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Garden Insect Management Buying Guide

Growing and managing your own garden  can be a rewarding hobby.  But whether you're planting veggies or roses , pests will always be lurking around the dirt to destroy your hard work.  Because the conditions that are optimal for planting are also optimal for the survival of many of the insects  that threaten your greenery, it's important to know how to manage and eliminate them so you can ensure the continued growth of your garden.  Check out the following tips to help get you on the path to a professional green thumb.

The Dangerous Insects

There are a bunch of insects to watch out for when maintaining a healthy garden.

  • These guys will attack underground plant parts:
    • Mole Crickets
    • Wireworms
    • Cutworms
    • Grubs
  • These guys will feed on plant leaves and stems:
    • Beetles
    • Armyworms
    • Hornworms
    • Pinworms
    • Aphids
    • Stinkbugs
    • Mites
    • Spiderflies
    • Tuberworms

The Helpful Insects

  • Lacewings  are beneficial bugs whose larvae feed on pests that can damage your garden. You can purchase them at a gardening store or try luring them into your garden with plants that produce nectar or melons like honeydew. And don't use insecticides if you want to keep these little guys coming back each spring and summer.
  • Ladybug larvae feed on tons of nasty aphids that can wreak havoc on your plants. To encourage these beneficial insects into your garden, give them small and shallow-faced flowers with easy access to nectar and pollen.

Pesticides and Horticultural Oils

Sometimes you need to bring in the big guns to fight garden pests, and that's where insecticides  and horticultural oils  come in.

  • If an insecticide is needed, select one that best fits your situation.
    • Make sure you can use it on a variety of crops and that it will treat a variety of problems. This way you don't have to buy tons of products, nor do you run the risk of overwhelming your garden with chemicals.
  • To prevent storage and disposal problems, try to buy pesticides  in quantities small enough for one growing season.
  • You can buy ready-to-use pesticides that require little time and preparations.
  • Follow the label directions to achieve the best outcome. A.K.A. don't overuse it, wash thoroughly after use, read all the warnings and dispose of the contents as instructed!

Horticultural oils work well during both the dormant and growing seasons, suffocating insects and penetrating their eggs and larvae.  Oils also help to prevent the spread of disease and have few detrimental effects on beneficial bugs.  And like insecticides, simply reading the label is the best defense against improper use.

Organic Pesticides

If you're nervous about using chemical pesticides, there are a bunch of organic alternatives  out there that may be just as effective.  Garden supply stores sell traps for certain pests like roaches and mosquitoes as well as organic sprays and pellets that won't harm any produce you may eat.  You should also always consider luring pests' natural enemies to your garden by planting certain flowers  or veggies.

Other Tips

  • Rotate individual crops or families of crops so that the same vegetable is not grown in the same location more than once every three years. Pests will learn where to find this tasty grub if it's always in the same place year after year.
  • If you purchase grown plants to be transplanted into your garden, make sure they are free of insects and diseases.
  • Try keeping your plants in tip-top shape by giving them plenty of water and fertilizer . A healthy plant is often able to survive insect attack.
  • Randomly select plants to monitor two or three times a week. This should give you a better feel of your pest problem, if one indeed exists.

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