It’s August and gardens are at their apex. Long days of warmth and sunshine mean your vines are heavy with tomatoes, your zucchinis are doubling in size over night, and your flower beds are a rainbow of delight.
All this life and vigor may be accompanied by some unwelcome pests.
Pests in the landscape can be discouraging. They sneak up on you: one minute your crop is thriving, and then suddenly you spot holes, wilting or the pests themselves. If gardening isn’t your field of expertise, you may have trouble identifying the pests or knowing what the best next step is. Your local extension service is a fantastic resource when you’re confronting a pest problem. If you want to try solving your pest problem yourself, start with this site: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/
Here’s their mission, serving both commercial and home growers:
University of Minnesota Extension offers a wide variety of information on both helpful and harmful insects and spiders, how to identify insect damage on plants, and prevention and control of common household insects. They offer a helpful list of the insects you’re likely to confront each month. This August, the stars are: Japanese beetles, spotted wing drosophila, springtails, ticks and mosquitoes. For each insect, follow the link and learn how to identify it, what kind of damage it does, and many ways of controlling it, ranging from pesticides to non-chemical to cultural control.
Not sure what bug is bugging you? Check out the University of Minnesota Extension diagnostic tools. Click on “what is this insect” to identify the bug you’ve spotted, and “what’s wrong with my plant” identify the source of the spot, hole, wilt or leaf curl that is presenting in your garden.
Be sure to check the “Yard and Garden News” section, where they post articles on current gardening issues. For example, a very helpful article about Japanese beetles was posted in early July–check it out if they are a problem for you. In it, they discuss various pesticides and physical approaches to controlling the Japanese beetle, such as traps and barriers. You can also ask questions directly, by phone or email. The email form allows you to attach up to three photographs illustrating your problem.
At McDonough, we’re very familiar with the usual suspects, and we’re happy to consult with you and take over the pest control if that’s what you’d like. However, if you’re a do-it-yourself type, the internet is a tremendous resource, especially a well-researched and knowledgeable site like University of Minnesota Extension.
The most important tip is: don’t delay. Pest problems can escalate overnight, just like those zucchinis. The sooner you identify the problem and take steps to deal with it, the smaller the problem will be. Some pests, like the Japanese beetle, are prone to coming back year after year, so nipping problems in the bud is really important.