Bugs and Pests – Do’s and Don’ts

Maintaining a green, weed-free lawn and thriving garden is a challenge but fending off those bug and pest infestations can be downright annoying.  While there are hundreds of lawn and garden pests that can attack your landscape and garden, common pests include caterpillars, Japanese beetles, leaf miners, snails, slugs, spider mites, mosquitoes, ticks, hornets, wasps, bees and fleas.

Many of these insects especially honey bees, wasps, and spiders can also be extremely beneficial to your lawn and garden.  So when a bug or pest is discovered, the first step is not to over react by introducing a large amount of insecticide and chemicals into your lawn and garden.  Try to understand the plants and the insects they attract. Once it is determined that there is a pest problem, first take some preventative steps to deter pests naturally. 

Some examples include:

  • Removal of insect habitat and breeding places such as weeds and debris.
  • Regular lawn mowing.
  • Watering plants early in the day or late at night to keep foliage dry during most parts of the day.   Dry plants reduce the attraction of insects. 
  • Removal of standing water from your yard, such as empty pots, containers, bird baths and pet dishes to eliminate mosquito breeding places.  Rain barrels should be emptied every week so mosquitoes do not have time to breed.
  • Make sure all drainage downspouts and piping are directed away from your home and low spots in the yard if possible. 
  • Interplant/mix garden crops and rotate them each year. 
  • Occasionally remove excess thatch from your lawn.

If preventative methods aren’t effective, try organic and biological controls such as various insect traps and barriers and the introduction of beneficial insects, nematodes, milky spore powder or other natural insecticide formulas. 

If you must resort to using chemical insecticides and pesticides here are some tips to apply it as safely and effectively as possible:Choose the right pesticide for the problem.  Check the label to ensure the pest you plan to treat is listed.Keep pets and children away from areas where chemicals have been applied.Always read and follow the pesticide’s instructions for use and safety warnings.More is not always better.  Don’t use too much.Avoid widespread applications if possible. Don’t use outdoor pesticides indoors.Keep pesticides out of waterways.  Don’t apply pesticides before rainfall or during windy conditions and don’t apply pesticides to hard surfaces where they can runoff into the stormwater system.

Jared Lowman, RLA is a project manager in Nave Newell’s Land Planning and Landscape Architecture Department. 

Questions? Contact Jared at [email protected] or 610.265.8323.

Follow @NaveNewell on Twitter or LinkedIn for regular landscape design and planting tips.

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