If we can garden without pests that attack plants, then gardening is indeed an easy thing. But at all times we must be on the lookout for these little foes who are small in size, but overwhelming in the havoc they wreak.
Since human diseases can often be prevented by healthy conditions, pests can be kept away with strict garden hygiene. Piles of garbage become a breeding ground for insects. I don’t think a compost heap will do any harm, but unkempt, unkempt spots seem to invite trouble.
There is some help to keep pests down. The constant stirring of soil by earthworms is an aid in keeping the soil open to air and water. Many of our common birds eat insects. Sparrows, robins, chickadees, prairie larks, and orioles are examples of birds that help in this way. Some insects eat other insects and are dangerous. Some types of ladybugs do this good deed. Ichneumon flies also help. And the toads are marvels in the number of insects they can consume in one meal. Toads deserve very good treatment from all of us.
Every gardener should try to make his garden an attractive place for birds and frogs. A good birdcage, seed sown in early spring, a watering place, is an invitation for birds to stay for a while in your garden. If you want a toad, fix that too. During hot summer days, frogs like to rest in the shade. At night it is ready to go out to eat but not to kill, because toads prefer live food. How to “fix” a toad? Well, one thing to do is prepare a resting place, quiet, dark and damp. Some rocks of a certain size in the shade of a bush with perhaps a carpet of damp leaves, will appear very smooth to the frog.
There are two general classes of insects that are known by their mode of action. One type of gnawing at the plant actually takes the pieces into its system. This type of insect has a mouth that is just right to do this job. Grasshoppers and caterpillars belong to this type. The other species suck the juice from the plant. This is, in some ways, the worst kind. Plant lice are included here, as well as mosquitoes, which prey on us. All scale insects bind to plants, and suck up plant life.
Now can we fight these guys? People who gnaw can be caught with poison sprayed on the plant, which they carry into their bodies with the plant. Bordeaux mixture which is a poison is sprayed on plants for this purpose.
In other cases, the only thing is to attack the insect directly. So certain insecticides, as they are called, are sprayed onto plants to fall on insects. They do a deadly job of attacking, one way or another, the bodies of insects.
Sometimes we are bothered a lot by underground insects at work. You have seen a garden overgrown with ant hills. Here are the remedies, but one of them you should be careful of.
This question is constantly being asked, ‘How can I tell which insect is doing the destructive work?’ Well, you can tell part of the work being done, and part of it by looking at the insects themselves. This last point is not always easy to achieve. I had cutworms one season and never saw one. I only see the work done. If the stems of soft plants are cut clean, make sure the cut worms are overseas. What does he look like? Well, that’s a tough question because his family is big. If you occasionally see a gray caterpillar, you may know that it is a pinworm. But because of his habit of resting on the ground during the day and working at night, it was difficult to see him. Cut worms are around the start of the season ready to cut off the hyacinth flower stalks. When the peas came a little later, he was ready for them. An excellent way to get in the way is to place a paper collar, or one from a can, around the plant. This collar should be about an inch from the plant.
Of course, plant lice are more common. What we often see is green. But they may be red, yellow or brown. Ticks are quite easy to find because they are always attached to their hosts. As sucking insects, they have to stick near plants for food, and people will surely find them. But the biting insects do their job, and then hide. That makes them much more difficult to deal with.
Rose snails do great damage to rose bushes. They eat the body of the leaf, leaving only the veins. They are soft-bodied, green on