LANSING, Mich. — Summer is here! Whether you're warming up the grill, planting beautiful flowers, or simply relaxing in the sun, now is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy your yard or garden. However, pesky insects also love to visit your garden in the summer. Not only are they irritating, they can also do some serious damage to your plants.
Identify the Culprits
There are a few different ways to identify the pests that are terrorizing your garden. If you happen to catch them in the act, try to snap a photo and take note of the color, body shape, size, wing shape and number of legs. Using a garden guide book or a web search, you can use these physical descriptions to determine what type of insect is eating your plants.
*Another way to identify pests is to examine the damage. Some insects have specific diets and will only target certain plants, leaving behind unique feeding patterns or tunnels.
Common Garden Pests
Aphids are tiny bugs with a pear-shaped body. They come in a range of colors, including green, yellow, red, brown, or gray. Aphids cause damage by sucking the sap out of plants, which can lead to off-colored or curled leaves, stunted plant growth, and a sticky buildup on your plants called honeydew that can lead to sooty mold that attracts ants. Aphids tend to prefer fruits, vegetables, and woody ornamental plants.
Spray the aphids with a blast of cold water to shake them off your plants or spray the leaves with an aphid insecticide or a combination of liquid dish soap, water, and cayenne pepper.
Grasshoppers tend to eat leaves, but they only eat the flesh that can be found between the veins and stems of the leaf, leaving behind the skeletal remains of the leaf. Grasshoppers can be managed by dusting the leaves of your plants with flour or garlic bulb & water mixture.
Mow your lawn frequently to keep your grass short to rid of these pesky things.
Caterpillars have a taste for vegetable plants, especially leafy green plants. You can tell if caterpillars have visited your garden by the distinctive ragged holes they leave behind in plant leaves.
Control them by picking them off your plants and relocating to a more convenient location before their eggs can hatch.
Japanese Beetles can devastate your garden, swarming a plant until there is nothing left. They love ornamental plants like shrubs, roses, or trees as well as vegetables.
To eliminate them, spray the affected plants with a specialized insecticide. For a chemical-free solution, place a plastic sheet beneath the plant and shake off the beetles and dump them
into a bucket of soapy water. Do this in the morning before when beetles are active.
Slugs and Snails love to feast on young vegetable seedlings, feeding at night or during cloudy or rainy days making it very difficult to spot them. Look for irregular holes in the center of your plants' leaves or perfectly round holes in soft fruits or vegetables like tomatoes or strawberries. Use products specifically designed to get rid of slugs or place the 2x4 in between the rows of your vegetable garden at night. When the sun is high in the sky, the slugs will take shelter beneath the boards.
Using gardening gloves and a bucket filled with soapy water, flip over the boards and collect the slugs.
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