Managing fall garden pests

Organic Garden Pest Control

While we tend to think of springtime as the busiest season for pesky bug activity, the fall brings its own set of garden-damaging creatures. That’s because many insects are seeking new homes for the colder months, so they are actively moving around your garden in the few months leading up to them. So, what are these autumn annoyances, and how can we manage them? Keep reading to find out.

Top 5 Pesky Fall Pests

grubs on leaf
boxeld bug

GRUBS: The lawn damage you see in the spring from grubs actually happened in the fall of the previous year, so let’s crack down on these infamous pests now. First, if you see evidence of skunks/raccoons/armadillos digging in your lawn, or groups of birds feeding in your grass, you should check your lawn for grubs. Look for brown patches in the grass, then gently pull on the blades of the brown grass. If it easily pulls up without roots, dig up and lift out a section of lawn to check for grubs. Grub prevention includes dethatching your lawn, watering your lawn deeply but infrequently, over seeding your lawn to keep it thick, and keeping a cleaned-up garden. To organically treat for a grub problem, use beneficial nematodes and closely follow the directions on the package for application.

See Also: INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT: A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO MANAGING GARDEN PESTS

SLUGS & SNAILS: Did you know that these slimy pests lay up to 60% of their eggs in the fall? Then, once the warm spring weather appears, they begin their quest for garden domination. Be on the lookout for the tell-tale slime trail (say that one three times) on garden or plant surfaces, young fall seedlings that disappear without a trace, or eaten-down sections of plant leaves. Handpick them and feed them to your farm critters, set beer traps on the edges of your beds to entice them, or get ducks to feed on them {link to Garden Helpers for Natural Pest Control}. Avoid slug pellets, as most are not organic and will also kill slugs’ and snails’ natural predators.

See Also: USING AMAZING BENEFICIAL BUGS TO MANAGE GARDEN PESTS

yellow jacket
Fall Webworm

YELLOW JACKETS: So here’s a great example of an insect that is both good and bad. Yellow jackets become much more active in the late summer and fall, posing a stinging threat to you and your family. However, they are beneficial in that they prey on soft-bodied pests like caterpillars and aphids. First, be sure you are dealing with yellow jackets and not valuable honeybees or other pollinating bees. Second, to minimize their impact on humans, keep your garden cleaned up (they can be attracted by fallen fruit), and if you must destroy a nest, do so after the sun goes down when they are inside the nest and more inactive. Use a 50-50 mixture of organic peppermint castile liquid soap and water — pour the mixture down into the nest opening, and follow up with a kettle full of boiling water. Always use caution when dealing with these stinging insects, wearing protective gear and using a hose or another extension device to pour contents into the opening.

See Also: TOP 5 GARDEN PESTS (AND HOW TO CONTROL THEM)

FALL WEBWORMS: Fall webworms target nearly all trees except conifers — and if you have elms, willows, oaks, mulberries, linden, apple/fruit trees, or pecan trees, you are especially vulnerable. These caterpillars spin silky webs on tree branch tips, and the webs expand as the caterpillars eat and grow. Heavy infestation can defoliate a young tree or dramatically decrease next year’s pecan crop. Natural controls include removing the nests, encouraging beneficial wasps, or simply letting them be if they are not overtaking your tree. Natural spray controls include Neem and Bt, but use them with caution — even organic sprays can kill many beneficial insects, so please spray with care and always follow the directions on the package.

BOXELDER BUGS: The easily recognizable black-and-red boxelder bug has strength in numbers, often congregating by the hundreds. They suck the juices primarily from the boxelder tree (hence its name), but can also do significant damage to maple and ash trees. They can also migrate inside your house, leaving stains on your curtains or even biting you (rare, but still). Seal any exterior cracks on your home during the summer, and apply Diatomaceous Earth around the foundation of your home, as well as around the base of your trees. If you notice them inside your home, vacuum them up rather than crush them — doing so can leave a nasty orange residue.

Amending your soil is also a great, natural way to combat garden pests. Worm castings, like Gardner & Bloome Organics WORM-GRO Earthworm Castings, are helpful in battling pests due to their beneficial microbes. These microbes help plants grow and fight pests and diseases.

See Also: 7 REASONS TO USE WORM POOP IN YOUR GARDEN


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Managing Fall Garden Pests
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