How to Identify and Remove Common Garden Pests

Humans can't avoid getting ill, and plants can't escape pests and diseases. Fortunately, most can be countered or minimized by organic or inorganic means and, except in rare cases, the garden will continue to look amazing.
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Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Preventing Attacks

Selective biological control involves watering pathogenic nematodes (microscopic animals) into potting mix, when it is at a certain temperature, to kill vine weevils and slugs (don't use in conjunction with chemical controls). Other biological controls are available for red spider mite, whitefly and aphids.

Chemical Controls

Use chemicals only when really necessary (not for minor infestations at the end of summer, for example). Select the appropriate product, follow the manufacturer's instructions, store safely, keep away from children, never mix with other chemicals and use in the early evening or morning on windless days.

Encouraging Friendly Predators

Rather than using chemicals, which can enter and poison the food chain, create sites for wildlife, such as ladybugs, frogs and birds, which eat slugs, aphids and other undesirables. Infestations won't be wiped out instantly, as with chemicals, but you should notice the effects in the long term.

Thrips

Also called thunderflies, these tiny, black, narrow sap-sucking insects strike in hot, dry conditions causing silver-whitish mottling.

Vine Weevils

Fat, whitish, legless subsoil larvae with brown heads that eat a plant's roots, causing death. The adults are black beetles.

Leaf Miners

The mine — the white or brown dried-up part of the leaf — is caused by larvae of flies. They attack chrysanthemums and related plants.

Red Spider Mites

Minuscule spider mites (reddish in winter) appear in warm, dry conditions, under the leaves, which turn yellowish white.

Lily Beetles

Easy-to-spot bright red beetles with black heads, found on lilies and fritillaries. It is a recent arrival from Europe.

Caterpillars

The larvae of moths and butterflies. Most caterpillars feed on leaves, but some attack stems and roots as well.

Scale Insects

Tiny brown or grayish white, sap-feeding insects, found on foliage and stems. Some excrete a sticky honeydew.

Aphids

Small sap-sucking insects that multiply rapidly, stunting growth. Act quickly because they reproduce at an alarming rate.

Slugs and Snails

Inescapable, slimy, night-feeding mollusks that chomp through soft new stems, flowers and leaves, and destroy seedlings.