Commonly, when people first think of a garden pest, they immediately ponder ugly bugs and beetles that wreak havoc on the vegetation. Below is a list of pests to be found in the insect family, but there are also small critters and fungi that gardeners must keep an eye on.
The methods of pest control differ from pest to pest as well as gardener to gardener. Once you have identified the source of your garden trouble, it is best to find a way to rid the pests without use of chemicals that may poison the soil in which your plants are trying to grow.
The following information is targeted toward identifying the four most commonly known garden pests.
Blight is a common problem that plagues gardeners and their precious bounty. Caused by a bacteria spread by raindrops as well as insects, it harbors in damp, humid weather.
Much like bacterial infections in the human body, blight attacks the plant at the source of an injury on the plant’s stem.
Blight has a spotty appearance and will eventually appear to be dead spots on the leaf. If blight is left untreated, it will rapidly deplete the plant from its nutrients, ultimately, causing the plant to die. Blight can be removed from the garden naturally by using copper.
Japanese beetles will show no mercy when it comes to attacking a garden. They will chew on leaves and flowers until nothing is left. Japanese beetles are about an inch long and are actually very pretty with its iridescent dark green and brown shell.
However, looks can certainly be deceiving when it comes to these damaging garden pests. To the Japanese beetle’s dismay, there is one plant that they cannot tolerate ingesting and that is the beautiful larkspur flower.
Larkspur proves to be toxic to the Japanese beetle, so gardeners plagued with the pest should plant the flowers near the garden.
Gardeners around the world cringe at the mere mention of aphids. Also known as plant lice, aphids are commonly green in color and are less than an inch long.
Despite their minuscule size, aphids are the most damage causing garden pest. Aphids suck the nutrients out of the plant leaves until the leaves are wilted.
While on the plant, aphids will leave behind a secretion, which is a tell-tale sign of an aphid infestation. To quickly remove aphids from the garden, spray the plants with soapy water.
If a garden has vegetation, chances are it will be visited by area wildlife. The garden is an excellent location for the hungry animals to dine of free food.
Deer, coyote, rabbits, and birds are all common visitors to a garden. Fencing in the garden area is a way to keep out the larger animals, but it is not always a possible option.
Hanging pie plates or chimes will spook the animals, but not rid them completely. Covering the vegetation with netting is a way to prevent sneaky paws from snatching the harvest.
If the wildlife problem persists, talk to the local animal control officer about setting live traps.
While birds are excellent singers and rouse us up from sleep with chirpy tunes in the mornings it is the crickets that rule the night with song when all else is asleep except the harmonizing of croaking toads. Interestingly it’s only the male crickets that have the ability to produce song. They do so by rubbing their wings together.
There are over 900 species of crickets and they can be found strewn out across the globe and living in various habitats. They are sensitive, delicate but hardy insects and can survive in varied outdoor habitats such as such as forests, meadows, caves, high trees, underground and under rocks.
The population of some species has dwindled alarmingly and these have been declared endangered species. When cricket habitats are destroyed by man or climate change, the crickets will often disappear with them because they are not equipped to migrate as they cannot fly even though they are equipped with membranous wings. Their hopping can only takes them so far when faced with issues like logging or forest fires.
Crickets are versatile eaters and will eat anything from vegetable to meat. In fact their nutrition needs are very similar to human beings because like humans they require a decent amount of protein, carbs, fruits and essential minerals to stay alive and healthy. They are essentially omnivorous and will eat an extensive variety of foods as outlined below:
- Raw Vegetables : pieces of carrots, salad remains, outer cabbage covers
- Raw Fruits: pieces of apple, oranges and bananas are great for vitamins and other nutrients.
- Protein: left over meats such chicken, beef, crushed cat food
As you can see their diet is quite extensive. When crickets lack enough protein, they are known to cannibalize each other in order to stay alive.
Crickets also need fresh water to survive and stay healthy. In case you rear crickets, a constant supply of water is vital. For populations to grow one has to understand that providing stagnant water is a bad move as the kids will almost certainly drown in it. The best mode of providing water to crickets is placing a sponge filled with water in their habitat. That will suffice for their drinking need and keep the cricket kids safe with a decent chance at survival.
Cricket as pets
Crickets belong to the Othoptera order and will grow to about an inch or two depending in there species. Their colors vary, most appearing as black while other will brown, red and even green. In China, crickets are considered to bring good luck and are often kept as pets. Today, there are a good number of people who rare crickets as a protein source for humans but also for poultry as well.
