As a sustainable gardener, it’s crucial to master managing common garden pests using natural pesticides. See, any proper gardener will have a go-to pesticide to get rid of said buggers. However, most store-bought pesticides are highly toxic and harmful to your plants, beneficial bugs, the soil, and the surrounding ecosystem.
Certain natural ingredients mixed together repel pests from your garden, while keeping your plants, yourself, and other surrounding organisms safe. Familiarise yourself with these 10 common garden pests, and the eco-friendly pesticides you can use to subdue them successfully.
The problem with common garden pests
Pest damage varies depending on type of pest, what kind of plants you have, and how the pests behave around them. Some pests can kill your plants from the root; others just ruin your leaves. Some pests stay there just to feed on other pests, while others spread disease within and among your plants. Still, while not all pests behave the same, there are many different natural pesticides for whatever pest you may encounter.
Who would have thought that these awesome, majestic winged creatures would ever be called pests? Many an annoyed gardener, that’s for sure. As a matter of fact, crows and robins are a known nuisance to gardens. Not only do they snack on ripening fruits and vegetables, they also pluck seeds out of the ground for eating. Imagine how much rehabilitation your garden would need after these hungry twitters have had their way with it.
While harmless to humans, caterpillars can destroy a garden overnight. They feed on foliage, destroy stalks and stems, and render the leaves of plants looking very unsightly.
3. Slugs and snails
These slimy little nocturnal creatures terrorise our gardens and invade our homes from time to time as well. With a preference for low hanging plants in shaded, damp conditions, these lungworm carriers are extremely hazardous to pets, too.
Aphids resemble miniature pears with exceedingly long antennae and spiked tubes on their back. They favour fruits and vegetables and shaded trees and flowers because they can suck the sap from the poor fellows. As they feed on the sap of plants, they cause a lot of decay and distortion. They also facilitate the growth of certain mildews when they excrete honeydew onto plants, while inflicting viral diseases.
5. Flea beetles
Can you imagine a beetle that jumps like a flea? Neither can I, but here we are. Flea beetles are small and usually dark coloured beetles that jump exactly like fleas would. They are located in North America and are very damaging to young plants. In fact, their larvae feed on plant roots, meaning they can destroy plants significantly.
6. Codling moth
Codling moths are more commonly seen around apples. The adults chew and bury themselves into apples, laying their larvae in the fruit’s flesh. Have you ever bit into an apple and thought it tasted funny, only to see a worm upon closer inspection? Well that ‘worm’ was most likely the larva of a codling moth!
Thrips are a gang of creepy crawlies that are just waiting to destroy your garden and spread disease. Stealthy and microscopic, thrips feast on the surface cells of plants, lapping up the chlorophyll stored within them.
8. Mealy bugs
Mealy bugs look small and fluffy, almost like mould. However, don’t be fooled, as they are very well alive and fully functioning little creatures. They mostly target indoor plants because protected environments aren’t subject to external weather conditions. They breed rather quickly and are efficient at rapidly sucking the sap from plants.
9. Vine weevil
A vine weevil is a type of beetle that attacks both indoor and outdoor plants. It is one of the most common garden pests that can leave a garden in total disrepair. Adults mostly eat plant leaves in the summer. Much like flea beetle larvae, vine weevil larvae attack plants at the roots, causing imminent plant death.
10. Leaf miners
A collective term for the larvae of different types of flies, leaf miners feed on leaf tissue, causing discoloured trails. Their damage is harmless and merely cosmetic, but you may treat them if leaf appearance is a priority for you.
Natural pesticides to safely keep unwanted bugs at bay
There are many natural pest control remedies you can try in lieu of store-bought chemical bug sprays. Easily made from home ingredients, natural, eco-friendly pesticides are less damaging to soil and the environment than store-bought solutions are.
Never assume, however, that natural pest control sprays won’t damage soils or be toxic to humans or pets. Instead, do plenty of research and see which ones provide the best and safest protection from pests to your garden and home.
Some eco-friendly pesticides include:
- Neem Oil Spray – This recipe is good for scales, white flies, fungus gnats, aphids, and mealy bugs.
- Garlic Pepper Tea Spray – Insect infestations are no match for this spicy concoction.
- Oil Spray – Super simple to make, inexpensive, organic, and gets the job done! What’s not to love?
- Diatomaceous Earth – Use a shaker or flour sifter to pest-proof your plants with this powder.
- Chili Pepper Spray – Make this for insects, pests, and other animals that threaten your garden’s health.
- Soap Spray – The fatty acids in soap dissolve insect cell membranes, while keeping your plants safe.
- Tomato Leaves Spray – The alkaloids in this nightshade’s leaves repel leaf eaters and aphids, naturally!
- All-In-One Natural Pest Control Spray – Save for soap, this all-star natural bug spray uses ingredients you most probably eat on a regular basis.
The great thing about natural pesticides is you can create and then modify them whenever needed. If you feel a mixture needs more or less of something, go ahead and tweak it! Natural pest control remedies aren’t a set formula. There’s no saying that the ratios that work as desired for one gardener reaps the same results for another. So you can keep with the trial and error until you find something that works well specifically for you.
Related Post: Indoor Plants, Love and All That Jazz: A Plant Enthusiast Shares Her Natural History
A happy garden is a healthy, pest-free, sustainable garden
Garden pests are a problem even the most eco-conscious and sustainably-minded gardener will have to solve at some point. While part and parcel of nature, pests can be a complete nightmare if you let them abound. Luckily, there are many natural pesticides you can use to keep your garden luscious, sustainable, and pest-free. Oh did you want to talk about the ethics of pest control too? Let’s save it—that’s a story for another day.