The insect realm is rife with creepy-crawlies, be they smelly stink bugs , sneaky weevils , or simply slimy cockroaches. Yet certain bugs are capable of wreaking havoc in the garden, destroying harvests and stripping colorful blooms. Keep reading to learn all about them! Commonly called assassin bugs, these bad boys of the insect world belong to a large group in the Reduviidae family.
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A favorite morning ritual for many gardeners is to head outdoors with their coffee and check on their tomatoes and squash or flowers and shrubs.
It's the gardening version of scanning the overnight Twitter news feeds or catching the morning news on TV. What's not comforting is to find that part of your garden disappeared while you slept. Suppose your morning jolt is not from caffeine but from discovering leaves that looked fine yesterday were munched on overnight? Or from realizing that flower buds you've been waiting to open are completely gone?
Or from wondering why the tomato you were giving one more day to fully ripen is no longer on the vine? Your first instinct is likely to nuke everything with chemical pesticides. However, there's a better option for you, your plants, and the soil in which they grow.
Invest a little time to find out what's eating your plants and what — if anything — to do about it. One mistake homeowners can make is to immediately blame plant damage on bugs. In fact, the culprit may be Bambi or Bugs.
There's a way to tell whether the cause of the problem has four feet, six feet, orLook at the leaves. That's where all pests leave a telltale signature.
When you learn how to read their signatures, you'll know who to blame and what to do. The signature for deer, for example, is jagged edges on leaves and stems. Deer have small teeth on their bottom jaws but a hard palate without teeth on the top. As a result, they tear off plant parts rather than bite cleanly through them. In addition, the damage they cause is well off the ground.
Another deer signature, if the ground is soft, is hoof prints. The signature for rabbits, on the other hand, is a stem bitten off cleanly at a degree angle. That's because rabbits have very sharp teeth. Not surprisingly, the damage they cause occurs close to the ground.
In winter, rabbits may leave another signature called girdling. This occurs when they eat the bark completely around the bottom of a tree or shrub, which can kill the plant. Deer and rabbit repellents, like Liquid Fence, are available at garden centers. Or, if you want to make your own using ingredients such as rotten eggs, check out the tips at ThriftyFun.
Additional homemade deer controls, other than growing what they won't eat, include shaving off slices of bath soaps and spreading them around the garden or placing human hair among your plants. Rabbit controls include mesh fencing or netting and pop-up type plant tents.
If telltale signs on your foliage don't match those of deer or rabbits, then it's a safe bet the uninvited diners are insects. In that case, William G. Hudson, an Extension entomologist with the University of Georgia knows your pain. But, before you grab a can of insecticide, Hudson says it's important to realize that "Most insects are either beneficial or neutral visitors. The first step, Hudson says, is to understand that there is an almost countless number of creeping, crawling, slithering and flying insects that inevitably can and will show up in any home landscape.
Because many insects can attack a variety of plants, he advised homeowners to develop a control plan directed at insect groups based on their leaf signature rather than trying to identify and control specific insects.
Their signatures are holes or jagged edges in leaves. Pests include caterpillars, grasshoppers, and beetles. Control plans depend on your goals and the size of your operation, Hudson says.
Many of the caterpillars in home gardens are the result of night moths and aren't the real target of a pollinator garden in the first place, he says. If you aren't squeamish and have the time, you can pick them off by hand and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.
If you must use an insecticide, organic sprays are available at garden centers. Their primary signature is a stipling effect that blanches the color on the upper surface of leaves. That's because these insects are liquid feeders that puncture leaves and suck out the juices. These bugs can populate oaks, maples and tulip poplars where they feed on a high volume of sap that is relatively low in the concentration of some important nutrients.
They make up for that, Hudson says, by processing lots of liquid and passing the excess water and sugars out as "honeydew. An unsightly sooty mold can use the honeydew as food and grow on it, which will turn objects on which the honeydew has landed black. Other examples of sucking insects include scale, spider mites, whiteflies, azalea lace bugs, and stink bugs.
Soaps and oils are effective on the small, soft-bodied pests in this group aphids, whiteflies, scales, and spider mites but not the larger ones such as stink bugs. You will need an insecticide for those, Hudson added. Their signatures are the holes they leave behind in the stems of woody plants such as trees and shrubs. Examples of these insects include certain types of beetles and caterpillars. Their damage is especially harmful, Hudson says, because they kill plants rather than leaving them just looking unsightly.
Because borers most often attack plants under stress, the best offense is a good defense — keep plants as healthy as possible by avoiding stresses such as not watering during droughts or accidentally wounding plants while pruning, which can invite attack from clear-wing moths.
There are no effective treatments after borers are in the plant. The most obvious signature is holes in corms that hug the surface of the ground in plants such as iris. An example of a pest that feeds on roots at or below the soil line is grubs, the immature stage of beetles. Here again, good culture is the best way to keep grubs and other insects from eating the corms.
Hudson suggested digging iris up every few years and thinning out the beds, moving extra plants to new beds, or sharing them with friends. If you must spray, commercial ground drenches are available. Alton N. Here is how Sparks groups insects on edibles and steps he suggests to control them. As with ornamentals, these chewing insects damage leaves. You can pick them off and dispose of them as with ornamentals or use a commercially available organic spray containing Bt Bacillus thuringiensis , a naturally occurring bacterium that is fatal to feeding caterpillars.
Entrust is an organically approved insecticide that is highly efficacious against caterpillars. The signature of these fruit-feeding insects is spotting on fruit, such as yellowish to whitish cloudy spots on tomatoes.