Crickets are an excellent source of protein for other pets such as snakes and lizards. With adequate provision of protein from left overs, crickets form a handsome meal for humans as well. They rarely become an infestation that needs pest control services.
A wasp is considered any insect in the Hymenoptera order under the sub order of Apocrita which can neither be defined as a bee or as an ant. These are common summertime insects that have a proclivity for stinging threats to their colonies. In the United States there are 4,000 wasp species which exist as other insects without inhabiting human dwellings. However, there are three types of wasps that are considered pest. These are the
- Yellow jackets
- Paper wasps
Although wasps are close cousins to bees the two don’t belong to the same subgroup. Unlike bees they are predators that eat other insects. Also some wasps like to build their nests near human dwellings so that they can benefit from human activities like growing crops and structures with wood as the primary construction material. Such wasps chew up wood and use the chewed material to make their nests.
As described above these wasps will chew the wood on human structures and build paper nests from the material after chewing. Adult paper wasps grow to be around 20 mm in length and they have reddish to deep brown color with some species having yellow markings on them. They are also called vespid wasps and they have longer legs that seem to hand off their body in flight.
Although these wasps are known for their sting they can also be a welcome presence especially if you have a garden or patch with flowers and vegetables. They will eat the insects that may be destroying your crop and maintain the balance of nature.
Yellow jackets are yellow and black but unlike the yellow and black paper wasps they are stockier with shorter legs. These wasps are predominant in North America and they tend to have a love for roaming the wild and will only approach human settlements when looking for food. If you have left food opened outdoors they will probably find their way to it.
Yellow jackets prefer to make their nests lower to the ground compared to other species that love to hide in the heights of the trees. Their natural habitat is the edge of the woods or forest and they typically east nectar and insects as well. They will pre-chew the insects to make it easier for their larvae to feed on it. Female yellow hornets are the most aggressive of the species and they also tend to be very territorial. They can sting repeatedly because their stinger doesn’t come off like bees.
Hornets are the largest wasps but not the most aggressive of the wasp species. They can be mistaken for their close cousins the yellow jackets who by the way are the most aggressive members of the species. Hornets do have the most painful sting though and when dealing with a species like the Japanese hornets one is likely in far greater danger of experiencing multiple stings. Some species are more aggressive than others like the Japanese hornets and these have been know even attack bee populations and kill off the bees.
Termites can show up in your space and stealthily go about their destructive work of destroying the structural soundness of your house or building. But these are the worker termites not to be confused by their larger flying cousins that are also known as swarmer. Swarmers typically appear after a rain storm that is followed by sunny weather. If it rains at night they will swarm a lighting fixture thinking that it is the sun.
Here is a fun fact about flying termites: they are a rich source of protein consisting of 38% protein not to mention the calcium, amino acids and zinc that they also possess in reasonable quantities. The species found in Venezuela has 64% protein. These little creatures can be very nutritious when they are not being harbingers of the bad news that you are probably having or about to have an infestation of the worker termites.
Seeing termites flying around your compound may signify you have timber that is damaged by the worker termites. This should be especially concerning if the termites appear to be coming from indoors. Outdoor sighting signify that they have already reproduced and their young may be burrowing looking for a way to reach the timber in your structure.
Termites with wings tend to fly most in the spring as the temperatures start to rise. The change in temperature prompts the young adult termites to leave their nests. The termites leaving the nest at this time are sexually mature and looking to make their own colony. The males will find a female, break off her wings and mate with her effectively becoming the king and queen of the new colony. Interestingly the queen will outlive the king living even up to 30 or more years.
Protect your home from termites
Take care of moisture in the house by containing leaks like drainage leaks and excessive condensation in the basements and other parts of the house.
Remove moisture damaged wood from your space like remnants of wood or timber used in construction because these attract the termites.
Make sure if you have a wood shed or timber in your compound it doesn’t have direct contact with the soil. Also keep mulch away from the foundation of your buildings including areas like the tool shed or outhouse.
Never keep firewood stacked up near the house as this attracts. Construct an elevated area for the wood further away from the house.
Only use treated wood when building and also for wood furniture to be used in the house. This includes the benches and tables used outdoors during barbeques.
Winged termites are not a threat to you or your property in any way. They do not eat the wood and they can be easily gotten rid of compared to the worker termites. You can destroy their nest which is usually visible on a hill. Pour some orange oil into their nest to disorient them and scatter their population. Remember that seeing a swarm of winged termites means the destructive worker termites are not far behind.
Ants can carry 20 times its weight and they are omnivores in nature. They can range in size from 0.8 to one inch depending on whether they are drones, workers or the queen ant.
