Pests are a common nuisance when gardening, but damage from pests can destroy months of hard work. Pest prevention is the goal, but it is not always possible. Learning quick and efficient ways to deal with pests makes gardening simpler and much more fun. Do you have a pest problem in your garden? Don’t wait! Give one of these simple pest control tips a try.
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Garden Hacks: 9 Simple Pest Control Tips
Pest Control Hack #1: What to do about pill bugs and slugs in the strawberry patch
Rollie-pollies, pill bugs, potato bugs (or whatever you call them), and slugs love eating homegrown strawberries almost as much as I do. Although trapping these bugs can be an effective way to control their numbers, that doesn’t always keep the strawberries safe. Getting the fruit up off the ground keeps them away from these hungry bugs. The most effective way I’ve found to do that is to use these strawberry supports.
If strawberries are lifted up onto the strawberry supports, then the bugs don’t eat them. On the other hand, the berries that are on the ground get eaten every time. After a season of growing with these strawberry supports, I won’t go back to growing strawberries without them.
To discover additional strategies for managing pill bugs, read this blog post.
Pest Control Hack #2: How to get rid of rats in the garden
Rats can destroy months of garden growth in minutes. I’ve come out to find all my brassicas chewed to a nub and my melons destroyed. Just the thought of a rat running around my garden makes me a bit queasy. I don’t want rats anywhere near the food we are going to eat.
When I discover we have a rat (or rats), the most effective method I’ve found is trapping them with these rat traps. Here are a few tips to use rat traps effectively:
- Use a large size trap for designed for rats. Mice traps will not be effective at killing rats.
- Use disposable gloves when handling the trap. Using gloves prevents your scent from being on the trap.
- Place traps in all the areas you have seen rat droppings or damage from rats.
- Rats use walls and fences as guides; place rat traps along edges and corners where rats are likely to be. Place the trap at a 90° angle with the bait-side closest to the wall.
- Use rat traps consistently. If a trap catches a rat, continue re-setting the trap until it no longer catches anything.
- Peanut butter is a simple and effective bait for traps.
Garden Hack #3: How to keep birds and bunnies from eating your garden plants and produce
Birds and bunnies are often a big nuisance. They can destroy a large amount of crops in a short time. I’ve found that barrier methods are the most effective way to deal with these pests. Crop coops and chicken wire cloches from Gardener’s Supply are a simple way to create an effective barrier between your crop and the bird or bunny.
The larger coop covers multiple plants at once. Both types are lightweight and easy to remove when I need to harvest. What I’ve liked the best about using the crop coop and chicken wire cloches is how easy they are to move to different parts of the garden as needed.
Pest Control Hack #4: How to get rid of fruit flies in the house
Homegrown citrus and produce are wonderful, but a side effect of bringing garden harvests into the house is often fruit flies. I’ve tried the disposable traps, and they work (but only for a short time), and then you have to throw them away. I was happy to find this garlic fruit fry trap from Gardener’s Supply ceramic one that doesn’t need to be replaced. A bonus feature is that it actually looks great, and you don’t have to hide it.
The garlic fruit fly trap is always working hard and catching fruit flies. Because it’s made of ceramic material, it’s easy to clean in hot soapy water. I keep it refilled with apple cider vinegar.
Pest Control Hack #5: The best way to deal with problem ants
Ants are often pollinators but can be a nuisance indoors or in large numbers in the garden. A simple and effective treatment for problem ants is these Terro ant baits. The baits contain borax which interferes with the ant’s digestive system.
Put the baits where the ants are a problem and wait. Don’t be alarmed if the ant bait is swarmed with ants; that means the bait is doing its job. The foraging ants take the bait back to the nest. The bait then circulates through the colony and kills the ants. This pest control tip is a very effective method for controlling problem ant populations.
Pest Control Hack #6: How to keep fly populations in control
Composting and chickens are great for the garden, but both can attract flies. When the outdoor fly population soars, these disposable fly traps are a great solution. Simply cut open, add water to activate, and then hang up outside at least 20 feet away from any living spaces (the smell can be strong!) Flies are attracted to the smell; they fly inside and can’t get out. Once the trap is full of flies or the liquid is gone, close the lid and dispose.
These disposable fly traps are very simple and effective pest control tip. For best results, keep replacing the trap until the fly problem is under control.
Pest Control Hack #7: Identify beneficial insects immediately
So here’s the thing … I recognize many beneficial and harmful pests in the garden, but I certainly don’t know all of them! When you garden organically, you are bound to see many, many different types of bugs and insects. How do you know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? The “Seek” app (by iNaturalist) makes identifying bugs and insects easy. Simply open the app and take a picture.
I’ve been happily surprised to discover beneficial insects I’ve never even heard of in my garden recently (cockroach egg parasitoid wasp, I’m looking at you!) I am so glad I took out my phone, used the Seek app, and discovered this beneficial insect rather than stomping it with my shoe. I left her alone; hopefully, she is helping to keep down the roach population in my garden right now.
Pest Control Tip #8: How to keep birds from eating young seedlings
Birds can cause damage to young seedlings by pulling them out and wreaking havoc in your garden beds. Putting a layer of tulle over the newly-planted seeds helps prevent damage from birds. If you use garden watering grids, simply place the tulle on top of the soil and underneath the grids. I also use my plant markers to hold the tulle in place.
Once the seedlings are several inches high, remove the tulle, fold it up, and store it until it is needed again. (If birds are an issue for larger plants, see tip #3 above.)
Pest Control Hack #9: Prevent small pest problems from becoming larger
Pruning shears are an effective way to control pests. If a leaf is infested with pests, remove it and discard it (not in the compost). Trimming off an infested leaf or two keeps the problem from spreading to additional leaves. Early detection is important, so spend time in your garden each day. Check the undersides of leaves and other pest-prone areas. If a plant is severely infected, you may want to remove the entire plant so it doesn’t spread to other plants.
For more help identifying and dealing with different types of pests, see this post, “Organic Pest Control That Really Works“.
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