all possible entrances.
- Remove potential food sources.
- Use trash cans with tight-fitted lids.
- Bring all pet food inside overnight.
- Trim back any overgrown trees and foliage and store wood piles in shed.
- If you find a raccoon on your property, call a professional pest control service to have it removed safely, humanely, and legally.
Fire ants live in mounds of mud and leaf litter in gardens, where they forage for dead insects, fly larvae, grasshoppers, other ant species, caterpillars, and moths.
Fire ants can attack humans and have an extremely painful sting, akin to being burned by a fire.
To stop fire ants invading your garden:
- Fire ants are not easily removed, since they form colonies with dozens of queens and up to 250,000 workers.
- Remove any standing water around the garden.
- Move wood piles away from structures.
- Trim back any overhanging trees and shrubs.
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