The ant is a very social animal so they tend to live in colonies. This is one of the reasons getting rid of these little creatures can be easier than getting rid of other insects. There are more than 10,000 ant species and in most cases they make up half of the insect population of a place.
The anatomy of the ant
An ant is an anthropoid meaning it is a creature with segmented body parts. It belongs to the insect family which is characterized by three parts of the body and six legs. The ants body is made up of the head, thorax and abdomen.
Defining characteristics of an ants body include a tiny waist and a lager head with antennae on it that look like they have elbows. They also have well defined mandibles that they use to pick up food and carry it to their lair.
Natural ant killers
Ants can be destructive but with the right natural solutions one can be rid of them effectively.
A mix of vinegar and water can be used to effectively get rid of ants when they enter your house. Vinegar naturally repels insects because of its heavy scent which feels noxious to ants.
Essential oils are great at repelling most insects and they will effectively get rid of ants. These oils contain natural components used sometimes in insecticide. Oil like lavender is sweet smelling to humans but repulsive to insects like ants. Tea tree and peppermint are other oils used to repel ants. Just add a few drops to some water and shake well then spray on the ant’s nest.
This is a completely natural way of getting rid of ants and it is safe for pets and humans as well. You can use diatomaceous earth indoors and outdoors so find the source of the ants and sprinkle some earth there and find them inside and sprinkle there too.
Also sprinkle some in places they are likely to visit like the pantry and baseboards in the cupboards.
How to get rid of ants
To get rid of ants you need to have excellent hygiene.
Keep the garbage out
Ants look for a consistent supply of food and build a home around it. Your garbage could be their supply of food. By clearing your garbage you have no worries of ants finding food in the dust bins.
Clean pet food bowls
Ants live finding scraps of food in your pet’s food bowls. They will make it a habit to visit the bowl regularly to find food. Leave the bowls clean after every meal to prevent ants.
Ants will leave a scent to call their fellow ants to a source of food. Make sure to wash your space to wash away the ant’s scent.
The male Black widow spider is considered harmless to human beings because they have very small fangs to bite with so they can’t impart a significant amount of venom to cause an episode.
The anatomy of the male Black widow
While females can grow to one and a half inches across, the male will only reach three quarters of an inch at maturity. They are smaller in body and have distinct yellow and red markings. Their legs are also slightly longer for their body.
The female can be quickly identified from her red marking on her midnight black color.
The fate of the male Black widow
There are about 31 species of black widow spiders. Out of these only two will eat their male which she mistakes for food because he launches himself into her mouth after mating. If the female black widow is hungry when the make enters her web she may eat him up instead of copulating with him.
In order to avoid being eaten the make must create certain vibrations with his abdomen to alert the female that he wants to mate not to be a meal.
What to know about a make black widow
The males make their own webs away from the female until it is time to mate. They will destroy the web once it is mating season after smelling the pheromones that the female laces into her web to attract them.
The females stay put in their webs and wait for a make to come to them. The first male to arrive begins to disassemble the female’s web removing any proof of the pheromones laced web that’ll attract other males. He needs to do this to deter competitors from coming to that female because she can attract up to 40 males per night. As he breaks down the web he releases his own scent to mask her effectively keeping out the competition.
During their mating the make spider will wrap his silk web around her legs to mask her scent even further in what is commonly referred to as a bridal veil. If he successfully completed the wraparound he will walk away from the female and leave her to start the process of web building again. Males typically tend to live for only about one to two months because of risk factors like cannibalism and also natural selection.
Male black widow spiders are known for their ability to piggyback on other makes to reach a female looking to mate. They will follow the silky strands of other males looking for a female and find a way to overtake them and reach the female first. The most successful makes to reach a mating female are actually those that follow the other males and not the ones that follow the female’s pheromone laced cues.
A male black widow spider has a short and typically brutal life span. But these spiders have developed a fail-safe to help them stay alive for longer. That is looking for well-fed female black widow to mate with effectively lessening the chances of being eaten after copulation.
A mosquito bite is a nuisance that can have you itching until you break skin further and create an even bigger wound. The itch begins immediately the mosquito bites you because it releases its saliva that contains an anticoagulant into the site of the bite. The anticoagulant prevents the blood from clotting allowing the mosquito to gorge on your blood to its fill.
The body naturally produces histamine to help more blood containing white cells to flow to the site as the first immune response. The histamine is also responsible for activating the nerves at the site which react to the bite by instigating the itching.
