Pest SOS: Top 12 Summer Pests faced by Sacramento Gardeners
If you are battling pests in your garden this summer, check out part one of our Pest SOS series here.
Description: Approximately half inch dark brown/black bugs with a segmented torso and pinchers.
Damage: Earwigs have chewing mouth parts which can cause irregular holes from feeding on soft new growth, seedlings and fruit. They also feed on other small, soft-bodied insects such as aphids, and can be considered a beneficial insect.
Common Hosts: corn, berries, stone fruits, flowers, and the seedlings of all types of plants.
- Sanitation- Earwigs tend to congregate in cool, moist places during the day and come out to feed at night. Avoid creating a pleasant environment for them by cleaning up dropped fruit, eliminating debris piles and using a drip system rather than spray irrigation to eliminate excess moisture.
- Traps- Create a trap for earwigs using a rolled-up newspaper, placed low to the ground near the plants which are being damaged. In the morning, dump the earwigs which have congregated in the newspaper into a bucket of soapy water.
Control: Baits such as Sluggo Plus are an effective method of control. Begin surrounding the host plants with bait as soon as the fruit begins to ripen, or just as the seedlings sprout. Reapply often for best results.
Description: Harlequin bugs are a type of stink bug with a shield-shaped black body and red markings.
Damage: All types of stink bugs have sucking mouth parts which they use to bite off plant tissue and suck out the juices, leaving discolored blotches behind.
Common Hosts: All plants. They are especially fond of plants in the mustard family when other food sources are unavailable.
Prevention: Eliminate Weeds. All stink bugs feed on weeds in the winter. Eliminating weeds as a food source will help keep populations down.
Control: Stink bugs are hard to control, as most pesticides are not very effective against them. Most pest control programs recommend attracting natural predators to your garden, such as green lacewings, damsel bugs, assasin bugs, spiders and minute pirate bugs to name a few.
For more information on attracting beneficials to the garden...
Description: Leafminer larvae are small yellowish maggots, the adults are striped black and yellow flies which resemble syrphid flies.
Damage: Adults lay their eggs on the leaves, where they burrow under the surface and chew tunnels through the leaf tissue. The damage is usually superficial and rarely fatal to the plant.
Common Hosts: Almost all plants, including many varieties of vegetables and flowers.
- Cultural care- Keeping your plants healthy will prevent them from becoming stressed and exuding chemicals which attract opportunistic pests. Prune off any leaves which show leafminer damage to prevent them from spreading.
- Attracting Beneficials- Leafminers can usually be controlled by their natural predators, so planting a variety of flowers which bloom during all seasons to attract beneficial insects can be an effective method of prevention.
Control: Spraying plants with an organic spinosad-based insecticide such as Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew is usually enough to deter them, and it is safe to use on edibles.
Description: Brown fuzzy rodents that resemble small rats. They breed profusely and populations will fluctuate cyclically, sometimes skyrocketing when conditions are favorable.
Damage: Chewing on leaves and roots of herbaceous plants and the bark of trees. They can even 'girdle' a tree by chewing around the entire circumference of the trunk and preventing the flow of water and nutrients, killing the tree.
Common Hosts: Grasses, herbaceous plants, woody plants, bulbs and tubers.
- Sanitation- By removing dense overgrown groundcovers, you eliminate some of their coverage forcing them out into the open where they are more exposed to predators.
- Exclusion- Using chicken wire or metal fencing to keep them out of landscaped areas. They can still burrow in occasionally, but the fencing will help keep some out. Metal barriers are also a good way of protecting the lower trunk of trees or the roots of young plants.
Control: Repellents such as Mole Max, when combined with the above methods of prevention, can be very effective. Burrow fumigants are usually not effective, as voles tend to create shallow tunnels with many entrances exposed to air.