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Fighting insects in the garden is not my favorite past-time. I’m pretty sure they think that the “human” planted them a buffet. Besides, we live in the woods, and there are a million insects out here just ready to devour my garden. Even so, I’m fighting back, I’m not laying down! Therefore, I put together a couple of things that you can use to fight back too. Additionally, I hope you’ll find these garden pest control ideas useful!

Taking Garden Pest Matters Into Your Own Hands, Quite Literally!

Without a doubt, plants that are healthy and happy are naturally more resistant to insect damage. For instance, plants that have the right amount of light, water, and food are more likely to be able to survive attacks from insects.

It also helps when you keep the weeds under control, and remove any nonproductive plants.

Sometimes plants come in different varieties. Moreover, some varieties can include an insect-resistance. Selecting the right variety can indeed be important too.

Know Where They Hide!

Obviously, Insects/Bugs don’t just hide under the leaves!

Sometimes, caterpillars will hide between two leaves. In particular, they cocoon themselves between two leaves, almost gluing them together. You think this might look obvious but it DOES NOT! In fact, It just looks like a normal leaf. For this reason, you can find these little buggers by inspecting the top and bottom sides of leaves. If you find two leaves stuck together pluck them both, and slaughter the caterpillar!

I haven’t been able to identify what kind of caterpillar these are yet, unfortunately. If you know, please leave me a comment so I can study them further!

I’ve found many of them this year. They were on my mint, black bean, and romaine leaves.

In addition, you’ll want to check the stem, flowers, and buds of the plants for pests.

Squish The Squishies

That’s right I said it! Squish those buggers! One of the biggest things that I’ve learned about Gardening in Florida is that there are a ton of bugs, and you must fight the good fight everyday! You must inspect your plants everyday, maybe twice a day! It sounds crazy, but if you want to avoid approaches like using pesticides, this is necessary.

Find the bugs before they eat all your garden goodies!

There are some insects you can just squish between your fingers. Some insects you’ll want to use gloves to squish, like the Eastern Lubber that I’ve faced this year. They apparently have a foamy toxin that they will squirt out from their hindquarters. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when squishing toxic insects.

Squishing some insects like aphids may also be helpful since, some people believe it puts off a pheromone that tells the other aphids that it’s time to go.

Spray The Squishies

For plants that can take a beating, you can use the water hose and spray the insects off. I don’t like the idea of them just coming back though…

Kitchen Scraps That Act As Garden Pest Control!

Orange peels can be a natural deterrent for pests, such as cats, aphids, and ants. Simply because they don’t like the smell of citrus!

Generally, you can save your orange peels and chop them up into small pieces, and plant them around the stem of the plant or dig a trench by the plants and bury them.

Garlic Paper – Garlic paper can help repel some insects such as aphids. Grind them up in a blender, and sprinkle around the stem of a plant and work into the soil a little.

Banana Peels – Cut peels up small, dig a trench next to your plants and bury them in the soil.. Banana peels can help repel some pests but they also provide potassium, calcium, magnesium and more to the soil.

All-Natural Garden Pest Control Spray

The first couple of recipes that I’m listing are a mix of water and soap. When I first read about using a soapy water solution to help fight pests in the garden, I was a little baffled. Why in the heck would soapy water kill garden pests? I refrained from using this method, because I thought surely it wouldn’t work.

However, I was so very wrong. No don’t get me wrong, fighting garden pest in a giant pain in the rear! Even with these handy tips of mine. I live in Florida and I’m fighting bugs EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. just about!

Homemade Garden Pest Control Sprays

Water & Soap Garden Spray

This is my go to spray! It’s the easiest to make, and well it works pretty well.

This soapy water spray for your garden plants should help fight off insects such as, aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, spittlebugs, and rose slugs. In addition, this spray can also help you fight soft scale on houseplants, fruit trees, and ornamental plants. This soap should be used regularly until the insect population is under control or decimated!

Soapy Water Insecticide Spray Recipe

Ingredients & Directions

A couple drops of Dr. Bronner Castile Soap (This is the kind I use)
Fill the rest of your spray bottle with water.

To Apply this Spray: Firstly, cup your hand around the bottom of the plant and around the stem. Then, spray into your hand and onto the plant. Keep spraying while you move up the plant. As a result, this can help you distribute the soapy water on the underside and top side of the leaves.

How Soap and Detergents Manage to Kill Insects

The crazy thing is that scientists aren’t exactly sure why soapy water kills insects. However, they have been working on studying this conundrum. Some soap works by simply removing the outer waxy coating of an insect’s cuticle. Which destroys its watertight properties and causes the insect to dry up and die.

On the other hand, other soaps might have properties that are insecticidal which might affect their nervous system. Fortunately, this usually only affects plant-eater insects. Additionally, it usually leaves the helpful insects alone like the ladybugs, predatory mites, and my other friends of the garden, lacewings.

Spicy Pest Control Spray

This garden pest control spray usually works for aphids, caterpillars, slugs, snails, potato bugs, squash bugs, cutworms, and spiders.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Firstly, add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Secondly, add soap and stir the mixture well.
  3. Turn the heat down and simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Additionally, Watch the pan closely, to make sure it doesn’t boil over if it does, remove it from heat immediately.
  5. Take off heat, and allow to cool.
  6. Strain the ingredients.
  7. Pour the liquid in a spray bottle.
  8. Spray on the entire plant, and make sure to get the underside of the leaves! That’s where bugs like to hide and lay eggs.
  9. Apply this spray about 1 a week or after every watering.

