Most people think of pests as creepy insects or animals that can infest your home causing harm to your family or the structural integrity of your house. Although these pests are the most noticeable and alarming to have around your loved ones, they only make up a small percentage of critters that can have negative effect to you and your family. In reality, most pests that can have adverse effects to your family never actually make it inside your home, instead dwelling in your garden potentially damaging valuable food sources.
Now that it is the beginning of the spring season in Mississauga, many homeowners will begin planting fruit and vegetable gardens to enjoy later in the season. It would be a shame to put in so much work this early in the year, only to have it destroyed by unwanted garden pests. To avoid having this catastrophe in your garden, you must incorporate pest control measures around your garden just as you would inside your home.
With so many known garden pests in Mississauga, it can be overwhelming to take measures for preventing all of them from destroying your garden. Here you will find information regarding some of the most common garden pests in Mississauga, including, how to determine if they have infested your garden, how to identify these pests and proven pest control measures to get rid of them.
Preventative Pest Control For Garden Pests
As is the case with any pest control effort that you are going to undertake, the best measure is always preventative action. Before going into detail about common garden pests in Mississauga, read these quick tips on how to prepare your garden in a way that will deter most pests from infesting your garden in the first place.
- Place plants that deter pests in your garden – Placing plants with strong scents in your garden, such as onion and garlic, will confuse pests making it much more difficult for them to sniff out the delicious fruits and vegetables they love to destroy.
- Spice up your garden to deter pests – Make a mixture of hot sauce and water to spray over the plants and soil in your garden. The strong odour from the hot sauce will deter garden pests, including wildlife, from eating any of your plants. Make sure to clean off the spices before eating it yourself.
- Crop rotation between seasons – Most garden pests will return from one season to the next. By rotating your plants from one garden to another, pests from the previous season will find it difficult to survive at the early part of the season, potentially causing them to search out a new food source elsewhere.
Although most slug species will not be a direct threat to the health of your garden, the few species that are known to be garden pests can severely destroy your garden quickly as they eat vegetable and fruit plants. These slug species have actually been considered to be the most troublesome pests for home gardens by several pest control professionals, such as Mother Earth News, due to their ability to go relatively unnoticed and the speed at which they can destroy a crop.
Early warning signs of slugs in your garden
Slugs are very difficult pests to visually notice in your garden because they do not like being exposed to light. They are most active at night and hide in shady areas of the garden during the day making it difficult to notice that they are present. If, however, you find any of the following warning signs, chances are that these pests have infested your garden and should be dealt with immediately:
- Large holes on the leaves of fruit and vegetable plants
- Noticeable damage to low growing plants and seedlings
- Holes in ripened vegetables and fruits
How to identify slugs
Slugs are slow moving pests that have soft and elongated bodies with a slimy coat. They essentially look like snails without the shell and can measure anywhere from half a centimeter to ten centimeters in length. The most common body colour of a slug is brown or grey, with their most obvious feature being three retracting tentacles at the tip of their head which they use to navigate.
Removing slugs from your garden
If you notice these pests in your garden, act quickly to get rid of them as they can destroy your garden in a very short time frame. Here are some proven methods for getting rid of them and deterring them from coming back:
- Strategically place home made traps around your garden using strips of cardboard and cabbage leaves to lure them in or shallow cups of beer where they will drown
- Wait until sunset when they are most active and use a flashlight to hand pick them out of your garden
- Use the help of chickens and ducks who are natural predators of this slimy pest
Another very common garden pest in Mississauga that are known to severely damage the health of home gardens are aphids. These tiny creatures feed on the sap of various garden plants which has a two part diminishing effect on the plants which they eat:
- As they remove sap from plants in your garden, these plants become weaker eventually causing them to die
- Aphid saliva is toxic to the plants they consume, further diminishing the health of your garden
Early warning signs of aphids in your garden
Aphids are also very difficult pests to notice in your garden due to their tiny size and often camouflaged colour. If you notice any of the following events occurring to plants in your garden, you may have an aphid infestation on hand:
- Plants that are growing slower than usual or stunted plant growth
- Plants that are beginning to wilt or turn brown
- Leaves that begin to curl excessively
How to identify aphids
Aphids are tiny pear shaped creatures with small antennae at the tip of their head and a soft body measuring between 1 mm upto 10 mm in length. With over 4,000 aphids species they have a large range of colours, with the most common ones found in Mississauga being green, yellow, red, brown or black.
Removing aphids from your garden
Since they can severely diminish the health of plants in your garden, act quickly if you find these pests lurking. Some proven pest control measures for aphids include:
- For small infestations, introduce a natural predator such as ladybugs to your garden who will gladly eat all the aphids that they come across
- Remove or thoroughly hose down any plants that you notice are heavily infested to take those aphids away from your garden, preventing them from destroying more plants in your garden
Tomato hornworms are a type of garden pests that feeds on specific vegetables including tomato, pepper, potato and eggplant. They are known to be the most detrimental when it comes to these crops so if you have any of these in your garden, keep an eye out for this notorious pest. They are most commonly found near the end of the summer but it can be very difficult to spot them due to their camouflaged colour.
Early warning signs of tomato hornworms in your garden
Because they only attack tomato, pepper, potato and eggplants, keep an eye out for the following warning signs on any of these vegetables:
- Leaves of the above plants being completely consumed
- Noticeable bite marks on the stems of these vegetables
- Small dark green feces left on top of the remaining leaves of these vegetables
How to identify tomato hornworms
Tomato hornworms are a type of caterpillar, in fact, they are most likely the largest caterpillar species you would find in your garden ranging from 3 to 5 inches in length. Even though they are large, they are difficult to spot due to their bright green coat which allows them to camouflage with the foliage in your garden. Another distinguishing feature of this pest is 7 white stripes that circly their body and a red horn like body part at the rear end of their bodies.
Removing tomato hornworms from your garden
If you have visually spotted one of these pests or notice any of the warning signs listed above, follow these tips to exterminate them from your garden:
- Refrain from killing beneficial pests that feed on tomato hornworms and their larvae. Some of these pests include wasps and ladybugs
- Carefully look for them hiding under leaves and handpick them out of your garden. Place them in a bowl of water and soap to kill them ensuring that they do not return
- Till the soil in your garden once the season is done to destroy any larvae they may have left behind for the next season