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;
In Australia, a common insect found in your garden is the Christmas Beetle. While the larvae live in the soil and eats your garden grass roots, the adults are known to eat leaves and mainly feed on eucalypt specimens. You will mainly find them from November till February. They are identified by their shiny body and their colour varies from reddish-brown to yellowish-brown.
The only way to control them is by carefully monitoring your garden plants for any signs of bitten/eaten leaves. When spotted, either use a fly net or a jet spray to knock them off and you can smash it using 2 wooden blocks. It is difficult to control these kinds of insects as they are very quick at defoliating plants, however, the sooner you take action upon finding them, the easier it will be to remove them.
Fruit flies are known to infect various fruits and vegetables which is why they pose a threat to horticulture. The female adults lay their eggs beneath the fruit’s skin. Their larvae are called maggots and they begin to feed on the fruit from the inside once they have hatched so that it might rot and fall off. They are active from September to May.
You can identify a fruit fly infestation if you notice many flying around your fruits and vegetables, if you notice any punctured wounds on them or if you notice off-white looking maggots. The only way to control them is by;
• Gathering the damaged fruits and vegetables, storing them in a sealed plastic bag and keeping them under direct sunlight.
• You could also boil the infected vegetation and feed your poultry.
• Use baits that are protein-based to catch both female and male flies.
• Use pheromone traps to kill the males before they begin mating.
In Australia, weevils are considered as a nuisance due to the damage they are known to cause to crops and grains. Although there are various types of species, there is one common trait that they all possess; an extended snout. Weevils are known to start causing damage right from the larval stage by feeding on plant roots in the soil and when they mature into adults they feed on the plant leaves. You can identify a weevil infestation if you notice chewed roots, low plant vigor, holes in the shape of scallops along the margin of the leaf or an adult crawling on your backyard plants.
The only way to control a weevil infestation organically is by:
- When possible rotate your garden crops.
- Introduce birds like ducks, chickens and guinea fowl to your garden.
- Water your plants only when it is required, to avoid making your soil extra moist, since it attracts weevils.
- Keep a deep pan of water in your garden so that the weevils climb into it and drown.
- Place horticultural glue, aluminium foil or greasy sacks under the trees that are susceptible, to catch weevils.
- Drown the caught weevils in soapy water to kill them.
- Eliminate the weeds and debris from your garden to keep weevils and other insects at bay.
- During the seedling stage, place protective covers over the vegetable rows.
Thanks for reading
These are some of the most common pests you can find in you garden and the easy ways to take care of them.