Unfortunately, such activity can result in an infection of the mosquito bite known commonly as cellulitis. This is the type of bacterial infection that results from dirty hands coming into contact with an exposed wound.
How to stop the itching
Mosquito bites are usually from female mosquitoes. They feed on your blood to help them with their reproduction process especially in developing the eggs. Without the protein from human blood the eggs will not develop sufficiently in the body of the mosquito so that she can lay them for hatching.
You can stop the itch by first resisting the urge to scratch. Understandably, it is quite a strong urge but by indulging it too much you are not alleviating it but rather exacerbating it. Instead wash the area with cool water and soap for a few minutes to lessen the urge to itch.
Apply some calamine lotion or a hydrocortisone cream. Both soothe the area and lessen the urge to itch. They also mitigate the swelling and irritation that accompanies the bite. Both can be bought over the counter.
Hydrocortisone creams are especially effective because they counter the histamine in your body and act as an anti-inflammation agent.
A cold compress can also help to contract the blood vessels dilated by your body’s histamine as a result of the bite. The cold compress will cause the blood vessels to constrict lessening the swelling.
You can also take an oral antihistamine which will help maintain the balance of your natural histamine. It will prevent your histamine from attaching to receptors at the blood vessels effectively allowing your blood vessels to return to their natural state.
Some effective home remedies include heating a spoon to warm and applying it to the site. The heat will kill off the protein that causes the itching reaction. Alternatively, use some baking soda mixed with a little water and apply the paste to the site to stop the itch.
What to expect
As the site of the mosquito bite heals the itch will fade away completely. The bite is typically about a quarter of an inch across your skin. The redness of the area and the swelling should diminish within three days to a week. The bite will itch more at night because your cortisone, which is your natural anti inflammation, is at a lower level compared to its natural daytime levels.
Although most pests are incredibly resilient and very resourceful in hiding, bed bugs take it to a whole new level. They are one of the most difficult pests to deal with because of their uncanny ability to hide. Bedbug treatment requires that the exterminator knows exactly where the bed bugs are hiding in order to treat them successfully.
In this post we take you through how to find bed bugs. One of the reasons why they are so good at hiding in nooks and crannies is because their bodies are brown flat, small and oval. Although the adults have a somewhat reddish hue after sucking a hosts blood, their camouflage is still remarkably effective against wood, clothing and any other dark surface.
Bed bugs will typically hide in the following areas of your home. So if you have an infestation, you know precisely where to look and treat.
Well they are not called bed bugs for no reason. They love your bed. And whether your bed is made of steel or wood, this pest will find a way to hide in the tiniest crevice. Bed bugs love the bed because that way they are closer to you for easy feeding access during the dead of the night. Check bed joint and bed legs.
They cautiously hide in the seams of the mattress and if the mattress has an opening, they will be thrilled to live and multiply inside it virtually unreachable. They will step out at night for dinner when you are asleep. The menu is often the same, your blood.
Mattresses and box beds are a firm favorite for bed bags. In case of an infestation or as a way of prevention, sealing them ends up becoming a cheaper option as opposed to burning them.
3. General furniture
Bed bugs will prefer pieces of furniture where humans like to seat for longer periods such as sofas and recliners. They can be spotted in the middle of cushions where the seat legs meet the floor. Bed bugs also like to hide on artwork frames hanging off the walls.
If you have a carpeted floor, bed bugs will tend to hide where the carpet meets the wall. If the room has a wooden skirting, it also becomes an excellent hiding spot for this little beast of a pest.
Electronic sockets will often have tiny gaps between the wall and the socket. Light fixtures next to the bed such as lampshades can also be perfect hiding place for bed bugs.
Bed bugs will find joints in drawer framings to hide in. If you have an infestation, one has to remove all drawers and check inside as well the bottom of the drawer.
In an infestation bed bugs will also occupy the folds in hanging drapes, particularly if the drape’s color is darker.
A bed bug infestation is the very thing you would wish on your enemy in combat or not. Even then you would feel sorry for them because bed bugs are a nightmare and not easy to get rid of. Should you realize that you have an infestation, get in touch with a professional pest controller. They will assess your situation and formulate the most effective angle of extermination.
One has to wonder why a bug is called a ‘kissing bug’. And while you might be forgiven to think that it is because the bug is loving, you will be unpleasantly surprised to know that this bug’s idea of romance is absolutely abhorrent and may potentially infect its victim with a loathsome disease.
