No gardener wants to be attacked by bugs that ruin all of their efforts. They don’t care about how you’ve labored in the soil to bring forth beautiful flowers and veggies. They just want to get in on the feast!
The thing is, not all garden bugs are bad. This means it’s important to know what to look out for, so you know what solutions to employ.
Here are a few of the “usual suspects” known to harm your yard and garden.
There is a good chance that your plants may be harboring mealybugs, as there are over a hundred varieties. Most species prefer a warm habitat, which means we are especially susceptible here in the North Texas region.
They get their name from the mealy appearance on the leaves, caused by their voracious munching. Eventually, the damaged foliage ends up resembling a cottony mass that resembles a cobweb. Yuck!
In addition to the visual damage, mealy bugs will weaken your plants by suckling on the available sap. So what to do?
Isopropyl alcohol, either as a wipe or a spray, can effectively deter mealy bugs and kill their eggs. Just be sure not to use in excess, as you don’t want to damage the foliage or root system.
Aphids are small soft bugs, often invisible with naked eyes. They can be grey, black, brown, or yellow in appearance. If allowed, aphids will destroy large fields of crops as well as your quaint and colorful garden.
The problem with aphids is that they can infect every part of a living plant, all the way down to its roots. This is why it’s important to be very proactive in preventing them.
They attack the nutrient-rich liquid within the plants’ leaves, vines, flowers, fruits, and root systems. Unlike some other predators, these bugs do not discriminate! They’ll take what they can get from every nook and cranny of your beloved garden. Simple and easy way to get rid of aphids is to spray cold water to dislodge them. Horticultural or insecticidal sprays also do good to control aphids.
Fortunately, spraying a bit of cold water, mixed with a drop of dish soap, is really helpful. The mixture helps dislodge them from the leaves and stems, and also deters them from returning.
Common pesticides, as well as beneficial bugs (like ladybugs and cicadas) can also reduce the population of aphids in your garden.
Tomato hornworms are quite common bugs in the garden, as they love to munch on your veggies. Be on the lookout for pale green caterpillars with a striped abdomen, black spots, and a larger spot at the bottom.
True to their name, they do prefer tomatoes. But they can also affect peppers, potatoes, eggplants, and other nightshades.
So what to do?
Common insecticides are always helpful, but you also face the issue of applying those chemicals directly to the vegetables you intend to eat. Shocking as it sounds, beneficial wasps are the best answer!
Braconid wasps are a great example of this. While they are capable of stinging humans, they really rarely do. They’re more interested in preying on those fat, juicy tomato worms! Fragrant herbs and flowers, such as chamomile, catnip, and alyssum, can help attract these helpers to your garden.
There are several different types of mites, and none of them are good news for your lawn and garden. Grass mites, lawn mites, clover mites, and brown wheat mites can all wreak havoc on your beautiful green landscape. This is true even if you don’t have any clover or wheat on your lawn.
Mites are attracted to areas that receive high heat, as well as less moisture and irrigation. This means you need to be on the lookout in sloped, sun-heavy, and peripheral areas of your lawn.
Mites create irregular patches of yellowed grass that somewhat resembles straw. So what do you do to control them?
Fortunately, your run-of-the-mills pesticide will work just fine, without harming your grass. Additionally, you can take preventative measure by watering your lawn evenly. Even an occasional winter watering- so long as the temperature is well above freezing- can help stave off these foes.
Chinch bugs enjoy sunny, grassy areas where they can snack on turf grass without being noticed. They’re often hard to spot because they’re so small.
They also enjoy feasting on wheat, barley, and corn, which makes them somewhat of a hazard for crop fields as well. The major issue with these foes is that they can overwinter, meaning they can hibernate and then re-emerge come springtime.
Chinch bugs don’t like moisture and humidity, so a good deterrent is simply keeping your lawn and garden well hydrated. Additionally, common pesticides work well. It may be wise to apply early on in the spring season, due to their ability to overwinter.