Don’t spray your plants in the heat of the day, due to the fact that, it may cause the foliage to burn.

2 Sprays to Control Powdery Mildew

If you notice a white powdery substance on your plants, it’s probably powdery mildew.

Baking Soda Method

  1. Take 3 tbsp of baking soda with a gallon of water.
  2. Add 1 tbsp of cooking oil, any kind I prefer coconut oil.
  3. Add in a couple drops of dish liquid.
  4. Spray on the plants and make sure to get the underside of the leaves.

Don’t spray your plants in the heat of the day, due to the fact that, it may cause the foliage to burn.

Apply once a week for three weeks.

Milk Method

  • 1 part milk
  • 3 -4 parts water
  • Mix in a spray bottle
  • Spray on the plants and make sure to get the underside of the leaves.

I like to spray in the morning, and place the plant in a place where it will get some morning sun. If it’s a shade loving plant, let it hang out in the sun for an hour or two, and then put it back in the shade.

Reapply every 10 days or so until the issue is resolved.

Garden Pest Control Using Plants – Companion Planting

  • Marigolds – These cute little flowers help to repel pests. Keep them flowers all summer by removing the dead flowers.
  • Sunflowers – Not just gorgeous to look at but they also are great to aid with aphids, and other pests. Sunflowers can also provide a trellis for vining plants such as peas, cucumbers, and beans.
  • Radish – Plant near cucumber to help repel insects such as cucumber beetles.
  • Chamomile – Plant near cucumbers, turnips, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and especially, onions to improve flavor. You can also use chamomile to make tea and homemade items.
  • Nasturtiums – One of my favorites! Not only do they have beautiful flowers and leaves, but they also help deter bugs. Plant near cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, squash, and cabbage. The flowers are edible.
  • Basil – I love basil! Plant with tomatoes to consequently improve flavor and growth.
  • Dill – Plant dill near cucumbers and cabbage, consequently to help improve flavor and repel pests.
  • Onions – Plant onions near broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, and cabbage as a result to repel garden pests.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) in the Garden

A few warnings about DE first.

  • This fine powdery substance is not great for the lungs. It’s suggested that a person wear a mask when applying it.
  • Use only food-grade DE. There are two kinds, one is food grade and one is used in pools! You don’t want to use the wrong kind, especially in the garden.
  • DE can kill bees. Use sparingly. Use DE in the garden only where necessary. Don’t use on flowers.

What is it and Why is it a Good Garden Pest Control?

I found the explanation of what DE is exactly beautifully explained at Maximum Yield.

Microscopically DE has sharp edges, that makes walking on it for insects very dangerous and deadly. It’s kinda like walking on a piece of glass.

That’s why it works. Seems kinda cruel now that I’m writing about it, but you know what else is cruel? The stupid insects are out there without a doubt eating my garden. I’ve worked super hard on those plants, and those thieves have undoubtedly ruined my plants! Gah!

How to Use DE in the Garden as a Garden Pest Control

You can sprinkle or use a duster (that’s the one I use) to sort of spray DE on the areas that need it. For the most part, I like using a duster the best. It’s easy to use this thing inside too, when I put it around my bed, baseboards, behind the stove, and such…

Good Bugs for Garden Pest Control

  • Ladybugs (buy here)
    Eats aphids, fleas, mites, potato beetle, whiteflies.
    Likes basket of gold, dill, dandelion, yarrow.
  • Praying Mantis (buy here)
    Eats – caterpillars, and crickets, moths, beetles.
    Likes – tall grasses and shrubs, cosmos, marigolds, dills.
  • Spiders
    Eats – aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and fruit flies
    Likes – tall plants, mulch
  • Ground Beetles
    Eats cutworms, caterpillars, slugs, potato beetles
  • Likes – clover, evening primrose
  • Aphid Midges
    Eats – aphids
    Likesdill
  • Braconid Wasps
    Eats – aphids, caterpillars, hornworm.
    Likes dill, parsley, lemon balm, yarrow.
  • Damsel Bugs
    Eats -aphids, cabbage worms, caterpillars, potato beetles, mites.
    Likes -alfalfa, caraway, fennel, goldenrod, spearmint.
  • Green Lacewings (buy here)
    Eats – aphids, whitefly, mealybugs, caterpillars, leafhopper.
    Likes – dandelion, dill, angelica, coriander.
  • Minute Pirate Bugs
    Eats – aphids, caterpillars, insect eggs, spider mites, thrips.
    Likes – alfalfa, caraway, fennel, goldenrod, spearmint.
  • Soldier Beetles
    Eats – aphids, grasshoppers eggs,, soft-bodied insects
    Likes – goldenrod, zinnia, marigold, linden trees
  • Tachinid Flies
    Eats – cutworms, gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, squash bugs.
    Likes – buckwheat, carrots, coriander, cilantro, dill.
  • Hoverflies
    Eats – aphids, caterpillars, scale insects.
    Likes – dill, basket of gold, statice, yarrow.
  • Mealybug Destroyer (Cryptolaemus) (buy here)
    Eats – mealybugs, aphids, immature scale, and immature whitefly
    Likes – angelica, fennel, dill, goldenrod, sunflower.
    Predatory Mites (buy here)
    Eats – spider mites

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Garden Pest Control

Resources:

https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=18009
https://simonleather.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/the-scent-of-fear-the-aphid-alarm-pheromone/
http://extension.msstate.edu/publications/insect-pests-the-home-vegetable-garden