How to combat pesky garden pests

You’ve put lots of time and effort into getting your garden looking beautiful. Your flowers are blooming and your vegetables are coming along nicely. But then you notice some uninvited visitors slowly devouring the fruits of your labour.

What should you do?

1. What are you up against?

First and foremost, you need to know what you’re dealing with. The easiest way to tell is by looking at your plants and seeing what’s eating them. Catching a bug in the act is obviously ideal, but if you can’t, look at the damage being inflicted.

Deep bite marks or tears along the edge of your leaves indicate it’s a pest that chews like caterpillars and slugs. Wilting and discolouration suggests nutrient-sapping critters like aphids.

2. Assess the extent of the problem

So now you know what you’re dealing with, it’s time to assess the extent of the problem. That’s because you might not actually need to do anything. For example, one little caterpillar nibbling on your vegetables shouldn’t be cause to bust out the pesticides and go crazy. You can simply remove it (or them) and monitor the situation.

3. Take action

If your garden pest problem is more severe than just the odd caterpillar, you need to decide what course of action to take.

Here are the four main options you’ve got:

  • Pesticides – Many people don’t like using pesticides (for obvious reasons), but they are nevertheless an effective and relatively cheap way to deal with large-scale pest problems in your garden.
  • Non-chemical pesticides – Although they are still pesticides, the non-chemical aspect make them slightly better for you and your garden. They work via direct contact though, so be prepared to hunt those bugs down.
  • Physical removal – If your problem isn’t too extensive, you can simply remove any unwanted pests you find. Pick them off your plants when you see them or remove the affected parts of the plant.
  • Encourage predators – Many pest problems can be eliminated (or significantly reduced) by increasing the number of natural predators in your garden. Ladybirds, praying mantis, hoverflies and lacewings all love eating aphids, and you can encourage them by planting things like mint, fennel, dill, yarrow, sunflowers and dandelion.

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