COMMON GARDEN PESTS IN OREGONThe Pacific Northwest is lucky enough to be spared from the nastiest of garden pests. Still, we do have our fair share of critters that chomp off house plants and cause significant damage in lawns and gardens. Here are some of the common garden pests Oregon homeowners often have to deal with.
Slugs & Snails
The frequent rain and naturally damp, cool soils of Oregon create an ideal haven for slugs and snails that will eat up almost all types of tender vegetative growth. Slugs and snails aren’t choosy and will not limit their menu to a certain family of plants. They feed heavily when the weather is cool, rainy, or overcast and much slug damage is seen during the spring. Telltale signs of slug and snail damage are ragged holes anywhere on the leaves of your plants. Reflective trails of dried slime, as well as traces of small, moist, and greenish-brown slug frass or poop, can also confirm their presence in your garden. There are various organic garden pest control methods that will help eradicate slugs and snails for the long term.
Aphids can literally suck the life out of plants with their piercing mouthparts. They feed off leaves, stems, branches, barks, buds, flowers and even root tissues on trees, shrubs, and ornamentals. These small, soft-bodied insects are oval or pear-shaped and vary in color from green, pink, yellow, and black, usually matching the color of their host plants. Aphids feed in colonies and are mostly attracted to succulent plant tissues in young plants. Trees, shrubs and mature plants are more likely to survive an aphid attack. Still, their health and vigor may be compromised since aphids are vectors of viruses and diseases. Organic garden pest control treatments can prevent infestations and save the health of your plants.
Lace bugs are a relatively new pest in the Pacific Northwest. Their presence in Oregon was first confirmed just over a decade ago in 2009 but the damage they have brought to yards and gardens has been quite significant. Don’t be fooled by their lacey and delicate appearance—these bugs may be small and lightweight but they actually pack a punch! Lace bugs can suck the sap out of plants as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They are known to have a preference for evergreen and deciduous trees as well as shrubs like azaleas and rhododendrons. If your plants are looking a little pale and chlorotic, you may have a lace bug problem already and may need organic garden pest control to keep them in check.
Beetle grubs in Oregon are mostly larvae of the Japanese beetle which is known to forage on leaves, flowers, berries and fruit of more than 300 species of plants. Japanese beetles are quite destructive in multiple life stages. Immature beetle grubs typically feed on the roots of grasses and create dead areas of turf by limiting the plant’s ability to take in water. Adults, on the other hand, feed on leaves and create a pattern known as “skeletonizing” which results in defoliation. Defoliated plants lose their ability to photosynthesize and are more susceptible to stress, disease and even death. Roses are particularly at risk so organic garden pest control may be needed to eradicate this invasive pest.
Ticks & Fleas
Flea and tick season in Oregon usually begins in spring and moves through the summer until early fall. But just because you don’t see them around doesn’t mean they’re not present and ready to latch on your pets. The fact is, ticks and fleas can live year-round in Oregon’s moderate climate and survive outdoor temperatures as low as 33°F for up to five days. They become active when temperatures hit the 40s and their eggs may be found throughout the year in more protected areas of your home like porches, patios and crawl spaces. Ticks and fleas carry diseases like ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease so it’s best to employ organic pest control measures to eradicate them from your home.
The symptoms of powdery mildew are quite distinctive so it’s one of the easier plant diseases to catch. White powdery spots on stems and leaves are usually a telltale sign, with lower leaves being the most compromised in infected plants. Powdery mildew, however, can affect any above-ground section of plants and typically drift into a garden with the wind. Cases of powdery mildew infestation are higher late in the summer growing season, especially when the nights are cooler and the atmosphere gets damp. Powdery mildew slows down growth and may reduce quality and yield in fruit-bearing plants so it is advisable to use organic garden pest control measures to prevent severe infections.
Pest Prevention In Organic Garden Pest ControlA healthy garden is undoubtedly the best defense against common garden pests. The easiest way to protect your plants from insect damage is to employ organic garden pest control measures that discourage garden pests from finding their way into your garden. However, this is easier said than done and in most cases, lawns and gardens in most homes will occasionally have pests in them. Here are some pest prevention tips that can help you succeed in organic garden pest control:
1. Dispose or pull out infected plants as they will attract more pests and contaminate healthy plants.
Infected plants that can still be saved may be moved to a quarantine area for proper treatment.
2. Weeds, dead leaves and branches attract insects and will make a good breeding ground for most pests.
Clean your yard and garden of debris to minimize insect habitat.
3. Water your plants early in the day so foliage dries up faster.
Wet foliage increases your chances of having fungal disease and insect damage. You may also opt for drip irrigation as part of your organic garden pest control program to deliver water to plant root systems while keeping foliage dry.
4. Disinfect all tools and equipment when doing yard work in a garden with pest-infected plants.
Sanitation is crucial in organic garden pest control to prevent contamination and transfer of invading insects.
5. Be aware that pests and diseases can be transported into your garden from an outside source.
Purchase your plants and soil amendments only from trusted sources to make sure any new introductions into your garden are free of pests and diseases.
6. Minimize plant disturbance to prevent the introduction of soil-borne pests and ramp up the presence of beneficial microbes in your soil.
With organic garden pest control, you can also build healthier soil using mulching and natural composting methods. Top-dress your soil regularly to make plants stronger, vigorous and more resistant to pests and diseases.
7. Have a healthy plant mix in your garden.
Insects and garden pests are usually plant-specific and are less likely to spread when you interplant and rotate plantings. Organic garden pest control approaches like this help a lot in preventing re-infestations of garden pests that may have overwintered in your soil bed.