If you're a homeowner who takes pride in your vegetable garden and exterior landscaping, you may feel like you're fighting a never-ending battle with pill bugs, beetles, and grubs determined to yellow your grass and nibble at your garden crop. If you're concerned about your family's ingestion of pesticides through your home-grown veggies or your pet licking pesticide residue off his or her paws after an outdoor romp, you could be reluctant to use methods guaranteed to cause harm to any live insects on your property. What can you do to naturally or organically rid your lawn of these pests? Read on to learn more about the bugs you're facing and how you can get rid of them while still keeping your lawn and garden organic.
Which bugs cause the most problems for lawns and gardens?
There are several bugs that specifically target certain types of fruit and vegetables and can be devastating for a bumper crop. Weevils and borers can be particularly harmful, as they will bore into the center of a piece of corn, squash, or potato, harming it from the inside. Certain types of fruit trees are also susceptible to weevil and borer damage, particularly apple and peach trees. Beetles can cause harm to tomatoes and more soft-skinned fruits and vegetables, although their small bites are usually confined to the outer layers of their target. If you have a severe beetle infestation, you may find that your entire crop is covered with too many bug bites to be edible.
Before these beetles, weevils, and borers become adults, they're grubs -- living beneath the soil and feeding on the roots of your grass and other plants, quickly causing yellow or brown patches in your lawn. In addition to killing off your grass, these grubs are a desirable food source for pest birds and moles, which cause their own damage. Before you know it, these small, seemingly defenseless grubs can have your lawn looking like a detonated mine field.
How can you control these bug populations without harming your family or pets?
Despite these aesthetic problems and your inability to harvest any fruit or vegetables from your garden, you may be reluctant to employ heavy-duty pesticides yet. Fortunately, there are several natural or organic ways to quickly and effectively rid your lawn and garden of pests.
To eliminate beetles, weevils, and borers from your garden:
If you have fruits or vegetables suffering from vine borers, your best organic bet is to spray the entire vine with a mixture of water and insecticidal soap early in the growing season. This soap is strong enough to kill eggs or young grubs but won't harm your plant and will wash off with the first rain shower after application. Once these borers have hatched and entered your vine, there may be little you can do to eradicate them without killing the vine yourself.
If weevils are your problem instead, you may want to place moist, rolled up newspapers around the outer edge of your garden each night. During the night, earwigs and weevils will seek shelter, and you can simply burn or throw away the newspapers the following morning. For weevils that are infesting trees or bushes, placing a sticky wrapper around the trunk or base of the plant should help trap weevils as they crawl upward to chew on leaves. Weevils can't fly, so in order to do much damage to your larger plants, they have to gain access from below.
Most types of beetles that feast on fruit or vegetables are attracted to the sugar in the skin. Placing a sugar and water mixture in an open plastic bag suspended at around shoulder height from the ground should help draw beetles. As the beetles try to reach the sugar and water mixture, they'll fall in and quickly drown.
To eliminate grubs from your lawn:
Because grubs live beneath the ground's surface, they can be more challenging to attack in an organic way. However, tackling these grubs can help eliminate your beetle and borer problems before they start, as well as eradicate moles from your lawn.
One effective way is actually to mix chewing tobacco and beer. This concoction is mixed with dish soap and water and can be sprayed on your grass, fruits, and vegetables. The nicotine in the chewing tobacco is toxic to most grubs but will wash off after a rain and shouldn't pose any threat to children or pets. Using insecticidal soap instead of dish soap can increase the effectiveness of this remedy.
If these methods don't work, you may need the help of professionals from a company like Ace Walco & Sons Termite & Pest Control.