If there is one thing that puts a damper on gardening, it is garden pests. Garden pests come in a variety of shapes and sizes, wreaking havoc on trees, shrubs, flowers, and bushes. At High Prairie Landscape Group, we are careful to use products with low attraction from many of the common pests here in Kansas. However, no plant is safe from all insects.
Here, we will discuss a few of the more common pests you might find in your garden and what you can do to keep them away.
1. Squash Bug
Fully grown squash bugs live in leafy plants, taking up residence near the base of the stem, or underside of the leaves. In Kansas, squash bugs procreate twice a year, meaning our gardens often encounter two generations annually.
Squash bugs eat plants, piercing leaves and stalks and sucking the liquid from the plant with a sucker mouth section. If you have a squash bug problem, you may notice reddish-brown eggs on your garden plants.
Spray on insecticides and food grade Diatomaceous Earth are often suggested for squash bug infestations, although some homeowners swear by natural repellents such as handpicking bugs and eggs from leaves or planting late in the squash season to avoid insects.
Bagworms love trees and hedges, especially evergreen plants such as juniper, cedar, pine, and spruce. You may also find these creepy crawlers in rose bushes or crab apple trees.
Bagworms need to be treated during the month they hatch, which is usually late May or early June. You may find that birds do away with these critters naturally, but a strong multipurpose insect killer will also do the trick.
Grasshoppers are a nuisance in the garden and one that can also be treated with insecticides. However, there are a variety of natural grasshopper solutions, such as sprays made with garlic, and dusting the leaves of your plants with flour. The garlic deters the bugs from visiting your garden, and the flour causes the insects’ mouths to dry out, making it difficult for them to chew the leaves.
4. Leaf Beetles
Leaf beetles make up roughly 10 percent of all beetles in the world. They love eating foliage-rich plants, which is bad news for shrubs and bushes. In areas where leaf beetles are dense in population, plants can become sickly, wilt, and die. They are especially prominent in Kansas City during the summer months.
Some gardeners choose to pick beetles off plants one by one. You can also create a solution of 4 tablespoons of dish soap and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the beetles but try to limit the amount that lingers on your plants as it can dry them out.
Springtails are a jumping bug, often found in damp garden conditions. If you use mulch, you may have springtails living just below the surface. These insects are actually less of a pest and more of a help in the garden as they feed in fungus and decaying plant matter. In other words, they help keep your garden healthy. However, springtails sometimes move from the yard to the home and can invade your house, especially during the humid summer month when your home becomes damper.
If springtails are becoming a problem, you can deter them by cleaning infested areas with apple cider vinegar or an anti-fungal spray. A dehumidifier in your home will also help drive them back outside into the damp earth where they can help rather than hinder.
Mantids are another variety of bug that is not always a pest here in Kansas City. They eat other bugs, which means they could be a help in the garden. Mantises are not harmful to humans but can give you a stinging bite if they feel threatened.
If you have a mantid infestation in your garden, it might be worth removing them. Most landscapers remove the mantises by hand. Be sure to wear gloves and transport the mantids to another property far from your own.
Contact High Prairie Landscape Group
At High Prairie Landscape Group, we have years of experience dealing with the creepy crawlies of Kansas. If you find yourself worrying about your garden due to pests, we invite you to contact us at 1-816-398-2901. Our friendly and experienced team is always happy to share tips on pest control, recommend a local pest specialist, or help you create a garden with plants that naturally deter many of these common pests.