Bedding plants and perennials provide the home owner and landscaper with a multitude of colors and textures. Unfortunately, numerous insects, mites and other invertebrates (ie. slugs, sowbugs and millipedes) consider these same plants as food! |
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.
Not every garden, flower, or plant will face all of these threats, but every gardener will have to deal with some of them at one time or another. Pests will always cause some damage to our flowers but is the amount of damage unacceptable?
The sooner a pest is identified the easier it will be to manage using earth-friendly methods. In order for you to manage the activity and damage caused by these pests, you must understand "pest management" and learn how to identify each pest. There are numerous "bugs" in a healthy garden and most do no damage. A common mistake is to spray anything that moves. Each plant has a number of pests that may attack the flowers, foliage, stems or roots. Some of these pests will only attack a certain kind of plant. Other pests are generalists and can feed on a variety of plants. This fact sheet will attempt to help you identify the common "generalists" and suggest methods of keeping them under control. We now use the term "Pest Management" because we know from experience that there is no way to totally rid the garden of unwanted pests. We can merely attempt to keep pest numbers low to minimize their damage - this is management.
Diagnosis of a Problem In order to manage pests, you must become a pest detective. To do this, you must learn some of the terms used to describe pest damage to plants. Generally, pests have either chewing or sucking mouthparts. Locating an actual specimen of the pest makes diagnosis easier. Many pests stay on the plant at all times and a close inspection is all that is necessary. Others run or fly when disturbed and you may need to sneak up on the plant to avoid scaring the pests. Carefully approach the plant low to the ground and try to observe the plant's upper and lower leaf surfaces without casting a shadow. Many pests come out at night and you will have to look for these with a flashlight. We know that complete reliance on pesticides will eventually fail. In order to manage pests and their damage, we need to use cultural (and mechanical) control (ie. resistant plants, traps, crushing and sanitation) and biological control (ie. predators, parasites and diseases) with chemical control.
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