Pests come in all shapes and sizes, some of them are cute some are creepy crawlers. Its really best to prevent them from invading your space rather than eliminating them, as each species is necessary in the ecosystem.
If we could garden without any preventive from the pests which attack plants, then indeed gardening would be an easy subject. But all the time we must check out for these little enemies little in size, but tremendous in the havoc they make.
Because human illness may often be prevented by healthful conditions, so pests may be kept away by strict garden cleanliness. Batches of waste are lodging places for the breeding of insects. I do not think a compost heap will do the harm, but untidy, uncared-for spots seem to invite problems.
There are certain aids to keeping pests down. The continuous stirring up of the soil by earthworms is an assistance in keeping the soil open to air and water supply. Many of our common birds feed upon worms. The sparrows, robins, chickadees, meadow larks and orioles are all examples of birds who help in this way. Few worms feed upon other harmful worms. Some kinds of birds like ladybirds do this good feat. The ichneumon-fly helps too. And frogs are marvels in the number of insects they can eat up at one meal. The frog deserves very kind treatment from all of us.
All gardener should try to build her or his garden into a place magnetic to birds and frogs. A good birdhouse, cereal sprinkled about in early spring, a water-place, these all are invitations for birds to stay a while in your garden. If you wish frogs to stay in your garden, fix things up for them too. During a hot summer day a frog likes to stay in the shade. By night he is ready to go onward to eat but not to kill, since frogs prefer live food. How can one “fix up” for frogs? Well, one thing to do is to prepare a retreat, soft, dark and wet. A few stones of some size underneath the shade of a bush with possibly a carpeting of damp leaves, would appear very pleasant to a frog.
There are two common sorts of worms known by the way they do their job. One kind eats at the plant actually taking pieces of it into its system. This kind of insect has a mouth fitted to do this work. Grasshoppers and caterpillars are of this sort. The other kind sucks the juices from a plant. This, in some ways, is the worst sort. Plant worms belong here, as do mosquitoes, which prey on us. All the scale worms fix themselves on plants, and suck out the life of the plants.
Today can we fight these chaps? The gnawing chaps may be caught with poisonous substance sprayed upon plants, which they take into their bodies with the plant. The Bordeaux mixture which is a poisonous substance sprayed upon plants for this purpose.
In another case the only thing is to attack on the worm direct. So certain insecticides, as they are called, are sprayed on the plant to fall upon the insect. They do a deadly work of attacking, in one way or another, the body of the worm.
Some of the times we are very much in trouble with underground insects at work. You have seen a garden covered with ant hills. Here is a remedy, but one of which you must be careful.
This question is constantly being asked, ‘How can I tell what insect is doing the damaging work?’ Well, you can tell partly by the work done, and partly by seeing that worm itself. This last mentioned matter is not all of the time so easy to accomplish. I had cutworms one season and never saw one. I saw only the work done. If stalks of tender plants are cut clean off be pretty sure the cutworm is abroad. What does he look like? Well, that is a tough question because his family is a bigger one. Should you see sometime a grayish patterned caterpillar, you may know it is a cutworm. But because of its habit of resting in the ground during the day and working by night, it is hard to catch sight of one. The cutworm is about too soon in the season ready and waiting to cut the flower stems of the hyacinths. When the peas come on a bit later, he is ready for them. A very good way to block him off is to put paper collars, or tin ones, around the plants. These collars should be about an inch away from the plant.
Of course, plant worms are more common. Those we see are often green in colour. But they may be red, yellow or brown. Worms are easy enough to find as they are always clutching their host. As sucking insects they have to stick close to a plant for food, and one is pretty sure to find them. But the biting worms do their job, and then get hide out. That makes them much more tough to manage with.
Rose slugs do big harm to the rose bushes. They eat out the body of the leaves, so that just the veining is left. They are soft-bodied, green above and yellow below.
A beetle, the striped beetle, attacks young melons and crush leaves. It eats up the leaf by riddling out holes in it. This beetle, as its name implies, is striped. The back is black with yellow stripes running longitudinally.
Then there are the slugs, which are garden pests. The slug will devour almost any garden plant, whether it be a flower or a vegetable. They lay lots of eggs in old garbage heap*. Do you see the benefit of cleaning up rubbish? The slugs do more damage in the garden than almost any other single worm pest. You can find out them in the following way. There is a trick for getting them to the surface of the ground in the day time. You have seen that they rest during the daytime below ground. So just irrigate the soil in which the slugs are supposed to be. How are you to know where they are? They are quite likely to hide near the plants they are eating on. So irrigate the ground with some nice clean lime water. This will interrupt them, and up they’ll poke to see what the matter is.
Beside these most general of pests, pests which attack many varieties of plants, there are special pests for special plants. Discouraging, is it not? Beans have pests of their own; so have potatoes and cabbages. In fact, the vegetable garden has many inhabitants. In the flower garden worms are very irritating, the cutworm and the slug have a good time there, too, and ants often get very numerous as the season advances. But for actual discouraging worm troubles the vegetable garden takes the prize. If we were going into fruit to any extent, possibly the vegetable garden would have to quit in favour of the fruit garden.
A common pest in the vegetable garden is the tomato worm. This is a large yellowish or greenish patterned worm. Its job is to eat into the young fruit.
A large, light green caterpillar is found on cultivated celery. This caterpillar may be differentiated by the black bands, one on each ring or segment of its body.
The crush bug may be differentiated by its brown body, which is long and thin, and by the disagreeable odour from it when killed. The potato bug is another fellow to look out for. It is a beetle with yellow and black bands down its crusty back. The little green cabbage worm is a perfect nuisance. It is a small caterpillar and smaller than the tomato worm. These are perhaps the most common of garden pests by name.