Maintaining a healthy garden is a difficult task. It requires dedication to deal with ever-changing weather conditions, cutting, potting, planting, watering, and more. All of this and not even mentioning keeping pests at bay. Which can be a lot harder than it might seem.
Australia is home to one of the most diverse pest populations in the world. Anything from tiny aphids to giant grubs can completely obliterate your garden. Even pest control companies sometimes struggle. You need to be prepared and you need to act swiftly, with an iron fist in order to prevent it. Here are some of the most common garden pests in Australia and how to deal with them.
Aphids are small pear-shaped insects that breed quickly and love turning your garden into an open buffet. Their asexual reproduction allows them to multiply at alarming rates and once they gain some momentum, it takes a Herculean effort to get rid of them. Aphids vary in color depending on the species but their bodies are always pear-shaped and they always sport a pair of big antennae.
You will know you have an aphid infestation. Their activity cannot go unnoticed since they cause unnatural leaf fall, stunted growth, curling, browning, or yellowing of the leaves. Aphids produce honeydew, which can also attract different ant species for a full on pest party.
The way to deal with an aphid infestation in your plant is to either:
- Remove them physically (a strong jetstream of cold water will do the trick, but you need to be careful not to destroy your plants);
- Attract beneficial insects - ladybugs are natural predators to aphids;
- Use horticultural oil - 2 cups of vegetable oil mixed with ½ cup of dishwashing detergent and solved into a liter of water gives you a nice natural spray you can use against aphids. It’s one of the natural remedies you can try but avoid using it in the hot weather as it will burn your plants;
Australian Plague Locusts
With a name like that, you know these guys are bad news. They don’t call them “plague” locusts for nothing - they begin to swarm sometime during the spring and stop when all the crops around them are eaten. Or until they get killed - whichever comes first.
Each year, plague locusts cost hundreds of millions to billions of dollars worth of damages to crops and are one of the most serious problems agriculture has to deal with. So imagine what happens when even a small swarm of these flies through your garden. You can kiss your plants goodbye. What’s left of them, anyway.
The good news is not all hope is lost. You can use Kaolin clay on your plants which will repel many insects, including plague locusts.
Snails and Slugs
Snails and slugs are famous for being slow. What they should be famous for is how quickly, despite being so slow, they can destroy a garden. Do not allow their looks to deceive you - they may move slowly but underneath those cute shells lie a real destructive force of nature.
If you begin finding holes in the leaves of your plants, destroyed seedlings, or suspicious silvery trails on and around your plants, then you probably have a snail problem. You can be doubly sure this is the case if it had rained recently since slugs and snails avoid the sunlight, but always come out after the rain.
You can deter them by using:
- Garlic - like vampires, they really hate garlic and sunlight;
- Spray some coffee on the plants - yes, seriously. As you may know, caffeine is first and foremost a natural pest control agent. It’s extremely effective against these pests.
- Barriers around the plants, which is a good pest preventive method in general;
“Borers” is a term used to describe the larval stage of different species. They are called that because they bury in the trees and eat their way out during the larval stage. This is bad news for trees on account of the fact a large number of borers can lead to a tree’s early demise.
How can you tell if you have borers? Openings in the trunk and holes in the branches are usually a dead giveaway. If that’s not enough, you can look for frass around a hole in the trunk. It is essential to check regularly for any alarming signs, especially if you plan on using backyard trees for tree house projects.
The best way to get rid of this pest is to improve the health of the tree. Taking good care of your trees is a great preventative measure. This include regularly inspecting th If a tree is seriously affected, though - cut your losses immediately.
Whiteflies look like small white moths. They drink sap juice which causes stunted growth to the trees and cause yellowing on the leaves (similar to aphids). Even if you don’t notice any visible symptoms, you will almost definitely notice a white cloud of whiteflies flying around your plants if you’re having problems with this pest.
The best way to deal with them is to act as early as possible:
- Remove problematic leaves as soon as you notice there is a problem;
- Hose them down with water (which will only work if the infestation isn’t too severe);
- Attract ladybugs to your garden;
These are some of the most common pests you can find in you garden and the easy way to take care of them.