Other favorite targets in home gardens are sweet peppers, okra, sweet corn and beans. Another signature is their ability to hide, which makes them difficult to see. These are the most difficult insects for homeowners to deal with on edibles, Sparks says. Sparks recommends sprays containing pyrethrum, which is the strongest insecticide allowed under National Organic Standards guidelines.
Pyrethrums, however, break down very quickly when exposed to sunlight. The next step up from there, Sparks says, is pyrethroid insecticides, which are synthetic and not organic.
The signature of these sucking insects is yellow, curling, and distorted leaves or a black growth on the leaf surface. If you want to use something stronger, Sparks suggested insecticidal soaps and highly refined oils not a dormant oil.
If you choose this option, he says to be sure that the spray completely coats the insects. This is important because soaps and oils basically suffocate the pests. Soaps and oils, however, do not have a residual effect. They are contact sprays and you will need to spray more than once to kill new insects that hatch from eggs or new arrivals to your garden.
An important point with any insecticide is to check the package label to be sure the plant you want to treat is covered by that product, Sparks says. Labels will also advise about not just frequency of intervals to spray but also pre-harvest intervals, he added. By Tom Oder Tom Oder. Tom Oder is a writer, editor, and communication expert who specializes in sustainability and the environment with a sweet spot for urban agriculture.
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Aphids are tiny insects that can usually be found in groups on the undersides of leaves and stems. The cabbage looper is the caterpillar of a grayish moth with a silver spot in the middle of each wing. You can distinguish them from the cabbage worm by looking for 4 white stripes running down the body. The eggs are dome-shaped, light green, and are laid on the underside of the leaves.
From ants to squash vine borers, we'll cover natural pest control for 20 For mild aphid attacks, try hosing the plant off with a strong jet of water.
Unfortunately there are a lot of pests and other animals out there that include succulents in their diet. Even if it is not their natural food, animals seem to like water filled, succulent leaves and drive succulent enthusiasts around the bend with all sorts of damage done to our precious plants. So what eats succulent leaves? The list varies depending on where in the world you are, but the most common animals that eat succulents around the world are aphids, mealy bugs, caterpillars, grasshoppers, snails and slugs. Here in Australia and possibly America we have a huge fan of succulent leaves that likes to eat the tender new growth in the middle. They can mow several plants right down overnight and love chomping on the center of Echeveria, Graptopetalum and all the other beautiful florette- like succulents. If you have possums and your succulents are within their reach and are missing big chunks of leaves, it is extremely likely the possums are the culprit. We are a working nursery based in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and the healthy numbers of possums could really wreak havoc on our plants.
Make a donation. The grey squirrel is a common mammal that in gardens can both delight by its acrobatic movements and annoy by damaging trees, feeding on flower buds, bulbs, fruits and vegetables. Grey squirrels have are adaptable animals, they are omnivores feeding on material of plant and animal origin. In gardens they can cause conbcern when they damage ornamental plants, fruits and vegetables. Particular favourites are tulip bulbs, crocus corms, sweetcorn , strawberries , apples , pears , nuts, sunflower seed heads and flower buds of camellias and magnolias.
Squash bugs Anasa tristis are one of the most common insect pests found on squash and pumpkins in the home garden. Although they are speedy, in high numbers, adult squash bugs are hard to miss.
Insects are a major limiting factor in commercial vegetable production. Growers need to quickly recognize insect problems and practice early control to prevent a buildup and keep insect pests from getting out of control. Insects either have a complete or incomplete life cycle. Insects in the complete life cycle group have four distinct stages, the egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Examples of these insects are beetles and moths.
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Find out how you can keep animals out of your vegetable garden. that work for your vegetable garden might mean a bit of trial and error.
At first, the young nymphs have a light green abdomen and black heads and legs. As the nymphs grow larger, they first turn light gray and then brownish-gray, with black legs and antennae. Squash bugs can live through the winter as adults in sheltered places, such as under plant debris, around buildings, or under rocks.RELATED VIDEO: Learn what insect can cause this damage on cucumbers/Growing with Lalascrops/Gardening 4 beginners
It was only a few weeks ago that your newly planted garden seemed to be doing great, perhaps even picture perfect. But now the season of mysteries has begun, with leaves showing spots, holes, and missing parts, usually with no insect in sight. Good thing we live in age of easy digital photography, which makes it possible to get a closeup view of holes in leaves, making the clues easier to see. Here are some seasonal problems you are likely to discover when you snap closeups of distressed leaves, or make use of a simple magnifying glass.
Many common garden and greenhouse pests are so small that they appear to be nothing more than tiny white dots. But these bugs can cause serious damage to your plants.
Nor do we want them digging up the daffodils. Your vegetable garden is a salad bar for your dog. To keep him away, spray plants with pungent white vinegar or apple bitter. Or plant marigolds between vegetable rows, which repel dogs and other backyard pests, such as Mexican bean beetles, aphids, squash bugs, and whiteflies. Dogs love the smell of urine and will either roll in your sprayed plants or leave an odor of their own. Sprinkle powdered mustard or red pepper flakes around your plants. A few sniffs and licks of these unpleasant tastes will discourage your dog from returning to the area.
The problem is that there are not many deer resistant vegetables, because deer like most of the things that people like and are often indiscriminate eaters, especially when they are hungry. Being ruminants, deer can ferment digest a wide variety of plant material. Any experienced gardener can tell you that vegetables called deer resistant vegetables are only slightly resistant, and few plants are deer proof.