Knowing More About Common Garden Pests
If we could garden without any interference from the pests which attack plants, then indeed gardening would be a simple matter. Except for all the time, we must watch out for these little enemies’ little size, but tremendous in the havoc they make.
Heaps of wastes are lodging places for the procreation of insects. I do not think a compost pile will do the damage, but rumpled, neglected acne seem to invite trouble. As human sickness may frequently be prevented by healthful conditions, so pests may be kept away by strict garden cleanliness.
Many of common birds feed upon insects
There are certain helps to keeping pests down. The constant rousing up of the soil by earthworms is an aid in keeping the soil open to air and water. Many of our common birds feed upon insects. The robins, chickadees, sparrows, orioles and meadowlarks are all examples of birds that help in this way. Some insects feed on other harmful insects. Some kinds of ladybugs do this good feat.
The ichneumon-fly helps too. And toads are wonders in the number of insects they can consume at one meal. The toad deserves very kind treatment from all of us. Each gardener should try to make her or his garden into a place attractive to toads and birds. A good birdhouse, granule scattered about in early spring, a water-place, are invitations for birds to stay a while in your garden.
If you wish toads, fix things up for them too. During a hot summer day a toad likes to rest in the shade. By night he is ready to go forth to eat but not to kill, since toads prefer live food. How can one “fix-up” for toads? Well, one thing to do is to prepare a retreat, damp, quiet and dark. A small number of stones of some size underneath the shade of a bush with perhaps a carpeting of moist leaves would appear very fine to a toad.
General Classes of Insects
There are two general classes of insects known by the way they do their work. One kind gnaws at the plant really taking pieces of it into its system. This kind of insect has lips built-in to do this work. Grasshoppers and caterpillars are of this sort. The other kind sucks the juices from a plant. This is in some ways, is the worst sort. Plant lice belong here, as do mosquitoes, which prey on us. All the scale insects fasten themselves on plants, and suck out the life of the plants.
The gnawing fellows may be caught with poison sprayed upon plants, which they take into their bodies with the plant. The Bordeaux mixture which is a poison sprayed upon plants for this purpose.
In the other case, the only thing is to attack the insect direct. So certain insecticides are sprayed on the plant to fall upon the insect. They do a lethal work of attacking, in one way or another way, the body of the insect.
Most of the times we are much troubled with underground insects at work. You have seen a garden covered with anthills. Here is a medicine, but one of which you must be careful.
This question is constantly being asked, ‘How can I tell what insect is doing the destructive work?’ Well, you can tell partially by the work done, and partially by seeing the insect itself. This latter thing is not always so easy to achieve. I had cutworms one season and never saw one. I saw only the work done. If stalks of tender plants are cut clean off be pretty sure the cutworm is abroad. What does he look like?
Well, that is a hard question because his family is a large one. Should you see sometime a greyish striped caterpillar, you may know it is a cutworm. But because of its habit of resting in the ground during the day and working by night, it is difficult to catch sight of one. The cutworm is around early in the season ready to cut the flower stalks of the hyacinths. When the peas come on a bit later, he is ready for them. A very good way to block him off is to put paper collars, or tin ones, about the plants. These collars should be about an inch away from the plant.
Certainly, plant lice are more common. Those we see are frequently green in colour. But they may be red, brown or yellow. Parasites are easy enough to find since they are always clinging to their host. As sucking insects, they have to cling close to a plant for food, and one is pretty sure to find them. But the biting insects do their work, and then go hide. That makes them much more difficult to deal with.
Rose slugs do great damage to the rose bushes. They eat out the body of the leaves, so that just the veining is left. They are soft-bodied, green above and yellow below.
Striped insect, attacks young melons and squash leaves. It eats the leaf by riddling out holes in it. This beetle, as its name implies, is striped. The back is black with yellow stripes running lengthwise.
Slugs in garden plants
Then there are the slugs, which are garden pests. The slug will eat-greedily almost any garden plant, whether it is a flower or a vegetable. They lay lots of eggs in old rubbish heaps. Do you see the good of cleaning up rubbish? The slugs do more harm in the garden than almost any other single insect pest.
You can discover them in the following way. There is a trick for bringing them to the surface of the ground in the day time. You see they rest during the day below ground. So just water the soil in which the slugs are supposed to be. How are you to know where they are?
They are quite likely to hide near the plants they are feeding on. So water the ground with some nice clean lime water. This will disturb them, and up they’ll poke to see what the matter is.
Beside these most common of pests, pests which attack many kinds of plants, there are special pests for special plants. Beans have pests of their own; so have potatoes and cabbages. In fact, the vegetable garden has many inhabitants. In the flower garden lice are very bothersome, the cutworm and the slug have a good time there, too, and ants often get very numerous as the season advances. But for real discouraging insect troubles the vegetable garden. If we were going into fruit to any extent, perhaps the vegetable garden would have to resign in favor of the fruit garden.
A general pest in the vegetable garden is the tomato worm. This is a large greenish or yellowish striped worm. Its work is to eat into the young fruit.
A great, light green caterpillar is found on celery. This caterpillar may be told by the black bands, one on each ring or each part of its body.
The crush bug may be told by its brown body, which is long and slim, and by the unpleasant odor from it when killed. The potato bug is another fellow to look out for. It is an insect with yellow and black stripes down its crispy back. The little green cabbage worm is a perfect nuisance. It is a small caterpillar and smaller than the tomato worm. These are the most common of garden pests by name.