Pest and disease can be found in everyone’s garden at some time. Knowing what needs controlling and what needs to be left alone is intrinsic in achieving a successful garden. This leads to the choice between using organic controls, low toxic controls, controls for pests on edible plants and controls for pests on exotics. Decide if total eradication of a pest is really necessary since reducing the problem or numbers may be enough.
The good – beneficial bugs, lizards, birds,
The bad – fruit fly, stink bugs, possums
The ugly – curl grubs, scale, mealy bug,
There are many good bugs in the garden that eat the bad ones and there are different ways of attracting them into the garden.
Lacewings eat aphids, whitefly, mealy bugs, thrips and scale
Ladybirds eat caterpillars, beetle eggs, aphids and mites
Hoverflies eat soft bodied insects and the larvae can eat 800 aphids in a day.
These are good bugs that eat the bad ones. They are available for purchase and can be sent in the mail!
Luke - (red Chilocorus) is a helmet shaped ladybird about 5mm long that eats red scale, white louse scale and oleander scale. Luke comes in a container with 30 beetles. Recommend 1 punnet per 50 sq m.
Linda - (Cryptolaemus beetle) is a native ladybird and the natural enemy of mealy bug with both the adult and larvae preying on these pests. Linda comes in a punnet with 40 ladybirds.
An early release of the beneficial insects should be made before pest numbers build up and the damage becomes severe.
Companion planting can also be helpful. These are aromatic plants that have been found to benefit the growth of others, distract pests or lure the predators of other pests.
Companion flowers and what they do:
Alyssum: adds to organic level of soil
Daisies: reduces nematodes
Lupins: fixes nitrogen into the soil
Marigolds: reduces nematodes, reduces other pests, attracts hoverflies
Poppies: suppresses weeds
Petunias: repel insects
Companion herbs and what they do:
Anise: deters aphids
Basil: controls pests
Borage: attracts bees, aids pollination
Catnip: deters ants, aphids and others
Chives: cures black spot on roses
Dill: repels aphids and spider mites
Eucalyptus: repels insects
Garlic: good companion for fruit trees, repels vampires!
Lemon: balm attracts bees, aids pollination
Mustard: reduces aphids
Rosemary: deters cabbage moth and other insects
Sage: deters white cabbage moth
Tansy: deters insects like ants, plant around fruit trees to repel fruit fly
Wormwood: all round general insecticide, deters mice, slugs and snails
The Good Bug Mix
The Good Bug Mix is a cottage garden mix of seeds that grow into colourful flowers that attract beneficial bugs into your garden. Attract beneficial insects into your garden by planting marigolds, dill, sweet Alice, coriander, cosmos and Queen Anne’s lace. Sow in spring and autumn in large drifts directly in the garden or orchard.
Another method in attracting beneficial bugs such as lady bugs, lacewings and hoverflies, is to use Predalure; a combination of pheromones and food that lure them in. It is placed above the crop and has an attractant area of 4m2.
Some insects have to be controlled before they damage fruiting crops and flowers.
They are out in the garden in spring and are usually hiding out on the underside of your azalea leaves. They need to be controlled as soon as they are seen to prevent the ugly silvering of the leaves that will occur later in summer. Use a low toxic systemic spray such as Maxguard to control them. This spray works in three ways. It kills insects on contact, it has a long residual effect and it is also systemic; it is absorbed into the plant and will kill insects that feed on it. It is a low toxicity product that has little effect on other insects.
Leaf suckers, Caterpillars
Caterpillars, leafhoppers and grasshoppers all love fresh, new juicy leaves. If your plants are healthy you won’t really notice the damage. A few chewed leaves won’t matter much in the overall scheme of things but a plague needs action. Dipel & Success are two safe bacterial sprays that will not affect other beneficial insects.
Roses and citrus are particular favourites of aphids. You can either pull them off with a gloved hand or hose them off with a strong jet of water. Unfortunately they breed quickly in huge numbers. Use Pyrethrum or homemade garlic spray as both are low-toxic sprays and do the job well. Ladybird larvae are a natural control for aphids so encourage them into the garden. If you have many roses, find out about predatory wasps from your rose supplier. Many parts of Australia already have predatory wasps in residence, as a result of a release program.
Garlic spray recipe
• 2 cloves of garlic chopped
• 6 chillies chopped
• 1/10 rhubarb leaf for extra power
• One cup of hot water
Infuse overnight, strain and pour into a hand sprayer and drench aphid affected areas. Spray as needed to control caterpillars, aphids, snails, slugs and grasshoppers.
Snails and slugs
Beer traps are effective and easy to make. Simply bury a jar with beer in the bottom so they can slide straight into it. The smell of hops will attract them from the entire garden. Snails dislike travelling over wood shavings and used coffee grounds, so try placing them as a barrier around your garden beds. Defender snail and slug pellets can also be used.
Mealy bugs look like white flecks of cotton wool and are usually found on indoor plants. They breed and multiply quickly and spread to other plants, so isolate the affected plants and spray with Maxguard. You can try dabbing them with methylated spirits on a cotton bud but be aware they have probably infiltrated the root system, so repot after washing the roots.
If left unchecked, scale can slowly suffocate roses, lily pily, citrus, edible figs and many other garden treasures. Scale insects protect themselves with a waxy or hairy coating, so controlling them is difficult. EcoOil will smother them and they can simply be brushed off. Repeat spray up fortnightly for 8 times to control stubborn infestations.
By releasing some backyard buddies, the above can be controlled.
Curl Grubs when in plague proportions, particularly in pots and can’t get out will eat the roots of your plants. Picking them out and feeding them to birds or your chooks can control them.
Stink bugs start to come out into the garden during spring, we you may notice the nymph stage beetle as a small green beetle, the adult stage of the beetle in bronze orange which is why its sometimes called the bronze orange bug. They love citrus and can number into the thousands. They spray out a liquid that can burn your skin, irritate and can cause blindness in pets. Control stink bugs by spraying citrus early and often with EcoOil as a preventative measure.
Don't put diseased and infested cuttings in the compost. Bag them and throw them out with the rubbish Release your 'good bugs' early so they can establish themselves before infestation gets out of control.