WILL PEST CONTROL KILL MY PLANTS?
When a person is great at growing plants, they say he or she has a green thumb. These people are able to grow plants without a sweat. But, does that mean they also have the golden touch in keeping them pest-free?
Though gardening is not rocket science, it is not magic either. All plants, whether grown by a person with a green thumb or not, are susceptible to pests and diseases. It takes a lot of research to be very good at gardening, so people whom you know as having a green thumb actually did not have it easy at all. They worked hard to get those results; yet, just the same, their plants get affected by pests too.
A gardener knows that insects will always be a part of his or her life. Many insects are actually beneficial, though there are some species that are pests indeed. These pests are what everyone is wary of. Insects like aphids, whiteflies, grasshoppers, slugs, and mealybugs can give every gardener the fits; these insects are every gardener’s worst nightmare – green thumb or not. This is why pest control measures are just important to them as let us say, fertilizers, good soil, water, and sunlight. They cannot grow healthy plants without one of these.
Again, another problem is if pest control chemicals can kill the plants that these things are supposed to protect. Let us explore how pest control affects plants, for good and for bad.
Why is there a need for pest control in gardens?
For gardeners, it is important to become an expert in handling pests by way of pest control. Normally, they would go to the store to purchase a chemical pesticide which they have been using for years. To them, these go-to pesticides are proven effective in killing pests. Unfortunately, chemical pesticides are proven to do more harm than good to the environment. Despite this, the battle still moves on, because the plants need to be protected and the pests killed.
There are many different kinds of pests, all causing different kinds of damage to plants. One is not less important than the other. Some pests kill the roots, some kill or discolor the leaves, and some spread disease.
Each garden pest has its own behaviors. Here are some of them that you will have to look out for. This will explain why you need to do pest control for your garden’s sake.
- Aphids – Aphids look like miniature pears, but the damage they can do is enormous. Some people know them as plant lice. They can cause a lot of distortion on plants, as well as decay while feeding on the sap of plants. Aphids are just ⅛ inch long with very long antennae and spiked tubes protruding from their back. They have soft bodies and may come in different colors like green, yellow, brown, red, or black. You can usually find them on the underside of a leaf, where they feed. Aphids produce honeydew, which attracts other pests.
- Caterpillars – All the green thumbs in the world cannot stop caterpillars from destroying gardens in a single night. These insects are voracious eaters that will eat foliage, stems, and leaves. They take away the beauty out of our gardens. Caterpillars are harmless to humans though.
- Slugs – Slugs are gray to dark brown in color making them hard to spot in the garden. They are about one inch long. They do not have legs, moving only by gliding using their bellies. Slugs destroy gardens by eating many types of plants. They cause smooth edges and irregular holes on the leaves of plants by scraping them with their tongues. Even though they eat many kinds of plants, succulent plants are their favorite. Slugs can easily clip succulent plants. They are primary pests of herbaceous plants and seedlings. These nocturnal creatures can be dangerous to pets too since they also carry lungworms.
- Mealybugs – These are tiny and fluffy garden pests, almost looking like molds or cotton. They do not seem like living things, but they are and can actually destroy your plants. They attack indoor plants, this way they are also protected from the elements. They are very good at sucking the sap from plants. Mealybugs reproduce quickly.
- Vine weevils – Vine weevils are beetles that attack both indoor and outdoor plants. They are nocturnal and hide in the soil during the day. Vine weevils prefer moist soil, so water the plants only when needed. They eat the leaves of the plants mostly during summer, and they also attack the roots, causing death among plants. Vine weevils put your garden in utter disrepair.
- Cutworms – Cutworms are said to be the most damaging of all garden pests. They are an inch long and are fat. When they are at rest, they curl up. Cutworms attack almost all kinds of plants. Among the plants they eat are cauliflower, beets, kale, broccoli, and cabbage. They also frequently attack turfgrass; the larvae attack the stems, and eventually cut them down.
- Leafminers – These are actually the larvae of different types of flies. Leafminers destroy plants by creating tunnels through leaves and feed on tissues, discoloring the plants. They attack plants like spinach, beets, blueberries, and chard.
- Codlings Moths – Codling moths love apples and are typically seen around them. They destroy apples by chewing and burying themselves in it, then they leave their larvae in the apple’s flesh.
Pesticides: Are they harmful?
Chemical pesticides can affect the environment by polluting it. While its effects can be short-lived, there are chemical residues on the ground and our waterways long after its first application. The effects of chemical pesticides actually build up with each day of use.
When chemical pesticides are applied on a surface, different factors such as the wind, water, or soil tend to spread them out to other areas it was not supposed to reach. This would lead to dangers to human health, plant life, and other beneficial animals and insects.
Chemicals also damage the overall health of the soil; and when the soil is no longer healthy, the plants get damaged and the food that comes from the soil would not be as nutritious as they should be. Chemical pesticides also contaminate the food, and chemical pesticides are never meant to be eaten.
Phytotoxicity can happen to all plants. This is when toxic effects caused by – among others – pesticides that could damage or kill plants. With phytotoxicity, there is a delay in seed germination and plant growth is stunted. Though plants are not supposed to be harmed by the very pesticides that are supposed to protect them, damage can still happen to them.
Misuse of pesticides will have the effect of “burning” the plants. Aside from the chemicals being applied improperly; phytotoxicity can occur even when chemicals are properly applied, but when a spray, dust, or vapor drifts from the targeted plant to a sensitive plant. Residues that accumulate in the soil can also damage the plants.
Plants that suffer from phototoxicity, they may exhibit these signs: plants will suffer poor germination; seedling death; flecks or dead spots on leaves; distorted plants, roots, and leaves; dead spots between the veins of the leaves; dead leaf tips; dead leaf margins; and delayed plant growth.
When using chemical pesticides, always read the label. This is so that you would know which plants you can apply the chemicals to. Some plants are more sensitive to a particular chemical than others. Avoid over-application as well, put in just the right amount. Again, this will be read on the label.
As an alternative to these dangerous chemicals, natural pesticides are now available to control pests in the garden. These are made from home ingredients, friendly to the environment, and natural. This makes them safer for plants. This is not to say that natural pesticides are totally safe; you should still do your own research for the type of natural pesticides that suit your garden.
Among the natural pesticides you can use are neem oil sprays, diatomaceous earth, chili pepper spray, garlic pepper tea spray, tomato leaves spray, and soap spray. Other people encourage predatory insects and animals to get rid of the troublesome pests.
As you can see, it would take lots of hard work. If you do not have much time, do not worry. The best pest control company serving Durham / Cary / Raleigh Since 1959, Go-Forth Pest Control, is just one phone call away to help you with all your pest control needs.
Why Go-Forth Pest Control?
Go-Forth Pest Control brings in a new and fresh approach to the pest control industry, using family-friendly and pet-friendly methods of extermination that caters to your specific needs. Our expert experience in exterminating pests like cockroaches, wasps, weevils, mosquitoes, mice, flies, termites, ants, and spiders can really make you say goodbye to these pests in your home. You may check us on Facebook or Google us to see what our satisfied customers have to say about us.