Don’t let garden insects destroy the fruits of your labor

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, April 15, 2012

(ARA) – Gardeners are familiar with the joy of planting and nurturing flowers, fruits and vegetables to maturity and the bliss of harvesting nature’s bounty. One of the few things that can make that bliss turn into annoyance is an infestation of bugs. While many insects are beneficial to the garden, others can be very destructive. Arm yourself with the facts for handling insects in your garden this growing season.

Beneficial pollinator bugs like bees may be welcomed guests, but their destructive cousins can have devastating effects on even the healthiest garden. There is nothing worse than having a cucumber vine wither just before harvesting the first crop, or picking a breath-taking rose just to find it covered with aphids.

Aphids, mealy bugs, mites, thrips, slugs, snails and cutworms are some of the most problematic garden insects across the country. Keep these and other pesky insects from “bugging” you and destroying your garden this summer.

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Know the enemy:

Having the ability to identify problem insects in the garden is a big step toward overcoming them. Proper bug identification is key to protecting your plants and veggies. Also check your plants for symptoms to help identify the visitors to your garden. Is something eating seedlings at night? Maybe you have cutworms. Are plants’ leaves looking like lace? Sounds like Japanese beetles. Look around and see what is there. Finding an effective treatment is easy once you know what you are actually dealing with.

Plant wisely:

Sometimes the simplest bug prevention is using a few smart tips when planting or caring for a garden. Remember to clean up all plant debris at the end of the growing season to discourage insects from wintering over in the veggie patch.

Another easy tip is to consider planting flowers among fruits and vegetables. Flowers look great and will attract beneficial bugs that pollinate, like bees, but will also attract bugs that will eat pests, like ladybugs.

Rotating crops can also prevent recurring insect problems. This will discourage last year’s insects that may have wintered over from sticking around because the crop they found so delicious is no longer present.

Seek advice:

Do not be afraid to ask for help. Local gardeners and extension agents make great resources. Ask around and see what others have used that worked.

Your grandma may have used cans to keep cutworms from eating the seedlings in her garden. Simply cut both ends off of some cans and place them around seedlings when transplanting to create a protective barrier from cutworms, slugs and snails while plants are getting established.

If your neighbor has had success using row-covers placed on crops that are targeted by certain local pests, then that may also work for you. Just be sure to leave the covers off for part of the day to allow for pollination.

For more information and to find solutions quickly, download the Ortho Problem Solver App from the iTunes store.

Fight back:

When nothing else seems to be working, take serious action by finding the appropriate pest control for your garden and your situation. Home remedies, organic solutions or more conventional means of insect controls in the flower or vegetable garden are all options available.

Ortho Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer kills over 100 garden insects without harming plants or blooms. For your organic garden, try Ortho Elementals Insecticidal Soap to kill some of the most bothersome bugs, like aphids, leafhoppers, mealy bugs, mites and thrips – along with a long list of other bugs. For snails and slugs invading an organic garden, try Ortho Elementals Slug & Snail Killer, or Ortho Bug-Geta Snail & Slug Killer 1. Both options are effective on a wide variety of snails and slugs.

Now that you are armed with all the right information, get out there and defend your garden, lawn and home from invasive insects.