Everything is planted in the garden and the flower beds are starting to fill out. You think we can rest but wait, are those holes in the leaves of your plant?
Have the bugs had a bite of your roses? Are earwigs buried deep in the leaves of your lettuce? Are the flea beetles mangling your perennials and vegetables?
Before you reach for the chemicals to get rid of them, consider that all of the insects are essential to having a healthy garden and planet.
What are some less toxic remedies to try in the garden?
Do you think you have slugs? Slugs look like an exceptionally fat worm with two snail-like eyestalks. Small saucers of beer tucked under leaves will attract them and they will fall in and drown. Slugs aren’t picky so don’t waste a craft brew on them, Bud works just fine.
Earwigs are odd looking insects which have pincers or forceps protruding from the abdomen. There are a couple of things you can try for these and one is a small saucer of soy sauce with a little bit of vegetable oil and you will get the same results as with the slugs. You can also roll up several sheets of newspaper and get them fairly wet. Slide them under your plants in the evening and throw them away in the morning.
Aphids are small pear-shaped insects that may be green, yellow, brown, red or black in color. They are a very weak, soft-bodied insect that feed on tender new foliage and buds. You can bet that if you have aphids, you will soon have a host of ladybugs feasting on them. If you can’t wait, then use soapy water with a few drops of oil and spray or dab on the foliage; you can also use garlic spray.
Flea beetles are common pests found on many vegetable crops including radishes, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach and melons. Flea beetles chew irregular holes in the leaves. Try a homemade spray of 2 cups rubbing alcohol, 5 cups of water and 1 tablespoon liquid soap to control the beetles. Another option is to dust your plants with plain talcum powder to repel them on tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and other plants.
Of course we know the Ladybug is a good beneficial bug. Ladybugs in the garden will help to eliminate destructive pests like aphids, mites and scale. Getting ladybugs to come to your garden, and more importantly stay in your garden, is easy once you know a few simple facts and tricks. The number one thing that will help attract ladybugs to your yard is food. Ladybugs eat two things: insect pests and pollen. They need both to survive and when these things are in abundance, ladybugs will happily relocate to your garden.
Recognize that most pests run their course if you are patient and wait, you will soon be back to beautiful plants.
Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.