CONTROLLING GARDEN PESTS.
It would be great if we could
garden without any interference from the pests that attack
our plants. Gardening would be a simple matter. But nature just
doesn't give us that break. We've got to be alert to what
the unwanted garden pests are doing and be prepared for the
tremendous havoc they can create.
Just as human illness can often be prevented by healthful
conditions, pests may be kept away by strict garden
cleanliness. Heaps of waste are lodging places for the
breeding of insects. Unkempt, uncared-for spots seem to
Nature does have its checks and
balances, and in some instances, provides means to keep the
pest population down, but not completely gone.
Many of our common birds feed
upon insects. The sparrows, robins, chickadees, meadow larks and
orioles are examples of birds that help in this way.
Earthworms, for example, keep the soil open to
air and water
by stirring up the soil.
Some insects feed on other and harmful insects. The ichneumon-fly helps too. And
toads are wonders in the number of insects they can consume at
one meal. The toad deserves very kind treatment from all of us.
Each gardener should try to make her or his garden into a place
attractive to birds and toads. A good birdhouse, grain sprinkled
about in early spring, a water-place, are invitations for birds
to stay a while in your garden.
If you want toads, fix things up for them too. During a hot
summer day a toad likes to rest in the shade. By night he is
ready to go forth to eat but not to kill, since toads prefer
live food. How can one "fix up" for toads? Well, one thing to do
is to prepare a retreat, quiet, dark and damp. A few stones of
some size underneath the shade of a shrub with perhaps a
carpeting of damp leaves, make a nice habitat for a toad.
There are two general classes of insects known by the way they
do their work. One kind gnaws at the plant really taking pieces
of it into its system. This kind of gnawing insect has a mouth fitted to
do this work. Grasshoppers and caterpillars are of this sort.
The other kind sucks the juices from a plant. This, in some
ways, is the worst sort. Plant lice belong here, as do
mosquitoes, which prey on us. All the sucking insects fasten
themselves on plants, and suck out the life of the plants.
Is it possible to fight these bugs? The gnawing fellows can be
controlled with poison sprayed upon plants, which they take into
their bodies along with the plant they eat.
To control the pests that suck juices from the plants, the only
thing is to attack the insect directly. Certain insecticides, as
they are called, are sprayed on the plant to fall upon the
insect. The chemicals do the deadly work of attacking the
body of the insect.
Sometimes, underground insects at work do deadly damage to our
gardens. Identifying the insect doing the damage isn't always
You can tell partly by the work done, and partly by seeing the
insect itself - not always so easy to accomplish. Cutworms are
elusive, but the damage is very evident. If stalks of
tender plants are cut clean off, it's pretty sure the cutworm is
around your garden. What it looks like is a hard question
to answer because its family is a large one. Should you see a
grayish striped caterpillar, you can assume it's a cutworm.
But because of its habit of resting in the ground during the day
and working by night, it's difficult to catch sight of one. The
cutworm is around early in the season ready to cut the flower
stalks of the hyacinths. When the peas come on a bit later, he
is ready for them. A very good way to block him off is to put
paper collars, or tin ones, about the plants. These collars
should be about an inch away from the plant.
Plant lice are more common. They are often green in color. But
they can be red, yellow or brown. Lice are easy enough to find
since they are always clinging to their host. As sucking insects
they have to cling close to a plant for food, and one is pretty
sure to find them. But the biting insects do their work, and
then go hide. That makes them much more difficult to deal with.
Some insects feed on other
harmful insects. Some types of
ladybugs do this good deed.
Rose slugs do great damage to the rose bushes. They eat out the
body of the leaves, so that just the veining is left. They are
soft-bodied, green above and yellow below.
The striped beetle attacks young melons and squash
leaves. It eats the leaf by riddling out holes in it. This
beetle, as its name implies, is striped. The back is black with
yellow stripes running lengthwise.
Then there are the slugs which are garden pests. The slug will
devour almost any garden plant, whether it be a flower or a
vegetable. They lay lots of eggs in old rubbish heaps. A good
reason to clean out any rubbish. The slugs do more harm in the
garden than almost any other single insect pest. You can
discover them in the following way.
There is a trick for
bringing them to the surface of the ground in the day time. You
see they rest during the day below ground. So just water the
soil in which the slugs are supposed to be. How are you to know
where they are? They are quite likely to hide near the plants
they are feeding on. So water the ground with some nice clean
lime water. This will disturb them, and up they'll poke to see
what the matter is.
Beside these most common of pests, pests which attack many kinds
of plants, there are special pests for special plants.
Beans have pests of their own; so have potatoes and cabbages. In
fact, the vegetable garden has many inhabitants. In the flower
garden lice are very bothersome, the cutworm and the slug have a
good time there, too, and ants often get very numerous as the
A common pest in the vegetable garden is the tomato worm. This
is a large yellowish or greenish striped worm. Its work is to
eat into the young fruit.
A light green caterpillar attacks celery. The celery caterpillar
can be identified by black bands, one on each ring or
segment of its body.
The squash bug has a brown body which is long and
slender, and by the disagreeable odor from it when killed. The
potato bug is another fellow to look out for. It's a beetle with
yellow and black stripes down its crusty back. The little green
cabbage worm is a perfect nuisance. It is a small caterpillar, smaller than the tomato worm.
But for real discouraging insect troubles the
vegetable garden takes the prize. If you grow fruit to
any extent, perhaps the vegetable garden would have to resign in
favor of the fruit garden.
These are perhaps the most common of vegetable garden pests by name. The
best way to keep the pest population under some control is to
check your gardens regularly and attack at the first sight of
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