American gardeners face frustrating problems with their edible or ornamental gardens. These problems are caused by many different pests. Here are MasterGardening.com’s Top 10 garden pests and control tips:
1. Deer. These peaceful animals were tabbed as causing the most widespread damage in a USDA national survey. Clean up all unharvested fruits and vegetables. If you still see signs of deer damage -- torn leaves or bark scraped off trees -- you can try deer repellants, scaring devices or fencing.
2. Snails and slugs. Mollusks can do extensive damage and are hard to eradicate. Use Fertilizer salts, not table salt which can harm plants, to dehydrate slugs. Sprinkle in a protective border around the plant. Keep mollusks away by removing debris from shaded areas.
3. Aphids. They show up on new shoots, and the undersides of leaves. Aphids suck the sap out of the plant, producing curled leaves, and spots. Spraying the plants with insecticidal soap will remove aphids.
4. Moles. Moles dig underground tunnels, damaging lawns and root systems. Sometimes gardeners deal with moles, knowing they eat insect larvae and move on. There are electronic devices and repellents aimed at controlling moles.
5. Japanese beetles. These distinctive beetles attack plants from the time they’re larvae in the ground, feeding on roots, until they’re adults ripping foliage from plants in the summer. Pyrethrum is a good defense for beetles, who love turf and everything in the garden.
6. Caterpillars. These small critters can do major damage to plants. Cutworms can chop off plant seedlings. The tomato hornworm plagues home gardeners. The Hornworm is hard to locate because of its leafy green color. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is the best biological control for caterpillars.
7. Rabbits. They love leafy green vegetables but also eat ornamentals. Make your garden less attractive to critters by cleaning up wood piles and overgrown shrubs. Try a protective repellent around the perimeter of your garden. Chicken wire fencing may keep them out, but rabbits can get around chain-link fences.
8. Lawn grubs. Grubs feed on all types of grass roots and damage lawns. The grass eventually feels loose and can roll up. Moles digging in the turf or flocks of birds feeding on the grass are possible signs of white grubs. Milky Spore is a great solution to control the grubs plaguing your turf.
9. Ants. They’re mostly a nuisance, but some ants can damage plants. Imported fire ants feed on plant seeds and other insects, which can offset the balance in your garden. Ants also protect aphids on ornamentals, helping them destroy plants. Direct mound applications of granules work best to control these pests.
10. The Gardener. Control of nearly every pest begins with the care -- or neglect -- of the gardener. It starts with selecting plants appropriate for the climate and local pests. Regular and appropriate watering keeps plants healthy, helping prevent disease and pests. Pay attention to what’s happening in the garden, then research and purchase the best products to fight off pests.