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Gardening Tips: It's time to start your bug patrol

Despite the up and down weather this spring, we are starting to see pest problems in the garden.

Despite the up and down weather this spring, we are starting to see pest problems in the garden.

Now is the time to walk around your yard, look closely at plants and inspect for the following bugs:

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that cluster in large numbers around the tips of new growth and on the underside of leaves.

They can be various colours; light green, red or black.

They harm plants by piercing and sucking the juices from soft leaf and stem tissue.

This distorts new growth and weakens the plant.

They feed on a wide variety of plants.

Since they do have such a soft body, they are one of the pests that are easier to control with organic products.

End-All kills both the adult, nymph and egg stages of aphid, whitefly and several other soft-bodied insects.

Spray directly on the insects and the underside of the leaves.

Repeat at 7 to 10 day intervals, as aphids have a quick life cycle in warm weather.

A mild dish soap mix with water will also work on aphids; mix 1 part soap to 20 parts water.

Euonymus Webworm has already hatched and will veraciously eat the foliage of Burningbush and other euonymus plants.

These pests form a mass of webbing similar in appearance to the tent caterpillar.

Sometimes the best solution is to cut off the branch with the webbing, bag it and dispose of it in your garbage.

This can be done if you catch the problem before the insects head out of the web to feed on the rest of the foliage.

Otherwise spray with End-All, Insecticidal Soap or BTK.

BTK (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a biological insecticide that works well for all the chewing caterpillars and other destructive larvae forms of moths and butterflies.

It is the best product to use for Spruce Budworm, Tent Caterpillars, Mountain Ash Sawfly and more.

Spray it on foliage so the pests ingest it as they eat.

Keep an eye out for Pine Sawfly larvae (pictured above).

This is another small caterpillar-like insect that hatches in vast numbers and eats new needle growth very quickly.

Mugho Pine is one of their favourite plants to attack.

This pest is actually the larvae stage of a wasp so BTK is not an effective control.

Insecticidal soap will work on this pest if you find them young enough.

As an aside, you should be pruning your Mugho and other pines right now.

You have to prune when the new growth looks like a candle, just as the needles are opening up.

If you have missed that stage, prune immediately.

The growth is still young enough that new buds will form after you prune.

We have already seen that the larvae form of the Viburnum beetle is out too.

This pest will turn healthy leaves into an unsightly lacework that turns brown and shrivels up.

Inspect the underside of your viburnum leaves right away!

If you see a small number of larvae, pick off the leaves and destroy them.

Large numbers of pests will need to be sprayed.  

Whenever you use a product to control pests, be sure to choose an overcast day when no rain is predicted or early morning/early evening of a sunny day.

Don’t spray foliage during the heat of a sunny day.

The product you use could damage the foliage.

I have mentioned nematodes previously for control of lawn pests, but there is also a nematode available for control of common pests in the vegetable garden.

This beneficial nematode mix will attack Armyworm, cutworm, Iris Borer, onion maggot, carrot maggot, flea beetles and many more garden pests.

Now that soil temperatures are above 10 degrees Celsius and the ground is moist from all the rain, it is the perfect time to apply this pest control option.

Always remember, that with careful observation, small problems can be dealt with quickly.

If a pest goes unchecked, it is always harder to control more mature pests that have traveled over a broad area in your garden.