One bug does not make a problem! In nature, there are always some garden pests chewing on plants; that's just the way it is. However, not all pest damage is significant enough to warrant action. |
Even the healthiest gardens encounter bugs at one time or another, yet they still produce a beautiful harvest. As gardeners, we must each consider the level of pest activity that we are willing to tolerate.
The best way to maintain a healthy garden is to educate yourself and learn to identify common "bad bugs." Inspect your garden regularly to detect problems early. The sooner a pest is identified the easier it will be to manage using earth-friendly methods.
While the term "garden pest" may bring insects to mind for many people, it actually has a broader meaning that includes all insects and animals that interfere with the growth and health of plants. Diseases are considered to be a separate category from pests. There are five important categories of garden pests, but the particular garden pests that you may find will vary with your location.
Insects and other many-legged creatures: This group probably contains the largest number of different kinds of pests. Some are named for the crop they primarily damage, such as the Colorado potato beetle, the tomato hornworm, and the cabbage butterfly. Also prevalent, depending on where you live, are ants, aphids, borers, bugs, caterpillars and worms — such as gypsy moths and cutworms. centipedes, earwigs, grasshoppers, grubs and maggots, Japanese beetles, and weevils.
Plants have their own defenses either physical in the form of prickles or thorns and by producing toxins to make themselves unpalatable or even kill their attacker. Some of the insecticides contain these toxins, eg. nicotine, derris and pyrethrin. Recent research has found that some can release volatile organic compounds which warn their neighbours that they have been attacked and this stimulates the others to produce defensive toxins. Plants can be genetically modified to produce these defenses against attack. While there are many proprietary products for dealing with pests their side effects are not always desirable.
Pest control: There are a variety of means of controlling garden pests, depending both on the type of pest, and the particular approach one wishes to take. One can use deterrents, including companion planting, fencing, noisemakers, inflatable owls and snakes, and scarecrows. One can make the garden hospitable to pest-controlling creatures such as ladybugs, praying mantises, frogs, and toads. Other choices include homemade spray repellants (such as garlic spray), and commercial organic and inorganic pesticides. Traps in various sizes, including those that do no harm to the captured animal, are also available, sometimes on a borrowing basis
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