Springtime Pests That Will Make Themselves at Home in Your Garden
After months of winter’s doom and gloom, spring emerges to bring back all of our favorite activities — weekends at the farmer’s market, picnics in the park, backyard parties and more. For those with a green thumb, perhaps the most exciting part of the new season is the chance to get your hands a little dirty by planting, seeding, and tending to your gardens!
People love gardening for so many reasons: it's a great form of exercise, produces homegrown herbs and vegetables to add to your kitchen table, and provides you with a therapeutic activity to unwind and relax. The quickest way for this hobby to turn from a stress-reliever into a cause of stress is when your garden is invaded by pests. Garden pests pose a threat to your well-cultivated collection of plants, flowers, and herbs.
Whether you’re growing in a garden, nursery, greenhouse, or just planting a few pots on the patio, the key to growing healthy and lush plants is to understand the pests that may disturb your backyard oasis. When you can properly identify the unwanted guests, you have a better chance of preventing them from making an appearance.
Continue reading to learn more about the garden pests you should expect to see this spring.
Garden Pests to Look for this Spring
We don’t typically think of birds as garden pests — most of them are usually very beneficial to gardens because they eat insects that harm your plants. However, certain species like finches and sparrows are known to pluck seeds from the ground, peck at flowers, and graze fruits that you worked hard to grow. If you’re looking for simple ways to rid your backyard of pesky birds, consider using plastic owl figurines, garden spinners, wind chimes, or even scarecrows to keep them away.
From mice to rats to voles, small rodents can make big messes. Not only will these animals will eat your plants without hesitating, but they’ll also burrow in your garden and ruin the roots and soil. To prevent rodents from infesting your backyard, eliminate any potential nesting spaces by keeping the area neat and tidy — remove any garden clippings on the ground and cut any overgrown areas.
Aphids are very small (about ⅙ inch), pear-shaped bugs that pierce leaves and suck the sap out of them. There’s a chance you have an aphid problem if you’re noticing curled, misshapen, or discolored leaves. These bugs will wreak havoc on your garden because they reproduce in droves. They’re one of the few species that has single-gender conception, meaning the female aphids don’t need males to create new bugs.
One female may give birth to 100 babies, who give birth to their own babies, and so on and so forth until an estimated 600 billion aphids are descended from one bug in just one season. To combat these garden pests, invite ladybugs into your garden. These natural aphid predators eat about 50 to 60 aphids a day and will decimate the population in no time. For tips on how to attract these helpful insects read our blog, The Ladybug: A Yard’s Friend or Foe?
We all love the beautiful butterflies that call our gardens home — but in their larval state, caterpillars can cause a lot of damage. They chew through leaves and tunnel into fruits and vegetables, destroying vegetation in the process. Young plants are especially vulnerable to caterpillars, as they have a hard time recovering once their leaves are eaten. Once this happens, they can no longer complete photosynthesis, the process in which plants absorb sunlight and convert it into nutrients.
To prevent caterpillars, practice companion planting. Companion planting is the act of planting strong smelling herbs like peppermint in your garden to drive them away with the irritable scents.
5. Spider Mites
There are several species of these pests that could be infecting your garden plants: red, carmine, pacific, two-spotted, or willamette spider mites. Because they are only about the size of a dot that a pencil would make on a sheet of paper, they can pierce individual cells in the plant leaves and drain them of their contents. If your plants are looking dusty or as if there’s a small web being spun, you most likely have spider mites. These garden pests prefer dehydrated plants, so make sure to water them regularly to help prevent this infestation.
Related: Pests That Might Be Harming Your Houseplants
6. Japanese Beetles
Japanese beetles are about half an inch long and are a metallic blue-green color. Unfortunately for you, they are unburdened by picky diets and will eat just about any plants in sight. Often leaving your leaves “skeletonized” where they only have veins remaining because all of the foliage has been devoured. To protect your garden from these beetles, check out our blog, 5 Tips and Tricks for Dealing With Japanese Beetles, for a more in-depth look.
Need Some Help?
Gardening is an enjoyable springtime activity that so many of us look forward to each year. Don’t let your plans of building a beautiful backyard get squashed by the presence of garden pests — let us help! At Killingsworth Environmental, we provide comprehensive and affordable pest control management and lawn maintenance services to keep your garden healthy this spring.
Don't let pests ruin your yard, schedule an appointment with us today!