Protect Your Garden from Pests This Spring

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Nip Garden Pests in the Bud

 

Birds are chirping, the sap is flowing, and South Carolina is set to bloom! It's time to put some spring in your garden! As you plant your seeds this month, be sure to plan accordingly to make certain unwanted pests don't come along and make an April Fool out of you.

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We don't know about you, but one big thing that helps us get through the dreary days of winter is daydreaming about which delicious fruits and veggies we'll get to grow in the spring. Now that Mother Nature has brought Earth back to life, we're thrilled to share some tips for how to keep unwelcome pests out of your garden so it can thrive!

Common South Carolina Garden Pests and the Plants They Love

First things first: you can't prevent pests without knowing which ones you should be looking out for. While some pests, like worms, spiders, butterflies, and bees, are signs of a healthy garden, others can wreak havoc on all of your hard work. In order for your homegrown veggies to keep your family's plate full all season long, you'll have to make sure these South Carolina garden pests don't chow down on them first. 

Squash Bugs

Squash bugs work as a colony to pierce vines with their mouths, injecting a toxic substance into plants as they feed, sucking all of the moisture out of the vines and turning them black. Once they're done with the vines, they move to the leaves, causing yellow spots that turn brown and wilt. 

Small plants and individual vine runners are typically destroyed by their feeding, with heavy infestations preventing fruit from forming. The bugs will move past the vine if the fruit can still grow to feed on the unripe fruit.

  • Preferred Plants: Though they do love a good squash, these pests don't discriminate against cucurbit vine crops and can quickly take out all of your pumpkin, cucumber, and melons. They prefer seedlings and flowering plants, so keep an eye on your young plants.

  • Where to Look: Take a peek beneath the leaves and around the base of your plants to spot these sneaky bugs.

  • Pest Description:
    • Adult - Dark brown with light gray markings on its flat back and yellow on its underside; measures about 16mm long.
    • Egg - Deposited as a white diamond shape, but gradually transforms yellowish-brown before turning dark bronze; measures about 1.5 mm long and 1 mm wide. Typically found on foliage in a checker pattern of 20-40 eggs.
    • Nymph - Five instars: one green with red legs, head, and antennae; remaining are gray-white with dark heads, legs, and antennae; two have visible wing pads.
  • Avoiding Squash Bug Infestation:
    • Proper fertilization and watering
    • Monitor plants for nymphs, as they are much easier to get rid of than adults.
    • Kill nymphs and adults by picking them off your plants and putting them in soapy water.
    • Crush eggs found under leaves.
    • Create a trap by leaving pieces of cardboard or newspaper near your plants overnight. Collect the traps in the morning and throw them away.

Striped Flea Beetles

Striped feal beetles are most damaging in the spring when they emerge from their winter homes among debris in and around fields to feed on seedlings and young plants. While larvae feed on roots, adults cause the most damage by making small holes in leaves and stems.

    • Preferred Plants: Cruciferous vegetables, mustard, turnip, radish, and related weeds. Likely to attack seedlings and young plants in early spring.
    • Where to Look: Check your plants' leaves for shallow pits and small irregular holes, a type of damage unique to flea beetles.
    • Pest Description:
      • Adult - Black beetle with a wavy yellow line on each wing; measures 1.5-2.5 mm long
      • Egg - White and oval
      • Larva - White with a brown head with three pairs of legs near its head; measures 3.2 to 5.00 mm long
      • Pupa - White; measures 1.5-2.5mm long
    • Avoiding Striped Flea Beetle Infestation:
      • Proactively check your plants for damage
      • Place yellow sticky traps in your garden
      • Treat seedlings if you see more than five flea beetles per plant
     

    Aphids

    Despite being one of the most common garden pests, thanks to easy prevention methods, aphids often cause little to no harm to gardens unless they carry a virus. Aphids can carry various plant viruses, such as cucumber mosaic virus, which can infect everything from squash, cucumber, and tomato to lettuce, beets, and flowers! If you notice that your plant's leaves are twisted and yellowed, or your plant's growth seems stunted, you may have a problem.

    • Preferred Plants: Tomatoes, asparagus, beans, peas, melon, green peach, potato, corn, cabbage, broccoli, turnips, arugula, and more
    • Where to Look: Check out the leaves, stems, and flowers of your favorite plants to find these tiny feeders.
    • Pest Description:
      • Pear-shaped and a range of colors including green, black, red, brown, yellow, or gray; measure 2-4 mm. The easiest way to identify an aphid is by checking for two cornicles found at the end of the abdomen.
    • Avoiding Aphid Infestation:
      • Check your garden frequently to prevent a rapid population explosion.
      • Remove weeds from your garden.
      • Knock them off your plants with a high-pressure spray of water from the hose
      • Use a low-risk pesticide for extreme cases

     

    Other Damaging Pests:

    • Cutworms 
    • Tomato Worms 
    • Leaf Miners
    • Mealybugs
    • Cabbage Maggots
    • Stink Bugs
    • Tarnished Plant Bug

     

    Tips for Planting to Avoid Pest Infestation

    A little planning can go a long way in protecting your garden from pests. These tips will help keep your garden gorgeous year-round without having to rely on harmful chemicals.

    Start with a Healthy Foundation 

    Take the time to determine each plants' nutrient requirements before planting. Incorporating the best soil, compost, and natural organic fertilizers will not only help your garden flourish but keep your plants pest-resistant, too!

    Plant A Messy Garden

    Straight rows of a single plant may be pretty but look like the Golden Corral buffet to pests. Planting an array of flowers, vegetables, and herbs in the same bed attracts beneficial insects that keep the bad bugs at bay. This isn't saying you need to have tomato plants scattered across your yard; keeping similar crops a few feet apart will suffice.

    • Perfect Plant Pairings:
    • Basil & Tomato
    • Garlic, Lettuce, Potatoes & Cabbage
    • Nasturtiums & Brassicas (Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc.)
    • Sunflowers & Cucumbers or Pole Beans
    • Melons, Squash & Flowering Herbs (Parsley, Dill, Fennel)
    • Calendula + Broccoli
    • See More from the Farmers’ Almanac

    Bring in the Good Bugs

    Be strategic about growing plants that attract beneficial insects such as Marigolds, Zinnias, Beebalm, and herbs like Dill, Lavender, Lemon balm, Cilantro, Thyme, and Parsley.

    Clean it Up

    Be vigilant about removing weeds and debris like fallen leaves and fruits that often harbor fugitive pests.

    Rotate Your Crops

    Planting the same crops in the same spot every year isn't only boring; it's bad for your garden! Rotating your crops will help prevent infestation and disease.

     

    Signs of Pest Infestation in Your Garden

    • Holes in Leaves
    • Discoloration
    • Curling Leaves
    • Droopy Stems and Leaves
    • Leaves Falling Off Stems
    • Sticky Webbing
    • Severed Seedlings
    • Slime on Leaves and Stems

    Once garden pests get out of control, it may be time to call in the professionals. Home Pest Control’s Home Shield Pest Prevention Program is designed to use minimal chemicals to take care of pest infestations once and for all. 

    Contact us today to have your yard treated before your spring garden goes in! 

    Schedule a pest control service now!

     

    February 25, 2022


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