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Common Garden Pests

Posted on 16 January 2011

May 11th, 2010
by Mark Forester for the Landscape Network

Garden pests are the natural consequence of growing your own fruits and vegetables. Animals of all sizes are likely to enjoy your produce just as much as you will, so you must remain ever-vigilant. The best way to stop pests is to know when you might have a potential pest problem on your hands. By having foreknowledge of common garden pests in Colorado, you can stop a pest problem before it starts.

Generally speaking, caterpillars are particularly dangerous visitors to your garden. Caterpillars are some of the most common garden pests in the springtime. Hornworms are a particularly annoying caterpillar species for gardens. Tomatoes are the favorite of hornworms, so check your tomato plants regularly. Tomato hornworms are hard to spot without careful investigation the tomatoes themselves. These garden pests have voracious appetites, and can make short work of your tomatoes. Thankfully, hornworms can be eliminated easily by physically removing them from the plants and tossing them in a bucket of water.

Other kinds of caterpillars can be similarly dispatched, although insecticide might be preferable if you’re dealing with a large scale caterpillar invasion. Be mindful of some types of caterpillars who have spikes or spines on them, as these common garden pests will cause a nasty sting. Exterminate these bugs with chemicals for sure.

However, although caterpillars are physically the largest insect threat to your fruits and vegetables, smaller insects may pose an even greater threat. Psyllids are stealthy garden pests, and their small size can assist them in destroying your garden without you even realizing it. These tiny lice hop from plant to plant, targeting a particular species of plant in your garden until they’ve had their fill. These bugs tend to travel in large groups.

Psyllids tend to feast on the underside of leaves, and will drastically stunt the growth of small plants. The chemicals they secrete to digest their food will often cause imbalances in the plant. Any fruits that come from a plant effected by psyllids most likely develop an unpleasant taste or texture. These are not the most common garden pests in most of Colorado, but they’ve been appearing with greater frequency in the last few years.

Field mice are another pest to watch out for. Colorado is home to lots of open land, which leads to many rodents searching for things to eat. Field mice start to emerge from hibernation as winter turns to spring, so they’re a common garden pest especially in warmer months. Mice are pretty indiscriminate about what foods they’ll eat, so a garden with many different types of growing fruits and vegetables is likely to look like a buffet to a hungry mouse. Mice will often snatch up smaller fruits, such as berries and small tomatoes, back to their young. Mice and other rodent pests are most active at night, so you might never see them infiltrate your garden.

It’s best to use insecticide or rodent deterrent pre-emptively if at all possible. Many major hardware and lawn and garden stores sell pest control products especially geared for use outside. These can be applied before you actually have a pest problem, saving you a great deal of hassle. Most common garden pests are frustrating to get rid of once they’ve taken over your garden. Be sure to routinely check your garden for signs that pests might be eating your produce.

All things considered, this is a fantastic choice for any landscape. Dogwoods can be used to break up harsh lines created by structures, as property line dividers, encourage birds and other wildlife, and the blooms they provide each spring are absolutely gorgeous. Just remember this hot tree really actually likes to stay cool.
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