The Garden Corner

The Garden Corner by Sharon Allen Garden pests

Insects inevitably will find your garden; some are more welcome than others. Controlling insects, diseases, and other garden pests seems (to me anyway) to be an all-consuming chore. The garden always seems to be under attack.

This spring my yellow climbing rose barely had any leaves when I noticed that the leaves were spotted. I looked at the leaf undersides and discovered that there were tons of little green aphids. Adult aphids have soft bodies, are pear-shaped, 1/32 to 1/8 inch long and may be green, pink, black, dusty gray or have a fluffy white coating.

They suck sap from most small fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and fruit and shade trees. Their feeding causes leaf, bud, and flower distortion.

To combat aphids as well as leafhopper nymphs, mealybugs, and spider mites, I use the least toxic form of control. Generally it is just a frequent, sharp stream of water and the use of natural predators such as Lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.

Insecticidal soap is also effective (if your plant is not sensitive to it) or as a last resort, spray with neem or pyrethrin. For fruit or shade trees, spray dormant oil to kill over-wintering eggs.

Insects are not the only pests in my yard; moles have also begun to make their presence known. (Inject a loud scream!) Most of the time they are content with my flower garden, but this year they are moving outward into the lawn.

I am not sure why. I give them plenty of worms to munch in the garden. Well, I don't actually give them anything, but they take the worms and grubs that are available. Why do they have to mess up my lawn too?

I have found no simple way to discourage them. The metal traps that are on the market look too scary, and live traps seem like such a bother.

Moles are somewhat helpful in the garden. Their burrowing keeps it well aerated. So, I guess I will just have to keep repeating to myself, "The mole is my friend, the mole is my friend, the mole is my friend."

For answers to gardening problems, write to Sharon Allen at 110 North Plum Street, Vermillion, SD 57069, or email her at sallen@usd.edu

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