It’s autumn, and pests are creeping around – and no, it’s not your annoying next-door neighbor. Spurred on by the cooler weather, those nuisances can lurk in dark corners of your house, or scuttle around your garden, finding purchase on your crops. From stink bugs to spiders and moles, below are a few autumn pests to watch out for, including several strategies you can use to protect your home and garden from these unwanted house guests.
Eco-Friendly Way to Get Rid of Pests
Forewarned is forearmed – the first line of defense is to deny entry to those unwanted insects by sealing up any openings. Sweep any derelict area clean of debris to prevent any pests from overwintering and remove any diseased plants from your garden. As always, eco-friendly methods of pest control are encouraged. While chemical treatments may provide quick, short-term relief, the long-term effects are often detrimental. Structural barriers, companion planting, and physical removal are more sustainable options for long-term control. A spinosad-based product can deal with extreme infestations when all else fails.
Spiders are among some of the most reviled creatures in the garden, and their bulbous bodies and abundance of legs certainly doesn’t help. Spider season strikes at the start of September, as soon as overnight temperatures drop, which explains the prevalence of spiders in many homes. More lackadaisical types may choose to deal with this kind of nuisance by leaving them alone; others take more stringent measures by exterminating them once and for all.
Those that do not like this free Halloween decoration are advised to seal any cracks in windows, vents or doorways using caulk. Cinnamon sticks, citrus peels, and sprays made from peppermint oil and water can also help deter them from your premises – as do live mints. Vego’s Herb Garden Bed Kit allows for plenty of space to grow mints, especially some of the more invasive spreaders.
2. Cabbage Loopers
The seemingly innocuous cabbage looper is a voracious eater, with an indiscriminate appetite for cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnips and other members of the cabbage family, though they are not limited to just cool-season cole crops. Caterpillars are light green, with a narrow white stripe down their back. Named due to their looping gait, cabbage loopers leave irregular holes in the foliage, which can become ruinous when left unchecked.
If pulling them off by hand doesn’t mitigate the damage, an application of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can help. Because of their slowness, they make easy targets for birds and beneficial insects. Those can be attracted by growing certain plants such as dill, sweet alyssum, marigolds, and calendula. Row covers can prevent moths from laying eggs among the plants as well as diminish aphids and cabbage looper damage.
3. Stink Bugs
Offensive odors are a virtually foolproof way to drive away anything in the immediate vicinity, and it is a tactic that stink bugs use without inhibitions. When they do congregate, they emit another pheromone that is scentless to humans. Temporary relief can be provided by vacuuming stink bugs, as long as you don’t keep them in there too long. You can also manually remove them by placing a container of soapy water underneath them and shaking them into the container.
4. Moles and Gophers
The weather may be chilly, but that doesn’t mean those warm-blooded pests aren’t on the prowl. Both gophers and voles will burrow deep into the ground, rooting for sustenance. Often attracted to soil rife with grubs, moles will dig deep for grubs. However, eliminating grubs won’t eliminate moles, as they will expand their diet to include other carnivorous sources. Gophers are herbivores and subsist on roots, tubers, and grasses. While temporary gopher traps can discourage them, a sturdy gopher net will act as a more permanent barrier against moles and other borrowing animals.
5. Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle
Consider yourself lucky if you have an Asian lady beetle infestation as opposed to more noxious varmints. Apart from the occasional bite, they are mostly harmless – and are in fact beneficial in the garden, where they prey on aphids. However, they will emit a stinky secretion known as reflex bleeding when threatened. Like an off-brand version of the ladybug, lady beetles come in less vibrant colors of orange, rusty red, or even tan. They can be distinguished from ladybugs by a telltale “M” symbol on their head. As with spiders, deter them by sealing up any cracks. Mums and citronella oil can also deter them from your house.
With summer’s end, slugs make a rebound, slowing plodding along trails crowded with leaf litter. Though there are several methods to get rid of slugs, one old-school remains the simplest: picking them by hand. Venture out after dusk with a torch and pluck them off leaves, soapy bucket at ready. If hunting for slugs does not sound exciting, then you can set slug traps or invite beneficial wildlife and get them to do it for you.
A rat king is probably one of the gruesome discoveries one can make, consisting of a miasma of rats that become tangled at their tails. Not only are rat kings considered ill omens, but they are also disgusting to look at. Though rat kings are an incredibly rare phenomenon, rats are not. During autumn or winter, they will often squeeze into your home, seeking attics, lofts, or garages. If your house cat has become indolent and is of no help, then it’s time to buy some rat poison and spring some traps. Pest control companies can also help cease existing rodent activity once it becomes catastrophic enough.
8. Colorado Potato Beetle
Despite its name, the Colorado potato beetle is not restricted to only the state of Colorado, and continues to plague potatoes, tomatoes, and other crops in the nightshade family. Once they gain a foothold, it can be difficult to get rid of those pernicious pests. Introduced early, Bt can be effective; otherwise, vacuums, flame torches, and neem oil are recommended.