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Garden pests eating leaves

How to get rid of garden pests naturally

Garden pests can be a significant issue. They can damage your flowers, trees and bushes and, if you are an avid vegetable or fruit grower, valuable crops meant for your own consumption.

Before you start using a chemical pest control product it is important to understand the impact it can have on your family and the environment, especially when used in a small space like your garden.

Chemical options are developed to get rid of pests effectively but there are flow on effects that are unwanted such as leaching into water and soil that can cause both short term and long-term harm depending on the product used.

They also kill insects that are good for the environment and using one of the natural alternatives to manage garden pests is not only good for your family but is much better overall for our environment.

How to keep bugs from eating my plants

A plant with holes eaten by a garden pest

There are many natural solutions that you can use to keep pests away from your garden. Companion planting is an easy way to control unwanted insects, in fact, the plants do it for you. It is the simple concept of placing plants together that naturally deter each other’s pests. It is also an effective way of increasing the amount that can be grown in limited space.

You can add artificial hedge plants, that don’t attract garden pests, to your garden for additional greenery or as effective borders.

Or use a range of insecticides made from organic materials that deter pests but don’t harm your family or the environment. Maybe even a combination of all three options.

We have included some possibilities below:

  1. Tomato Leaves
    Because they are a part of the nightshade family, the leaves can be used to deter aphids and snails. The leaves have tomatine in them and when infused into water and sprayed onto plants it will keep these pests away.
  2. Garlic
    Garlic infused vegetable oil, sprayed on tomatoes will help keep them safe from pests.
  3. Neem oil
    Neem oil is a powerful, natural insecticide. The oil is derived from the roots of the tree and is safe to use around people and pets.
  4. Tobacco
    Organic tobacco, not the processed alternative with added chemicals, can be used as an insecticide especially around nightshades such as eggplant and tomato.
  5. Lemons
    Use the peels from lemons to create a mixture with water that will get rid of ants, slugs and aphids.
  6. Jalapeno Peppers
    Jalapeno peppers, and even other chillies, when boiled in water makes an effective insecticide. Just be careful and use gloves when using this mixture.

8 garden pests to watch out for in Australia

Aphids Aphidoidea garden pest hiding underneath the side of leaves

We have lots of garden pests in Australia that will affect your favourite plants.

We are highlighting 8 here, for a more comprehensive list that includes images to help you identify them follow this garden resource here.

  1. Aphids (Aphidoidea): Aphids have pear shaped bodies, long antennae and, with over 4000 species, a number of different colours. Only about 250 of these species are classified as pests including the cotton and cabbage aphids that are common pests in your garden in Australia. Often, they can be seen on the undersides of leaves and on new growth itself. Other signs include stunted plant growth, leaves that are curled, or growing either yellow or brown.
  2. Christmas Beetle (Anoplognathus pallidicollis): Christmas beetles can be found across Australia. The larvae dwell feed on the roots of grass as they live in the soil however, when they grow to adults, they eat leaves and are especially damaging to eucalyptus trees. They do swarm and can be very damaging to young trees but are generally active only from November to February each year. Leaves being attacked by the Christmas beetle have either a jagged or ripped appearance. Keep an eye out for these pests in your garden they are shiny, approximately 25 cm long and are brown in colour.
  3. Citrus Gall Wasp (Bruchophagus fellis): The citrus gall wasp as its name suggests may attack all types of citrus fruits in Australia, especially the Australian finger lime. Once they hatch, they can weaken trees as they feed off the stem tissue of branches. Usually, they are found near young spring shoots.
  4. European Earwig (Forficula auricularia): The European earwig is different from the native Australian earwig in that it will attack broadacre crops when present in significant numbers. It generally will feed on canola, legumes and cereals but can also be found in flowers, vegetables and fruits. As an omnivore, the Australian earwig is an omnivore and does attack other garden pests. For this reason, it is considered beneficial. So, if you have earwigs in your garden its important to identify the species to know if they are a friend or foe.
  5. Fruit Fly: The fruit fly is capable of infecting different species of both fruit and vegetables and causing widespread damage. There are two types that are pests for growers, and they are the Mediterranean fruit fly and the Queensland fruit fly.
    They lay their eggs under the skin of fruit and the larvae are called maggots. Once they hatch, they eat the fruit and are generally active from September to May.
  6. Grasshoppers: If they are present in large numbers, they can do a lot of damage to your home garden. They feed on grass as well as plant broadleaves and both young and mature grasshoppers are considered garden pests.
  7. Millipedes: Millipedes eat decaying organic matter and the Australian variety is not seen as a pest. However, the Portuguese millipede, introduced to Australia, can demolish seedlings and crops when they are present in large numbers.
  8. Slaters: Slaters are a problem for gardeners when they are in large numbers. Normally they break down organic matter and you will see them in your compost; however, they can pose a threat to seedlings if enough decaying matter is not available.

Up next: What hedging plants do not attract bees or wasps

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