Despite their diminutive size, pests in the garden are weighty opponents capable of mass destruction. Do not to underestimate their ability to defoliate, skeletonize and destroy many of your garden favorites as they indulge their voracious appetites. Know the best way to target these small offenders.
Closely observe your plants to identify the pests involved. Slimy trails and chewed areas on the leaves indicate snail damage. Aphids, though tiny, sit in large, invasive groups. Eggs represent caterpillars in waiting. Scrutinize for more than one culprit. Aphids produce honeydew, which attracts ants. Proper treatment requires a thorough and accurate diagnosis.
Take into account the level of infestation, the age and health of the plants and your willingness as the caretaker to tolerate some plant loss factor when deciding a treatment plan. You can overlook a few chew holes on otherwise healthy and well-established plants. Hoards of offenders feeding on delicate seedlings call for immediate action. Because certain plants will have more meaning to you, your goals and intentions for your garden will determine how you want to proceed.
Row covers, screens, hand-picking and traps, such as rolled newspaper for earwigs, provide simple, non-toxic solutions for minor pest problems. A sharp blast of water dislodges aphids and other pests. For more troublesome threats, try insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils, which are effective against small, soft-bodied insects and relatively safe to use. Use pesticides as a last resort. Target the correct insect while minimizing danger to yourself, the environment and the plant itself.
Insecticidal soap, horticultural oils or pesticides may adversely affect certain plants. Non-synthetic or "natural" products are not a guarantee of a lack of harm posed to yourself or the environment. This is especially true when it comes to pesticides. Rotenone and nicotine sulfate, for example, may harm wildlife and humans. Read the label thoroughly before using any product.
A well-tended garden allows for observation, a necessity for keeping pests at bay. Provide consistent upkeep of your garden to prevent major pest problems. Nutrient-rich soil, proper irrigation and a clean environment will dissuade the most aggressive of pests while attracting necessary beneficial insects. Remove dead plant material and rotting vegetation. Prune dead leaves and branches. Till the soil to disrupt pest and their eggs.