What’s Bugging you this Summer?
With so much going on around us, our gardens have become our haven of quiet and distraction. We’ve seen an incredible increase in new gardeners in the horticulture industry as well as the garden gurus who have been up for the challenge for many years. This season there seems to be a lot more things ‘bugging’ us in the garden, and likely more of us are talking about it. Online forums, garden chats and our phone lines and emails are full of inquiries about various pest problems growing on among our precious plants.
There seems to be an increase in good bugs, as well as the bad and the bugly. The good guys are the pollinators that help our gardens grow – leaf cutter bees, bumble bees, honey bees and butterflies; and the beneficial insects that help us control the bad bugs – aphids, lacewings, ground beetles, (spiders), nematodes and parasitic wasps. Attracting these good guys to your gardens are as easy as providing food, water and shelter for them; create gardens that have some of their favourite foods (early spring bloomers, nectar producers, herbs, etc), add bee houses, keep leaf litter available in early spring until the soil warms up and provide a water source. Be aware that if you have to resort to using chemicals to combat a pest problem you may also be killing off your beneficial insects.
So back to the bugly situation we have going on this summer…why does it seem like there is more than usual. The bad bugs will attack plants that are in stress; a healthy lawn, tree or garden environment can generally withstand the battle of the bugs. The 2021 garden season began with a very cool spring, uneven temperatures and when finally, things seemed to be pulling through we had a heat wave (or two) thrown our way, along with a heavy veil of smoke (causes a reduction in photosynthesis). Unless you have been very diligent in providing even and consistent moisture, fertilizing and maintain all of your garden plants most are likely going through some drought stress.
This season has seen several of the usual pest problems although more wide spread such as red lily beetle, caterpillars, spider mites, aphids, and birch leafminer to name a few. Lawns are definitely suffering the effects of drought (dormant brown, weed invasion and ants) but we’re also seeing white grubs and sod webworm showing up more. Boxelder bugs, saskatoon lace bugs, oystershell scale, poplar borer and eriophyid mites are other tree and shrub pests that we’ve seen more of this year.
As you wander through your gardens to admire your progress and blooms, remember to take a good look at your trees and shrubs and veggie gardens. Sometimes damage is visible (chewed, discolored, dying leaves) but most often you may have to check closely, look on the underside of leaves and generally pay attention to the overall health of every corner of your garden. A small problem can become a big problem in a very short time.
The good, the bad and the bugly critters are all part of our gardens ecosystem and while we can get frustrated by the challenges that keep being thrown at us, as many prairie gardeners can attest – when we do have success, it is so worth it!
Keep growing and enjoy the rest of your summer!