What are the top pests to watch for in the spring?
As spring approaches, the bugs do as well! But don't be alarmed, we are here to help walk you through the spring and summer pests.
Slugs can majorly damage your plants overnight, eating small plants down to nothing. You can tell a slug was thereby all of the holes being in your leafy greens that almost look like tears along with some slimy trails left behind. During the day those slugs are good at hiding. The best way to protect your plants from slugs is to sprinkle Sluggo on the surface of your soil or to place it in between the felt pot and plastic hex pot if you are working on the farm wall. Remember you only need a few little granules to make sure this product is working. It also helps to sprinkle Sluggo around your pots to keep slugs away from the general area while keeping your plants off the direct ground. Try to find the slugs and If you spot the slug, remove and relocate it.
Earwigs do not necessarily need to be treated. They actually can bring benefits to the garden, that is if there isn't a huge infestation. If you just run across a few earwigs tucked in your plants here and there, leave them be. They are nocturnal so they actually use our leafy greens as a resting ground during the day to then eat the aphids, slugs, other pests as well as decaying plant matter at night! If the infestation becomes larger, they will start feeding on our veggies foliage so that's when Sluggo comes in handy. Avoid putting plants directly on the ground to avoid pests.
Caterpillars start out as very tiny are hard to spot but they grow to be big bugs fast. They eat twice their body weight in a day. If you see little holes punched on your plants, these holes will be a bit smaller than the damage done by slugs. You can still eat the plants that have caterpillar damage, you're just eating greens with some holes in them. The best way to eradicate these caterpillars is to remove and relocate or cut them in half to end that life cycle. If you have an infestation, in that case, use Organic Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew or a spray that contains BT(bacillus thuringiensis), a brand we recommend would be Organic Monterey BT.
Aphids start reproducing at a much faster rate in the spring. They are really small little tiny spider-looking bugs that come in a wide range of colors depending on what type of plant they are eating. Typically they are green bugs that are sucking the precious juices from our plants. Look for them in the new incoming growth. They seem to love the backs of the leaves. Take care of these pests by getting soapy water or your organic pesticide on your thumb and slowly wipe away those critters. Then go in with your spray, if you have a small infestation use Organic Safer Soap and if the infestation is larger or the pests just don't seem to want to go away, use Organic Neem Oil.
Leaf miners are little flies that lay their eggs on the backside of the leaves. The eggs then hatch to become larvae that live between the cell walls of our plants. Inside those cell walls, they are eating away until they become large enough and strong enough to make their way out to form into a fly that will then lay more eggs continuing the life cycle. Since they live in the cell walls of the plants most sprays will not come into contact with these pests to kill them. Start with trying to find the bug in the leaf and give a squish, or remove that whole leaf if the infestation is bad. Put it in your yard waste to make sure the life cycle does not continue on. Then if the infestation continues or is too large use Organic Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew.
Thrips are a menace in the garden. If you look at your plants and see small black dots scattered around the leaves, you have thrips. They are sometimes extremely hard to see with the naked eye and sadly can cause extensive damage. Always be on the lookout for tiny little black spots scattered on your foliage. The bugs are smaller and have long bodies. They will lay eggs in the soil and reproduce very fast like an aphid. To rid yourself of thrips use insecticidal soap. We recommend Safer Soap, give it a very thorough spray and leave the plant in the shade until the product has dried.
If a thrip infestation grows larger, use neem oil. This is derived from the seed of a neem tree and is a much stronger product. We only recommend using neem oil if the issue has gotten to be larger. We recommend only using this about 10 times at the most through the spring and summer season. One last thing to consider purchasing is beneficial nematodes from your local nursery or online, which will cut down the number of pests in your garden tremendously. These beneficial microscopic organisms actually feed on the eggs and larvae of all kinds of different bugs in the soil while leaving beneficial insects and microbes alone Most if not all bugs lay eggs in the soil. That is where the start of all infections stems from, and the spring season is the time to apply beneficial nematodes. This can be one of the most effective ways of cutting down the number of pests you have without having to use sprays.
NOTES ABOUT SPRAYS
All of the sprays we have recommended throughout the article are organic and actually do not harm beneficial bacteria and bugs if you do not use them too often. Some are just some simple sprays made up of fancy agriculture grade soaps, while others like spinosad are derived from natural soil bacterias from all around the world. Neem oil is acquired by the seed of the flowers from the neem tree! Isn't that amazing! These sprays are to be used with caution though. All of the sprays should be used in the evening when bees are not present. The wet product actually will kill the precious bees so either spray in the evening after sundown or spray and cover with cloth of some sort until the product dries. The last thing to consider is its effect on fish and marine life, it sadly can kill fish. it's so very important not to get the sprays in your water runoff, if you get some on your hands rinse your hands off over grass or bushes before going inside to wash your hands to prevent any of this from affecting our wildlife.