Ohh Summer! What a glorious time of year! A great time for friends and family to reunite and celebrate the warm temperatures and a thriving sun. From gardening outdoors to festivals to beach trips to cross country road trips, there are so many ways to frolic and enjoy what might be an ideal backdrop to our human existence. As a gardener or farmer, there are also as many reasons to rejoice in the many harvests that will come about during summer time.
But just as humans are basking in the plentiful harvests and warm sun, so are the Summer Pests, recharged and already staking a claim on all your hard gardening work. Since our plan is to feed the many humans that have already RSVP’d to your summer parties and not the insects, let’s talk about how to rid your garden of these Summer Pests so that you can enjoy your bountiful harvest.
In the following sections we’ll target some of the common pests that will invade your garden (and also your indoor garden) and how to get rid of them.
Pyrethrum is effective against spider mites but must be used in rotation with other control options such as neem oil or a potassium of fatty acid based product. The more things as you can throw into the combo the better.
Rotate pesticide applications every three days for two weeks after last sign of adults to ensure even coverage and clear any unhatched eggs. Be sure to treat the whole room to a vigorous cleaning to help eliminate any dormant eggs or wayward mites.
Spider mites also typically thrive in a dry, hot environment. Keeping room temps down will slow their development, though you still need to act quickly to have a hope of getting ahead of the issue.
Fungus Gnats are more of an annoyance than a true pest in their adult form, but in their early larval period, they can wreak havoc on your plants root systems.
Symptoms can vary making it tricky at times narrowing down your culprit. Fortunately, the adults are easily killed with a combination of light pesticide such as pyrethrum and sticky fly traps.
The larva are trickier to get to being as they reside in the root system. They can be easily managed though with the addition of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) to your watering regiment. The BT is a bacteria that thrives in the soil (or rockwool, coco, water, etc.) and feeds off larva.
Once infected, continue to treat for two-four weeks to clear substrate. Keep in mind, BT is inexpensive and it will not hurt your plants to pre-inoculate them preventively every week or two.
Aphids can be a tough pest to be rid of once they’ve made themselves at home, almost as much as spider mites. Though big enough to see with the naked eye and slow moving, aphids are nothing else if not tough.
Resilient, but not immune to many pesticides, rotating weaker pesticides will go a long way in finding a detrimental combo that works well on your given species of aphid. Aphids are also fairly susceptible to neem oil as it makes moving harder and pollutes their system when ingested.
Since aphid typically tend to group together on plant stocks, consider spraying some pyrethrum onto a soft rag and physically wiping them off by (gloved) hand, squishing as many as possible in the process.
HORN WORMS AND CATERPILLARS
Slow moving and lethargic, these common pests can almost be considered cute, until one sees the state of their garden after these voracious eaters are done making a meal of it. Typical signs of a caterpillar, hornworm or cutworm are large holes bored into the leaf with the distinct unmistakable appearance of a bite mark. These little guys can decimate a garden if left unchecked.
Fortunately there are many organic treatments out there. Neem oil or products containing it’s active ingredient azadacrin will not only bind up the digestive tract of adults that consume it, it will also cause their offspring to grow much smaller and weaker than typical with compromised health from pupation!
Products containing spinosad are also highly effective along with our old friend Bacillus thuringiensis.
While most people wouldn’t really consider ants to be much of a gardening pest, most indoor gardeners won’t be happy to see them inside, plus they can bring aphids into your garden to feed off their excretion as they devour your plants! While there are more products to kill, repel or otherwise control ants than possibly any other insect alive, consider that most of those are designed to have a long, water resistant half life after spraying. Couple that with the toxic makeup of those products and you can see why what you spray around your foundation may not be what you spray around your garden.
Instead, spray what ants you can when you can with something a bit milder. Using food grade diatomaceous earth is also a good option. It’s very effective when used as a barrier and can also be applied along trails as a deterrent.
Ant trails are scent based. Cleaning these trails leading into and around the garden will go a long way towards disrupting their routine and convincing them to move on.
We hope these tips help you and your garden thrive this summer, please feel free to reach out to the gardening experts at Taproot Hydroponics with any questions, comments and share our blog with your friends.