Within the management of any garden one of the most difficult problems to handle is the presence of pests. The moment we detect any type of pest, an internal alarm is turned on that tells us “you must end the pest that is affecting our beautiful garden”. And from that moment on we are dedicated to trying to eliminate the problem however it may be.
In general, the appearance of any pest comes from an imbalance in the natural environment of our garden. In nature, everything is balanced and uncontrolled pest attack is rare. But in environments such as gardens, imbalance is something much more common, since our plants are not found there naturally.
Depending on the type of pest we are talking about, the control method may vary. We will not attack a pest of ogura in the same way as a plague of ants. In general, the most common way to control a pest is through the following three solutions:
1. Pest garden control
There are two ways to control pests in a garden. The first is to simply wait for a pest to appear and then attack it with a pesticide. In the second, what we do is try to prevent the attack, that is, take actions so that the plague does not appear.
Obviously, the best form of control is by performing prevention tasks. These will not eradicate pests 100%, but will decrease their number and importance. Therefore, it is not only necessary to know the management of pesticides for our garden plants, but we must also complement it with prevention methods.
1.1 How to prevent pests in vegetable garden
If we want prevention to be effective, it must come from planning our garden. That is, at the time we select and locate each plant.
There are many ways to prevent pests, although the most efficient are the following:
1.1.1 Through the plant association
What is sought is to group certain plants to create an environment hostile to pests. This hostile inhabitant is generated by the mutual collaboration between plants that, by combining certain characteristics (colors, smells, heights, etc.) come to confuse pests or attract their natural enemies.
Some examples are the following:
- Sage + cabbage + carrot: this combination is perfect for controlling cutter caterpillars.
- Marigolds + vegetables: prevents the attacks of aphids, bed bugs and worms.
- Basil + tomatoes: controls the attack of flies and mosquitoes.
These are just a few of the many possible combinations to prevent pests.
1.1.2 Creating biological corridors
The idea of a biological corridor is to have strips of natural weeds near our garden or ochard. With this we give a double prevention.
On the one hand, we favor the reproduction of possible natural enemies of pests. And on the other hand we are also giving other food alternatives to harmful insects.
It is not always possible to create these natural strips of weeds, especially since no one likes to have weeds in a garden. But if the dimensions and design allow, consider this pest prevention method, as it is one of the most natural and efficient.
1.2 Garden pest monitoring
Pest monitoring is the regular monitoring of the insect population within our crop. Through this practice it is possible to determine both the presence of the pest and its natural enemies. Knowing this, we can decide how and when to act on harmful insects.
Doing this on a regular basis will allow us to start working on the problem before major damage has occurred. For the sampling task to be efficient, it is necessary to have a good knowledge of existing pests and their natural enemies, which will be of great help.
In a home garden, it will be enough that each time you take care of your plants you take a moment to observe the insects present. Identify if there are cohcinilla, bacchus, aphids, spider mites, etc. and in what quantity they are. If there are only a few of these harmful insects, you can take steps to eliminate them before they start to do significant damage.
2. Common garden pest
As we said, it is key that you know which are the harmful insects for your garden. Therefore, here I will list the most common that exist. This way you will be able to recognize them when you make a follow-up observation on your plants.
These are small elongated black insects. They generally like to attack the flowers, as they pierce and scratch the petals of the flowers.
The best way to combat them is by using a pesticide that has pyrethrin or malathion in its composition. Later we will see that it is useful for other pests.
Again, these are very small insects that you can find in various colors (yellow, black, green, pink). Also, depending on their state of maturity, they may or may not have wings.
They reproduce very quickly and like to attack the new shoots of your plants. Depending on the degree of the attack, it can be solved only by washing the plant with a little warm water, or in more serious cases it is better to opt for a pesticide that contains malathion, pyrethrin or permethrin.
2.3 White fly
These are small white flying insects. Just shake a plant to see how these flies fly. When the attack is large it can be difficult to resolve.
Try to take this pest in time, as it also reproduces at very high rates. To treat it, spray your plants twice a week with a pesticide that contains pyrethrin or malathion.
They appear as wart-shaped insects that are light brown and transparent. It is common to find them on the stems or behind the leaves. Their food is the juice of the plants so they are very harmful in any crop.
Some of the products that you can use to treat this pest are pesticides based on Malathion Spray, Dimethoate, Volck Miscible or Calypso AL.
