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Common Garden Pests and Tips to Keep Them Away

Whether you have a colorful flower garden, a yard full of fruit trees, or a neatly trimmed and tidy lawn, you put a lot of care and effort into your yard’s upkeep. After you invest so much time and energy into your yard, you’d hate to see it all destroyed by pests. Too often, though, bees and wasps keep you from enjoying a pleasant day on your porch, voles uproot your tulips, or birds peck away at your fruit crop. 

To get the most out of your garden, lawn, or yard, read our blog below. We’ll tell you how to recognize common New Jersey garden pests and how to keep them away for good. With a little help, you’ll soon go back to getting the most out of your pest-free yard.

Aphids

Most gardeners get used to dealing with aphids each year. In small numbers, aphids usually won’t do much damage. However, an infestation can stunt your plants’ growth, turn tree leaves yellow, and transmit plant-destroying viruses to cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, and squash.

To spot an aphid infestation, check your plants regularly beneath the leaves for aphid populations. If you have a small number of aphid-infested plants, you can rinse aphids off with water. If you don’t use chemicals, you can rely on certain natural predators to kill aphids, such as lady beetles. Otherwise, talk to your pest control company about safe chemical and organic ways to control aphids.

Bagworms

These worms are named for the “bags” they deposit on trees to host larvae. The bags resemble pine cones, and since bagworms often feast on pine trees, many homeowners mistake them as cones and fail to remove them.

Once they hatch, bagworm larvae consume leaves and pine needles. They do particular damage to evergreens; if you have an infestation, you’ll notice your pine needles turning brown and falling off. They can also infest deciduous trees, in which case you’ll see holes in your tree’s leaves.

The best way to eliminate a bagworm infestation is to find and destroy the bags before the larvae hatch in May or June. You or your pest control expert can either find the bags and snip them from trees before the larvae hatch, or use a variety of pesticides to destroy the worms.

European Starlings

Many people don’t think of birds as pests, but this non-native species can cause structural damage, spread disease, and consume your plants’ seeds or fruit. You can recognize the European starling by its black coloring, cream spots, and purple/green feather gloss.

Typically, these pests cause more problems for livestock owners than for gardeners, since they transmit disease to pigs. However, they also eat peaches, apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and other cultivated fruits.

To prevent a starling infestation, trim or prune your trees to make them less attractive nesting spots. Unclog your gutters to prevent standing water. Add repellants like wires or metal coverings to ledges and horizontal outdoor surfaces.

If you notice starlings roosting in your trees at night, alarms or other loud devices can often startle them away. After a few nights of these alarms, most starlings will avoid your home in the future.

Voles (Field Mice)

These small rodents dig tunnels across yards, destroying well-mowed lawns and consuming bulbs and plant roots. Since they live underground, they can be hard for homeowners to spot. If you start to see surface paths across your grass or notice plants like tulips dying for no reason, you likely have a vole problem.

To make your yard less attractive to voles, trim your grass short and place mesh cylinders around plants to protect them. You can occasionally trap voles with mouse traps, but since their tunnels are difficult to find, traps might not be as effective as poison. Only a licensed professional can use poison on a voles infestation, so talk to your pest control company about your options.

Wasps and Hornets

Wasps and hornets don’t usually destroy your plants. In fact, like bees, they can be beneficial-they pollinate your plants and eat other garden pests, like flies and caterpillars. However, when wasps and hornets nest in your yard, they often make the outdoors scary for you and your family. While paper wasps won’t usually sting unless they feel threatened, hornets and yellow jacket wasps tend to be aggressive.

Wasps and hornets often gather around food, so to keep them out of your yard, seal your garbage can tightly. If you notice a small hornet or wasp population, you might be able to control them with outdoor traps, though these only work on certain species (like yellow jacket wasps). If you notice a nest or a large hornet or wasp population, contact your local pest control experts. Removing a wasp or hornet nest on your own can be dangerous.

Talk to Your Pest Control Company

For more help keeping your yard pest-free, contact your pest control experts. They can help you identify pests and safely remove them. Then, you can look forward to spending time in your pest-free yard or garden this spring and summer.

How to Keep Pests Out of Your Pantry

When you think of pests, you probably consider the great damage they can cause. Termites feed on wood and disrupt the structure of your home. Mice chew through your belongings and carry diseases that can affect your entire family. Bed bugs bite, and bees sting. Of course, you want to rid your home of these pests and feel safe and sanitary again.

But just as unsettling are those lesser known pests lurking in your kitchen cupboards. Although they do not pose much of a threat to your health or home, “pantry pests” can contaminate your food and leave you feeling violated. Imagine pouring out a bowl of cereal in the morning and seeing a moth fly out of the box. Gross.

However, if you adapt your kitchen with pantry pests in mind, you can easily keep them out completely.