With the summer gardening season here, it’s time for a refresher on common pests and problems that plague residents of southern Alberta. Keeping these pests in check is one of the keys to enjoying a beautiful garden all summer long.
Sock It to Slugs
Garden slugs came to North America from Europe, and one of the reasons they’ve taken such a strong foothold is a lack of local natural predators. If you have a problem with slugs in your garden, here are some easy ways to fix that problem:
- Dig a narrow, shallow ditch, then add some beer. While you might feel like this is a waste of suds, your garden will thank you. Slugs will be drawn to the beer, fall in the ditch and drown.
- Keeping the peel in one piece, remove the rind from half a grapefruit and place it in your garden upside-down at night. In the morning, you’ll find slugs trapped underneath it.
- Spread diatomaceous earth near your prized plants. It repels slugs.
- Ferric phosphate is completely non-toxic…unless you’re a slug. This is a very effective solution if you’re looking to avoid harmful chemicals.
Like slugs, aphids are nocturnal pests that can cause destructive infestations. Reduced growth rates and yellow, wilted leaves signal their presence.
Lacewing and ladybugs are natural predators of aphids, so introducing them to your garden will help keep the problem under control. Beyond that, a good botanical insecticide will usually do the trick.
Ward Off Ants
Ant infestations are something most homeowners have to deal with at some point. When they occur, you have two choices:
- Kill them off. A homemade mixture of water and boric acid is an effective, low-cost insecticide for ants, which kills them when they drink it. Alternately, you’ll find plenty of products at your local home improvement retailers.
- Change the environment. A more humane approach is to change the conditions so the ants choose to pack up and move. Talcum powder and diatomaceous earth both work well when poured on ant nests, as does a good old-fashioned pot of boiling water.
The Dreaded Red Lily Beetle
The red lily beetle is a relatively new arrival to southern Alberta and Calgary, and these pests can absolutely destroy lilies. It’s important to take action early, so remember that adults can wake up from winter as early as April. Female red lily beetles lay their crimson or orange eggs well into June, which they usually deposit on the bottom sides of lily leaves.
Fight back by making regular checks to see if there are any signs of these eggs, or of hatched larvae. You can pick them off by hand, and experts recommend dropping them into a bucket filled with soapy water. Once again, diatomaceous earth is an excellent natural remedy, as it will dry out these beetles’ bodies and kill them off. Put it directly onto their bodies if you have a severe problem.
Fight Back Against Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes don’t generally cause big problems for plants, but they can make gardening — or even being outside — unpleasant during the summer months. They thrive in environments with large collections of standing water, so emptying barrels and preventing puddles will help prevent them from turning your yard into a breeding ground.
Alternately, you could build and fill a birdbath. While this does introduce standing water, it also attracts birds, and birds eat mosquitoes. Bug zappers, tiki torches, citronella oil, and misting systems all work well, and be sure your window screens are secure and intact.
Sometimes, it can be tricky to tell if plants in your yard and garden are problematic weeds or not. For a quick refresher, consult our detailed guide on Calgary’s most common weeds.
Remember, too, that aerating and fertilizing early in the season will help prevent weed growths all summer long.
Southeast Calgary Landscaping: Problems for the Pros
Wasp and hornet nests can be very dangerous, and it isn’t a good idea to try to remove them yourself. This is a job best left to the pros, so don’t hesitate to call on Mirage Landscaping if you need help managing these or any other garden pests.
Mirage Landscaping is a family-owned company that specializes in serving southeast Calgary home and business owners. Check out our portfolio of past projects, then contact us to get a custom estimate for your landscaping needs.