Now that we have discarded any notion that the kissing bug is even remotely romantic let’s move on to unpack just how unromantic the kissing bug truly is. The bug has been christened this name because of its propensity to bite it’s victims on the face, preferably near the mouth and around the eyes.
Kissing bugs are nocturnal insects and there is nothing in the looks of their 11 species that conjures up anything close to romantic. Quite the contrary as their heads are con shaped and they have oval bodies that will either appear as brown or black in color with orange stripes on the edges of their flat bodies.
Where are kissing bugs found?
They are mostly found in the Central and South of the US and Mexico. The kissing bug loves to live near striking distance of their hosts such inside dog kennels, chicken coops or any other domesticated or wild animal dwelling. They will make their way to human homes through cracks or occupy a pile of wood, the patio and so forth. Their hosts include animals as well as humans beings. They are generally nocturnal animals and will often bite and suck the blood of their host during the night.
Do they transmit disease?
Kissing bugs are carriers of a parasite known as trypanosoma cruzi which is responsible for causing the Chagas disease. Kissing bugs that have drunk the blood of an infected animal will carry this disease and can potentially transmit it to any other host they bite thereafter. What is even more interesting is the fact that it is not the bite itself that transmits the disease. The bite will indeed puncture the skin, but it what the kissing bug does next that totally astonishing. After delivering a bite and getting its fill of the hosts blood, it proceeds to defecate in the area. The feces of the kissing bug are where the Chagas parasite resides. When the kissing bug acquires the parasites, they are stored in the gastrointestinal tract of the bug. After biting and defecating on the host, the host will get infected only if the feces make contact with the wound or come into contact with cut or the host may inadvertently touch the feces then scratch the inside of their nose thus unwittingly allowing the parasite entry into the body. Chagas is a horrid disease in which the parasite causes inflammation to the heart and digestive tissue. The best form of prevention is simply not letting the kissing bug enter one house. Treatment is a combination of benznidazole and nifurtimox.
By washing the bitten area with soap and warm water, one can avoid infecting the wound with the kissing bug feces. However an ounce of prevention is definitely better than a pound of cure in the case of the kissing bug and Chagas disease. Should you notice any sign of this bug in your yard, porch or in the house, call a pest professional to help you effectively get rid of them but never touch them with your naked hand. On a scale of one to ten compared with a fly, the kissing bug gets a nine out of ten in terms of being dangerous.
Did you know that spiders belong to the phylum known as anthropods? Most people believe spiders to be insects but they are not. They are one among the four classifications of anthropods known as arachnids. The other three include the myriapods, crustaceans, and insects.
In the arachnid family there are spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites. Spiders are not the only arachnids with eight legs. Scorpions and other arachnids also have four pairs of legs as well.
Spider legs total eight in number and these creatures can still get around and survive even when they lose a limb. Spiders have more legs than they need according to scientists. They came to this conclusion following studies on spiders caught in the wild that were missing one or two legs. These spiders were still able to reproduce, build similar webs to their eight legged counterparts and hunt just as effectively.
Having said that spiders can’t afford to lose too many legs. In fact, two seems to be the limit as those with fewer legs did not survive out in the wild. They built less structured webs and their hunting game was off. They also couldn’t escape predators fast enough.
When a spider loses its legs it does so at the predetermined break point which is typically close to the body itself. The breakpoints have the natural ability to clamp shut to prevent he spider from bleeding out due to loss of a lim. They have a special muscle group that facilitates the clamp down. The process of voluntarily losing a limb is called autonomy.
Spiders have the ability to regrow back that leg in time as long as is loss doesn’t hamper their ability to hunt and move around. That is why losing more than one limb becomes dangerous for spiders in the wild.
How do spider legs work?
Because spiders are mainly terrestrial creatures they get to move along the ground most of the time. They use their legs to move around but also to secure their prey when hunting. When using its legs the spider employs the use of its muscles as well as its circulatory system. Spider blood, also known as hemolymph, is pumped into the legs making them expand outwards and facilitate movement. To move them back inwards the spider’s muscles contracts them pushing the hemolymph back into the body’s cavity.
This natural ebb and flow of hemolymph is crucial for movement which is why when the spider loses a limb it quickly clamps the affected joint to prevent too much blood loss. And the hydraulic movement doesn’t have the aid of flexor and extensor muscles that insects and other limbed creatures have.
With regard to their skitter from side to side they instinctively decrease or increase their body pressure to jut out some hemolymph to the limbs every few fractions of a second to achieve this movement. Apart from powering their movements, the expulsion of the spider blood from the cavity combined with the hydraulics, powers their genitalia for mating.