Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Garden Pests Part 1

I take a rather laid back approach to visitors to my garden. Here's a picture of a cute little fellow that took up residence in a piece of rug my husband was supposed to put on the patio. He stayed with us until the fall giving my husband the perfect excuse not to put the rug down.
Mr. Toad

Other visitors are not so welcomed. We've had a problem with wild rabbits. They are kept out of the garden by using a motion activated sprayer called "the scarecrow" and in the case of one bed, I used a short height of chicken wire surrounding the bed. In the early spring when the threat of a heavy frost was quite real, I used a mixture of cayenne and powdered pepper. I don't like using this solution if at all possible. We've had a problem with other pests as well.

The box elder bug is more annoying than damaging.
Box Elder Bug
They hang around the garden having sex all day creating more of the little critters. If they get in your house or greenhouse they leave nasty little marks over everything. A solution of 3 - 4 drops of liquid dish soap mixed with water then sprayed on them gives an almost instant kill. It is about the only way to control them and even then it will not rid your garden of box elder bugs once infested. Controlling is the only way to deal with these little pests.

Caterpillars can be quite damaging in the garden especially the cabbage worm. Since I try to avoid pesticides where possible, I control caterpillars manually by removal. I didn't get a picture of the cabbage worms that destroyed my broccoli crop. The tomato hornworm can be destructive if left unchecked. While tomatoes are the primary target, this caterpillar will feed on peppers and potatoes. A natural enemy of the tomato hornworm is the braconid wasp that lays eggs on the caterpillar. The larva feed on the tomato hornworm until they are ready pupate. If you see white projections on the tomato hornworm it means it has been infected by the wasps so it is best to leave it in the garden. If no white projections are apparent, manual removal will prevent further damage.
Tomato Hornworm

The swallowtail caterpillar can descimate parsley or any member of the carrot family in a relatively short period of time, eliminating your entire crop. While the caterpillar is rather pretty it had to go! I've heard that removing these caterpillars to anise will save the parsley but since I didn't have anise growing last year, the caterpillars were simply removed. The funny thing is I never noticed any swallowtail butterflies around the garden and I do tend to take notice of garden visitors. This year I plan to take a different approach. Any swallowtail caterpillars will be removed from the main herb bed and place on parsley grown in pots just for them. That way I will be able enjoy the caterpillar, butterflies, and my parsley!
Swallowtail Caterpillar

White grubs are really the bane of lawns. This grub will mature to become a June Beetle. Natural enemies of the grub are small mammals such as skunks and birds. Encouraging skunks in the garden might not be the most prudent thing to do so grub control is necessary. June Beetles are large chesnut brown beetles that look rather menacing. For the most part, I really don't get too hung up on them. Last year they showed up in the raised beds. Manual removal worked best without using any pesticides.

June Beetle

I'll post my further adventures on garden pests in part 2.


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