Having a well kept yard and garden is a satisfying feeling but when insects start taking over and eating away at your hard, beautiful work, it can get frustrating. Identifying what kinds of bugs are doing this to your yard can be even more frustrating. Save your yard and garden by understanding the facts and habits of five bugs that could be the root of your yard or garden pest problem:
Slugs & Snails
We’ve all seen them. Slugs and snails are the slimy bugs typically found in dark, damp places in your yard. They love to feed on all types of leaves, flowers and fruit, creating irregular shaped holes with smooth edges. One way to know that slugs or snails are the main problem in your garden is to look for a silvery trail around the crime scene. There are a few different options to get rid of slugs and snails including pesticides, but the most effective way that will protect your garden as well as any pets you may have is doing it the old fashioned way: handpicking them. The best time to inspect for slugs and snails is a couple hours after sunset, especially if you have recently watered your garden or it has been raining. Get a bucket of soapy water so that they can’t escape and let the hunt begin.
Box Elder Bugs
Box elder bugs are known to become a big problem very fast due to the fact that they reproduce so rapidly. These black and red striped, oval shaped bugs with wings can be very destructive to your yard. They are known to feed on the seeds of box elder, maple, and ash trees that will slowly fade over time if not controlled. Box elder bugs are also known to feed on fruit trees such as cherry, peach, pear and plum trees, leading to “cat-facing” or dimples, scaring, and fruit deformation. Since box elder bugs are typically present in huge numbers, it is usually best to seek professional help in order to fully eliminate the problem and keep them from entering and becoming a nuisance in your home.
There are many types of sawflies, but all can be destructive to your yard. They are in the wasp family and the adults can resemble a wasp or fly but without a constricted waist. The larvae are the ones you need to watch out for because they can be quite damaging to your yard. There are two main types of sawfly larvae. One type resembles caterpillars and has three pairs of large legs and seven pairs of smaller legs. They are typically found feeding on the edges of leaves in groups. The other sawfly larvae look similar to slugs with slimy bodies and the group feeds on the surface of the leaf and doesn’t chew through the entire leaf which typically leaves behind leaf veins. Getting rid of sawflies can be difficult so using an insecticide is necessary. Spinosad is a natural insecticide that usually gets the job done.
Just because caterpillars may turn into big, beautiful butterflies doesn’t mean you should let them destroy your garden. There are several different species of caterpillars but they can all be identified with a cylindrical body. Their common habits in the garden include rolling leaves together with silk in order to create shelters, feeding on leaves, and devouring entire leaves and stems, which can lead to killing an entire plant. The best way to get rid of these eating machines is to go through your garden and yard and get rid of any old leaves and stems as well as any leaves that have been eaten at or are discolored. During the winter, look for eggs on trunks and branches and scrape off any discovered.
The best way to keep your yard and garden safe from destructive pests is maintenance. Cultivate your soil every year, water and feed your plants regularly, as well as weed and remove any parts of plants that have apparent damage from bugs. If the problem persists, contact a pest control professional.