Here at Earthwise Pest Management, we mostly handle issues with pests entering homes or commercial buildings. However, just because a pest is outside, doesn’t mean it can’t cause damage. Pests can easily destroy your landscaping and are especially detrimental to gardens with flowers, herbs, produce, and other plants.
In today’s blog, we’re stepping away from interior residential pest control and dealing with outside bugs that wreak havoc on something you have likely spent a lot of time tending to: your garden.
Keep reading to learn more about common garden pests as well as which bugs and insects can actually do the pest control for you!
Bad Garden Pests
Below, you’ll find pests that can destroy a beautiful garden in no time. These bugs, if left unaddressed, can easily infest flowers, vegetables, and fruit in your garden.
Red Spider Mites
As you can probably guess from the name, these mites look like a small red spider. They are smaller than the size of a pinhead and difficult to see with the human eye. Their damage, though, is easy to spot.
A plant that is infested with red spider mites will start to look unhealthy and you will see blotchy yellow areas on the leaves. The underside of the leaf will usually appear dusty, which is the result of webs that the mites spin.
Gall mites are parasitic mites that feed on leaf tissue. Chemicals in their saliva mix with chemicals in the tree, creating a gall — a wart-like growth on the leaf. These galls then enclose the mite, and the mite feeds from inside of the gall, sucking nutrients away from the leaf. While galls come in different shapes, colors, and sizes, the most recognizable galls are formed from maple gall mites, which are bright red in color.
Codling Moth Larvae
The cliche of a worm in a shiny red apple likely comes from the codling moth. Codling moth larvae burrow deep into certain fruits, mainly pears and apples. They burrow down to the core and destroy the fruit. These larvae can quickly take over entire apple and pear trees if not controlled, ruining nearly all of the available fruit.
Both adult vine weevils and their larvae can destroy plants in your garden. Vine weevil larvae burrow into the ground and feed on the roots of plants, weakening their structure and sometimes killing them. Adult vine weevils feed on the leaves of plants, and are identifiable by the half-moon notches they eat out of the edges of leaves.
Sawfly larvae are caterpillar-like and feed on leaves, often in large groups. This means rather than devouring a few leaves here and there, they can easily take down entire plants if not controlled.
Pest Controlling Bugs
Of course, we couldn’t just talk about the bad bugs without talking about the good ones! As a pest control company, we like to keep pests out of your home, but that doesn’t mean we think all bugs are bad. So many bugs and insects are necessary for the ecosystem to thrive. Below, we’re listing some helpful bugs that get rid of the plant-destroying critters listed above.
Ladybugs are more than just nice to look at. They are one of the most beneficial bugs to have in your garden. These little beetles feast on bad bugs like aphids, whiteflies, and other smaller beetles.
You can attract ladybugs to your garden by planting certain plants like fennel, dill, and cilantro.
Aphid midges are tiny flies that feast on, you guessed it, aphids. Female aphid midges will lay up to 250 eggs at a time. After the eggs hatch, the larvae will feed on nearby aphids, devouring about 60 or 70 per day.
Aphid midges can also be attracted with dill, but chances are if you have aphids in your garden, the aphid midges will already be there ready to eat.
Minute Pirate Bugs
These little bugs will eat just about any bug in your garden — including some of the good ones on this list. Minute pirate bugs will eat spider mites, aphids, thrips, and other small pests.
If you need to attract minute pirate bugs to your garden, try planting some alfalfa or daisies.
We know that anything with the word ‘wasp’ in its name probably isn’t something you want around the house, bu braconid wasps are small parasitic wasps that don’t cause humans much distress. Instead, they are one of the best bugs to have around if you are dealing with one pest in particular: the tomato hornworm. Tomato hornworms are bright green caterpillar-like larvae that destroy your beautiful tomato plants. Braconid wasps actually deposit their eggs into hornworms. The eggs will hatch and the larvae will emerge, feasting on the hornworm until it dies. Once the larvae transform into adult braconid wasps, they eat aphids, codling moths, and various caterpillars.
Like many of the other bugs on this list, you can attract these wasps with dill. Other plants that produce small flowers also work well such as parsley or wild carrots.
Ground beetles consist of thousands of species of ground-dwelling beetles. Ground beetles are nocturnal and prey on other critters on their level, including slugs, snails, maggots, and caterpillars.
You can attract these beetles with all kinds of flowering plants.