Pests Are Coming This Summer...Tips to Fight Them
March 16, 2015
With summer upon us, it’s party time for many pests, and some holiday makers will be returning home to find uninvited, hungry home-sitters lurking at their homes.
Wasps, fleas, rats and flies all make part of the huge list of unpleasant visitors, and are ready for spring and summer.
Studies indicate that summers will continue to get hotter and longer each year, largely due to the effects of global warming, and best believe that pests will thrive and nourish during these less than pleasant times. One of the most common universal pet-peeves in gardening are pests. Combating these scaly, slippery and sticky critters that munch through leaves and suck the sap out from plants are among the most persistent features of gardening.
In our fight against common pests, our offensive should take place in summer when their population is bustling and devouring anything in sight. Ironically, fighting aphids, slugs, ants and aphids when their populations are at their peak is one of the least effective ways of eradicating them. Inevitably, because by the time we notice them their populations will have become so bloated, we often resort to chemical warfare, which more often than not brings about long-term negative effects on our garden.
In your efforts to dwindle these soaring pest populations this summer, effective and organic pest control mechanisms ought to be employed, and well in time.
Controlling Pests This Summer
Clean up during fall
There’s never a time when you can have zero pests in your garden, however the best way to exterminate them without using harsh chemicals is to keep their populations under control so that natural predators like spiders and ladybugs can keep their numbers in check. To achieve this, the best defense ultimately lies in good offense.
Normally soon after leaves fall and vegetables are harvested, most gardeners tend to take breaks from gardening. Putting some extra effort during this time will both deny them shelter and destroy overwintering eggs.
It will be very important and beneficial to keep weeding until the snow trickles and not stop in September. To overwinter, most pests find shelter in the detritus and weeds that grow in your garden. Certain species like aphids and slugs lay their eggs to overwinter. Deny them the winter shelter and you control their numbers.
Clean up flower beds by picking fall leaves. This is particularly important close to your home, where rats that dig under the snow use the leaves as little cabins and multiple like crazy.
Till the garden
Once you have pulled out your old tomato and squash plants, give your garden one more tilling. When you till the soil, you won’t only bury remaining plants and debris, which promotes soil fertility, but will also disturb those pests that will have setup house to overwinter.
Pests that overwinter in your garden need to be a certain distance from the earth’s surface. If too shallow they will freeze, and if too deep they won’t be able to dig their way up. Rototilling will throw them all over and their larvae and eggs will either freeze or be buried in too deep.
Rotate and Rejuvenate
Rotation is always a good idea when growing vegetables, especially if you have a soil dwelling affliction. Besides disease control, rotating helps regulate soil nutrients. Certain vegetables such as tomatoes deplete nitrogen levels in the soil while others like legumes add nitrogen.
An infestation can begin very small and unnoticeable for the first year, and then burst hundred fold the following year. Crop rotation mitigates this threat by denying the enemy access to the host.
Mix your signals
A confusing mix of scents and signals can help reduce different pests. Try increasing your biodiversity and reduce monoculture by mixing different species of plants. Instead of planting long rows of single crops, plant broccoli alongside tomatoes, onions with chives and basil as well as carrots and peas. Better yet, interplant ornamentals with edibles.
Attract your airborne defense squadron
One of the best strategies to combating an assault of pests is to draw an airborne defense squad of beneficial insects. These beneficial will include wasps that prey on caterpillars, they will gratefully use flat-top perching platforms on plants to their advantage which include carrots, parsley, Queen-Anne’s-lace and dill.
Get your own decoys
You can try to allow a single weed to grow which will act as decoy among your plants. Decoy plants can be very useful as they can attract pests and help keep these annoying guys away from your other important crops. For instance, striped blister beetles tend to prefer redroot pigweed than tomatoes growing nearby. Make sure that the pests are not finding their way towards your tomatoes by checking the pigweed every morning and shaking off any beetles into a container of soapy water.
Yes, even pests can be trapped too. Sow bugs, earwigs, snails and slugs all have something in common: they love hiding out in damp, shady areas during the day. Take full advantage of this trait by luring them with enticing “trap nests” – pieces of paper, boards, broken crockery, seashells, etc. Go out every morning and check each trap. If anything has fallen victim, dump the critters in a container of soapy water.
With all these tips to follow, you should be in a good position to deal with these annoying intruders come this summer.