All gardeners would agree that pests are a real problem. Even the most committed gardener is going to battle pests.
Reluctant to use pesticides on vegetable gardens because of the perceived risk of ingesting products. Most pest control or lawn care companies will not treat these areas for the same reasons.
Many kinds of insects love to feed on garden plants in Texas, taking advantage of their plentiful nutrients, whether they chew holes in the leaves, stems, roots, or fruit, or they stick their beaks into the plants and suck out plant juices. Either way, this can be bad news for a garden lover. But how do you get rid of them?
Most people find themselves reluctant to use pesticides in their gardens because of risks upon ingestion. Many pest control companies will not treat these areas for the same reasons.
The best treatment is to familiarize yourself with the common garden pests in North Texas to prevent infestations.
PillBug // SowBugs
Commonly referred to as Roly Poly’s, Sowbugs and Pillbugs are common garden pests in North Texas. Most people remember these nostalgic insects but they are a nuisance to a garden lover.
PillBugs and Sowbugs look very similar but sowbugs will not roll into a ball when disturbed. Surprisingly, these creatures are not actually an insect but are more closely related to shrimp. They are actually land-dwelling crustaceans.
Although they do not live in the ocean, they do need moisture to survive. They are attracted to the fruits and vegetables that grow on the ground because they tend to trap moisture.
These garden pests tend to only feed on decaying matter, but when conditions are right, they will feed on your favorite produce.
Pillbugs and Sowbugs enjoy feeding on melons, squash, and strawberries, but they love peas in particular because they usually sprout during very damp, cool days of spring or early fall.
It is possible to prevent these land-dwelling crustaceans.
The first would be to prevent moisture as much as possible. Keep produce off of the ground by utilizing trellises. Remember that Pillbugs and Sowbugs prefer decaying produce so be sure to remove fruits and vegetables from your garden well before they begin to decay.
Snails // Slugs
Gardens are especially attractive to pests like snails and slugs because they are usually well irrigated and moist. Just like pillbugs, slugs and snails need moisture to survive.
They are closely related to oceanic animals like the octopus. Both slugs and snails prefer to eat at night in moist, warm conditions. As young snails and slugs mature and grow, they will move and migrate towards better, fresher food sources and new shelter.
This coupled with their night activity makes it very difficult to locate and eliminate snail and slug infestations.
Slugs are unique in that they can spend time underground in search of moisture. They threaten root crops, newly planted seeds and bulbs.
Above the ground, snails and slugs alike prefer young, tender plant growth but will not discriminate against eating mature or decaying vegetation.
Produce most at risk from harm by snails and slugs are lettuce; tender herbs, such as basil; foliage plants; succulent fruits, such as strawberries and tomatoes; and even citrus.
A common way to help with snails and slugs is salt. Salt helps to draw out the moisture from their bodies as well as the gritty texture creates injuries. This method may be difficult because it is most effective when you directly apply the salt to the slug or snail.
Salt can also negatively affect the product in the garden. You can also take similar moisture limiting methods as discussed with Pillbugs.
Caterpillars are the immature life stage of butterflies and moths. It is typically the immature stage of moths that present a problem for North Texas Gardens.
The problematic caterpillars are often referred to as worms, for example, armyworms. Caterpillar infestations are fairly easy to identify because of the ragged holes their feeding activity leaves in plant foliage.
On well-established foliage, caterpillar damage may not affect health but feeding damage on smaller produce commonly found within gardens can be detrimental.
Caterpillars often feed in produce such as cabbage, kale, collards, broccoli, and cauliflower, and a group of vegetables collectively known as cole crops.
One of the simplest methods for controlling caterpillars is to pick them off plants and drop them into a bucket of soapy water or squish them. This method takes time and persistence, and everyone may not like to take such a hands-on approach to pest control.
Instead, you may need to opt for pesticides. Make sure to read the label on the appropriate time to spray before harvest so that the produce will be safe to ingest.
Aphids are soft-bodied insects that feed on the nutrients of plants. They pierce the stems and suck the sap from the plant, leaving behind curled or yellowed leaves, deformed flowers, or damaged fruit.
Aphids can feed on soft stems, branches, buds and fruit, and even roots of plant life, preferring tender new growth. There are many different species of aphids and often the name of the Aphid indicates their food of choice.
For example, there are green peach aphids, cabbage aphids, potato aphids, melon aphids, and many more. One year can see 3-4 generations of aphids and they reproduce fast!
A small sighting can grow into a major infestation in a short period of time.
Although they reproduce fast, there are ways to help keep damage away from your garden. Aphids are not strong insects. You can physically knock aphids off plants with a strong spray of water from a garden hose.
Even a good rainstorm can knock them off. You may notice more aphids in seasons with lighter rain. You can also introduce natural predators like ladybugs to reduce the population.
Although there are many insects like ants, who love the sugary honeydew and will protect the aphid population!
Look into what you have planted and the potential pests
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated pest management, often called IPM, uses a combination of pest control techniques that balance economic production and environmental stewardship.
IPM emphasizes only using pesticides when absolutely necessary and choosing the safest products available. IPM has become the main strategy for commercial agriculture today and is being adopted in urban environments as well.
IPM steps include:
- Pest identification: It is essential to identify pests and to have an understanding of pest biology. Out of all the insects that exist, less than 5% are actually considered pests. Just because a bug is present, does not mean it will pose a problem to your garden.
For example, in your home, termites pose a major threat to the structural integrity of your home and thus are a pest. But when present in your garden, they are essential decomposers and are extremely beneficial.
- Monitoring: Many organisms will not be dangerous in your garden unless they are present in large numbers. The occasional invading critter poses no significant problem.
Make sure to be aware of when “a few” becomes “too many” and monitor activity levels regularly.
- If necessary, take action. When the organism has been identified and is present at numbers determined to be a problem, ecologically sound management methods are used to reduce the population levels below threshold levels.
Protect Your Home with Pest Control
Insects can attack garden plants at all times of the year. Some insects will feed on sprouting seeds and young seedlings. Others feed on the growing plant or on the mature plant and its fruit. Pest control in a garden can prove difficult, but Gecko Green can help.
Let our experts help protect your home and lawn from pests so you can focus on taking care of your garden and produce without the added stress.
Gecko Green’s technicians are licensed and trained to deliver exceptional service and identify and address specific conditions that would increase pest activity.
Get peace of mind in your home and lawn with our guaranteed services. To keep your home & family safe year-round, let the local pest control experts at Gecko Green help.