2.5 Red spider
Spider mites are a very small species of mite that is sometimes difficult to find. But when the attack begins to be important you will be able to see some fabrics (similar to those that spiders weave), and if you look you will find these annoying mites.
The treatment of this pest is carried out by means of an acaricide insecticide. The important thing that when you apply it you try to do it on the back of the leaves, where these mites are.
I think it is not necessary to describe what a slug is like, who does not know it? There are many species, some larger and some smaller. The smallest ones are often difficult to find.
They like to eat the leaves of your plants, you will notice many holes in them, so it is easy to detect slugs on your plants. There are many natural and chemical insecticides for treating slugs.
3. Natural enemies of pests
In general, to control pests and weeds in our garden we always choose to apply a herbicide or insecticide, both organic and chemical. But the best and most natural way to control these types of pests is to look for natural enemies.
Generally, each pest has many natural enemies so pests do not become a serious problem in balanced environments. We can divide natural enemies into three large groups:
- Parasitoids: they are insects that develop on or within other insects (in this case the plague). This is how the parasitoid ends up eating its host alive. Each parasitoid attacks only one prey, but they usually always look for healthy individuals (without another parasite). When a parasite invades its prey, it impregnates it with a feremona that the other parasites detect, which allows them to discriminate against this prey and look for another individual to attack.
- Predators: they are insects or mites that feed on other insects and mites that are pests of our garden. Unlike parasitoids, predators attack more than one prey during their life cycle. In general, predators are larger than their prey and can be both larvae and adults.
- Entomopathogens: the last of these natural enemies are microorganisms that have the ability to cause diseases to pests. More specifically it is about viruses, currently more than 450 types of viruses have been detected with the ability to control insect and mite pathogens.
3.1 How to protect natural enemies
To make it possible to have natural enemies within our garden, it is usually necessary to take certain measures. Which seek that the environment is conducive to the breeding and reproduction of these beneficial insects.
First of all, we need to make sure they have the necessary food and water. On many occasions, natural enemies need food sources that our garden does not have. Therefore, it is good to have a diverse environment that can provide such food. As we mentioned in previous paragraphs, creating sectors with natural weeds can provide both food and shelter for these types of insects.
Another very important point is to use insecticides very carefully. Keep in mind that most insecticides not only kill the pest, but also the natural enemies. Always try not to use broad spectrum insecticides, which kill all insects, look for specific insecticides for each pest. And don’t use it uncontrollably.
Something similar to what happens with insecticides happens with fungicides. There are beneficial fungi that you can kill if you use fungicides uncontrollably in your garden. With this I want to emphasize that be careful when using any type of pesticide (whether insecticide, fungicide, herbicide), they are products that in the short term can solve the problem, but in the long term they will bring you even more serious problems if you do not use them in a way. responsable.
3.2 List of natural enemies
To finish this section on natural enemies I will leave a short list with the most common ones. I hope you find it useful and you know how to use this information to make a more efficient and natural control of pests in your garden.
- Aphids: we can mention the following natural enemies of this pest; Aphidius species, bigeye bugs, brown lacewings, damsel bugs, sevenspotted lady beetle, lysiphlebus testaceipes, tiny pirate bugs, convergent lady beetle, green lacewings, spiders.
- Caterpillars: Bigeyed bugs, brown lacewings, alfalfa butterfly parasite, green lacewings, Hyposoter exiguae, spiders, tachyinid flies, Hyposoter exiguae, damsel bugs, bracon cushmani.
- Mealybug: Minute pirate bugs, brown lacewings, mealybug destroyer, dustywings, citrus mealybug parasite.
- Mites: Phytoseiulus persimilis, western predatory mite, damsel bugs, brown lacewings, bigeye bugs, minute pirate bugs, sixspotted thrips, dustywings.
- Travel: Spiders, damsels bugs, minute pirate bugs.
- Whitefly: multi-colored Asian lady beetle, green lacewing, dustywings, bigeye bugs, brown lacewing, spiders, dustywings, Encarsia formosa.
- Lygus: Anaphes species, bed bugs, damsel bugs, spiders, green lacewing, assassin bugs.
As you may have noticed, many natural enemies repeat themselves in various pests. Therefore, a good population of a natural enemy can help you fight more than one of the pests in your garden.
More information to consult:
- You Can Control Garden Insects – tennessee.edu.
- PESTS OF PLANTS – arizona.edu.
- Vegetable Garden Pests – wisc.edu.