Reduce Garden Pests Naturally

Here are tips from Monrovia that home gardeners can incorporate to reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides and herbicides.

Attract predators that will eat bugs. Ladybugs not only are effective against aphids, but also will devour mealybugs, leafhoppers, scale and thrips. Green lacewings feed on nectar, pollen and aphid honeydew. Their offspring emerge with a huge appetite for aphids, spider mites, thrips, white flies, leafhoppers and mealybugs. Hoverflies (also called syrphid flies) look like tiny bees but are easily distinguished by their huge eyes and single pair of fly-like wings. They will visit and multiply wherever there is an abundance of flowering plants, and their larvae can devour an entire aphid population.  

Sow plants that attract beneficial insects. Yarrow, hyssop, willow, catmint and clump-forming ornamental grasses are good choices for attracting beneficial insects to the garden. And they attract other predators — like birds — that come for the nectar and will gladly dine on your pests as well. The plants provide shade and shelter for lizards and their hearty bug appetites. Night bloomers like yucca, evening primrose and those with intoxicating fragrance like night-blooming jasmine and Japanese honeysuckle will attract bats, which eat all sorts of unwanted bugs. 

Keep your soil healthy. Pesticides kill bugs on the surface (both good and bad ones) and soak into the soil, where they harm earthworms and other beneficial creatures like the soil-dwelling predatory mites that help control thrips, soil pests and fungus gnats. Good compost is one of the best, natural methods to suppress disease. Mycorrhizae, a group of beneficial organisms, added to soil mixes increases soil health and helps root development for more robust plants.

Use mulch. Forget the herbicides; suppress weeds with mulch. Make your own or look for packaged organic mulches and alternatives such as rice hulls or shells from walnuts, pecans and pistachios. Pecan shells are especially effective at eliminating liverworts, a troublesome weed. If you have weeds that sprout up in cracks in your driveway or sidewalk, pour a kettle of boiling water directly on the weed to kill it. 



Categories: Gardening