Early July Pest Check!

Summer has seriously settled in, and it’s time to get serious about pest maintenance. This growing season had a late start for much of our American gardeners, and it was cool enough for a lot of us to get started without being bothered by potential troublemakers. Now it’s time to look out for the creatures that keep going after our hard work.

Aphids are a tiny, pear-shaped, long antennae species that have two tubes bulging rearward from the stomach. They can be found in most gardens that host fruits, vegetables, flowers, and shade trees. Aphids may be small but they can cause a lot of damage. They suck plant sap, which will alter foliage and make leaves drop. Aphids also cause mold growth because of the honeydew they excrete on leaves. This, in turn, helps spread viral diseases. If you find them in your garden, wash plants with a strong burst of water and cover plants with floating row covers. Hot-pepper or garlic repellent sprays also do the trick.

Another bug to look out for is the cabbage maggot. They have ¼-inch gray flies and larvae that are white, tapering maggots. As the name suggests, they’re found in cabbage-family crops. Maggots tunnel in roots, which kill plants directly or create entranceways for organisms carrying diseases. The best way to control cabbage maggots is by putting up floating row covers. Another tip is to delay your planting with the idea that many of the first generation pests are killed off by then.

Yes, you probably know about caterpillars–at least as far as them being soft, segmented (and strangely cute) larvae that have a hard head capsule. Caterpillars are known for their six legs in the front and their fleshy, false legs in the back.  You can find them in gardens that grow fruits, vegetables, and shade trees. Caterpillars destroy gardens by chewing on leaves or along margins and tunneling into fruits. Their droppings also soil the produce. To protect your garden from them, apply floating row covers or buy Bacillus Thuringiensis to spray on the plant.

And don’t forget to watch out for Japanese beetles. That’s the evil monster pictured above. They’re ½ inch beetles that have metallic blue-green shells and bronze wing covers. Their larvae are fat, white grubs with brown heads. They’re found in gardens that grow vegetables, small fruit, and flowers. Japanese beetles skeletonize leaves, chew flowers and defoliate plants. Their larvae feed on lawn and garden plant roots.  To get rid of them, shake beetles off the plants in the morning. You can also apply milky disease spores to soil and floating row covers to help with the problem.

Summer’s finally here for sure, but what’s the point in putting in effort if pests are going to end up destroying your plants? We can never completely get rid of these nuisances, but we can work on controlling the issue. Protecting your garden from pests is important for growing healthy crops. If you know what bugs to look out for, you can be one step ahead of the problem.

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