Unwins Seeds

How to control garden pests

26 August 2014 | Posted in Gardening by The Unwins Family

How to control garden pests

This year has been one of the worst I can remember for slugs and snails! These pests have become mammoth creatures in my garden; and that is just the ones I can see above ground; I’m guessing that the black keel slugs that live beneath the soil are just as prolific!

Other pests such as aphids, thrips and cutworm have been equally prevalent. Caterpillars have had a field day with the young nasturtium leaves; a so far unidentified pest has reduced my raspberry leaves to skeletons and vine weevils have chewed notches out of the heucheras too.

In common with many gardeners, controlling these pests has become my number one priority!

Plan of Action - Control

Take advantage of the warm soil and wet weather to water in nematodes. With all the rain we’ve had lately this is the ideal time to apply nematodes to garden soil, and to compost in containers. There are nematodes available to target a wide range of garden pests.  They work by releasing microscopic organisms into the soil that devour the pests above and below ground.

Water nematodes into warm, moist soil and keep the soil moist for several weeks after application.

Every packet comes with complete instructions and packets can be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to apply them.

Protect vulnerable plants with fleece or netting. Protect brassicas and any newly planted leafy crops with fleece or netting to keep caterpillars at bay. When you are using netting make sure it is a fine gauge, securely pegged down and held ABOVE the foliage. A determined moth or butterfly will lay her eggs through the netting if it is touching the leaves.

Use fleece to keep frost off vulnerable plants as well as protect them from pests. If ground is bare for a while you can use a cloche or layer of fleece to keep it warm and weed free prior to planting or sowing.

Encourage valuable wildlife. Birds are valuable allies when it comes to controlling pests, they clear pests such as aphids from ornamental plants and roses and they will eat slugs, snails and caterpillars, and ant eggs too.

Encourage the bird population in your garden by planting trees and hedges and protecting their nesting sites but remember to net fruit too, because once the birds have tried a few juicy cherries or blackcurrants it will be hard to stop them coming back for more!

Check the soil in containers for vine weevil larvae; these are cream coloured C-shaped grubs with brown heads and they are one of the main pests of containers. Vine weevil grubs chew through the roots of many plants but ivies, heucheras, primulas and polyanthus are among their favourites.

Vine weevil beetles can’t fly but they are expert climbers, so plants in hanging baskets are not immune.  Regular notches chewed around the edges of the leaves are tell tale signs of vine weevil damage.

Control vine weevils with Vine Weevil Control water the nematodes into warm, moist soil. Follow the directions on the packet. Unopened packets should be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to apply the nematodes.

Because vine weevil eggs, larvae and adult beetles may all be present in the soil simultaneously, be very wary when emptying spent container compost onto bare soil in other parts of the garden. Check carefully for the distinctive grubs to avoid contaminating beds and borders.

In beds and borders. Slugs and snails can wreak havoc with herbaceous perennials, chewing through stems and disfiguring leaves and flowers. Use nematodes such as Nemaslug to control slugs and snails in the border. Scatter Eraza slug pellets or try Grazers slug and snail spray.

If you spray your ornamental plants against bugs always read the label carefully. Pesticides such as PY spray Garden Insect killer containing natural fatty acids are the most eco-friendly. When spraying any pesticides take normal precautions i.e.  Don’t spray in bright sunshine or when bees are active, and keep spray to a minimum. Be careful not to spray any pesticides around ponds and water features that contain fish.

Lawn pests. Two pests that infest lawns from August onwards are chafer grubs and Leather Jackets. Chafer grubs are the larvae of Chafer Beetles, and Leather Jackets are crane fly (Daddy Long legs) larvae; both will cause damage to grass. The grubs hatch and eat the roots and the resulting damage is made worse by birds and mammals that dig up the grass in search of the tasty larvae.  Nemasys Leather jacket Killer and Nemasys Chafer Grub Killer will control these pests. Water nematodes in to moist soil. Every pack comes with full instructions and can be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

Compared to many garden pests, ants aren’t such a serious pest, but they can disturb the soil around plant roots in beds and borders and they are often a nuisance in lawns or when they invade containers. Nemasys NO ANTS ant control attacks the nests, killing the ant larvae and effectively removing the nest.

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