Your backyard is under siege. Mysterious brown spots have started showing up on your lawn, even though you have been watering it regularly. You have noticed that the leaves on your flowers are full of holes. Despite meticulous planning and work, something has gone horribly wrong.
That “something” might be pests. While many insects are beneficial to a lawn or garden, some are harmful and can ruin your landscaping before you can snap your fingers. If you notice inexplicable problems with the plants in your yard, here are five of the most common perpetrators and steps you can take right now to deal with them.
Grubs. Grubs are the larva of beetles. Grubs are easily identified by their soft, white bodies. Beetles lay their eggs in the soil. When they hatch, the grubs feed on the roots of plants in the soil. If you notice brown spots on your lawn, you may have a grub problem. The number one way you can prevent grubs from getting into your lawn is to take care of it. A thick, healthy lawn with aerated soil acts as a deterrent. Beetles prefer to lay their eggs in compacted soil. If you find you already have grubs, you can use pesticides that may damage your lawn somewhat or purchase milky spore, a type of spore that kills grubs.
Japanese Beetles. Japanese Beetles are an invasive species in the United States. They can be identified by their copper shells. The same preventative measures you used for grubs can also be used on Japanese Beetles-- keeping your lawn healthy and aerated. Japanese Beetles feed on roots and grasses. The same milky spore that is used to control grubs can also be used on Japanese Beetles.
Aphids. Aphids are tiny green insects that are one of the most destructive lawn and garden pests in the United States. Aphids eat the leaves and stems of plants. If you see wholes in the leaves of your plants, you may have an aphid problem. If you identify that you have aphids, one of the best solutions is natural: introduce their predators. Ladybugs eat aphids. Your local gardening supply store should sell ladybugs. Introduce them to your lawn and let them go to town.
Slugs. Slugs are soft-bodied like grubs, but they are more of a yellowish color. Slugs tend to feed on new growth, so if you have new grass, saplings, or small garden plants, you may end up having a slug problem. To prevent slugs from killing your plants, plant natural slug deterrent flowers like geraniums. You can also pick slugs off of your plants by hand, though we recommend wearing gloves while you do this.
Carpenter Ants. Carpenter ants, which look like very large versions of regular ants, can be a problem not just for your trees and hedges but for your home and deck too. Carpenter ants infest wood and cause untold amounts of damage to homes and hedges every year. Carpenter ants prefer to nest in rotting wood. To keep them away, keep the structure of your home dry. Make sure any wooden structure you own has a coating of sealant. Keep your hedges and trees healthy to prevent the wood within them from rotting. If you do have a carpenter ant infestation, find their nest, and lay ant traps to catch and kill them.