During the first warm days of spring, bugs are not always the first thing on your mind. They haven’t yet made the forceful appearance they’ll make in the summer, so it’s easy to get a false sense of security about these little pests. But don’t be fooled – they’re coming, and it’s a good idea to be prepared.
Here are some tips and ideas for early spring pest control in your garden.
One of the primary ways these chubby, hairless bugs make their way into the garden is by coming up out of the soil where they spent the winter. They are moths as adults, so these larvae are ready to eat early in spring. To keep cutworms from feasting on your tender young plants, you can make a protective collar out of plastic cups or cardboard. Push it about an inch into the soil all around the plant, and make sure it’s about 3 inches high. This acts as a barrier and foils the cutworm.
2. Leaf Miners
The evidence of leaf miners is obvious – thin, curved, winding tunnels going through the leaves. These tunnels contain the tiny white larvae. Leaf miners come up from the soil as flies, and they lay their eggs on leaves. To help deter these critters, make sure your garden is free of weeds – leaf miners love certain weeds such as chickweed, and the presence of weeds will attract them.
If you’re early enough in the season, you can cover your plants with specially made covers that will keep the flies from laying their eggs on your plants. You only have to keep these covers in place during the early weeks when the flies are active.
3. Slugs and Snails
Dusting your garden with diatomaceous earth can help deter slugs and snails. And there are also several commercial brands of slug and snail control. Iron phosphate is said to be the best active ingredient in such products, and many are safe to have around pets and kids.
4. Rotate Your Crops
One of the things that happen when you plant the same things year after year is, word gets around. Pests learn what and where the goodies are, and they line up to munch! Changing crops year to year keeps pests guessing a bit.
If you have ever thought about keeping chickens and it’s allowed in your area, now is the time! Chickens are a great way to control pests in the garden in early spring, when they can join you while you turn the soil and expose the pests. In addition, they help fertilize the soil. You could borrow a neighbor’s chickens if you can’t keep your own. You will need to have a fence later in the year, though, because chickens will also damage your plantings and vegetables.
Taking some measures to control pests in early spring can save a lot of trouble and headache later on.