22 Jul 2012

How to Keep Pests Away from Your Plants

Posted by bcsands

Keeping pests away from your plants may seem easy and obvious. Just squirt it with some chemical, right? Wrong! Pests come in all shapes and sizes… some are not obviously pests, some are not visible and some that seem like pests are not pests at all!

So how do you tell which ones are good and which ones are out to destroy? Well, first you have to decide what a pest is and that means categorising all the wildlife that lives in or visits your garden:

Birds – while you may welcome most birds, some are considered pests.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are one such species, because they can literally eat you out of house and home. In some areas all native bird species are protected, so you need to use “shoo” tactics to keep them away. You need to vary your approach to seeing off these resourceful birds, so you can install bird spikes in obvious places, but you may also need to use scare tactics like using fake owls, rubber snakes, holographic flash tape to irritate them, and of course netting over vulnerable fruit trees.

Introduced species such as the Indian Myna have reached near plague proportions and can be minimised by ensuring a lack of food and nesting space. This can be achieved by planting native trees and bushes, feeding your pets indoors and blocking off roof eaves so that they cannot get in to breed.

Animals – these are likely to be possums, rabbits, cats, rats, mice and other introduced species that eat everything green, crush your vegies or eat your wild birds. It’s best to consult an expert because each different species needs to be dealt with in a different way.

Insects – Keeping the bad ones away and the good insects around is a bit of an art-form. There is such a wide variety of adverse critters that can affect your all your plants and trees, but a “kill ‘em all” approach will not do your plants any favours.

To rid your plants of pests such as the ever present aphids, thrips, scale, whitefily and mealy bugs that feed on the sap of your plants, you need to apply a systemic insecticide. This type of insecticide is taken up by the plant and distributed via the sap. It is therefore only lethal to the insects that feed off the plant’s sap.

Leaf destroying lace bugs, caterpillars, flies, ants, cabbage moths and earwigs which can be effectively treated with a pyrethrum based insecticide.

Ants are best attacked where their nests are, and one of the better methods is via an ant powder that they like the taste of. They will take the powder as food back to their nest and then it will work to destroy the nest and all its inhabitants.

Slugs and Snails – the best way to keep these plant munchers under control is to use a multi-action strategy. If you don’t have dogs or children you can distribute snail pellets to kill them, but that won’t solve the whole problem because you will always miss some. You can go out early in the morning and collect up all the snails and slugs you can find and squash them as this is the kindest method of disposal. You need to be particularly vigilant after rain when it is much easier for them to move around.

Keeping pests away from your plants takes commitment and effort, but a healthy, growing garden is the end result and that’s what you are doing it for.



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