Pest Patrol

Our visitors describe how they deal with pesky critters.

Editors Note: Every Tuesday -- more or less -- we post a new Garden Question of the Week and invite you to respond. After a couple of weeks, we gather the best responses and put them here, in our regular Tuesday garden feature article. Wanna play?

Click here to go to this week's question

This week's featured responses are to:

Pest Patrol

. . . in which we asked what pests have shown up in your garden this summer, and how have you dealt with them? Here's our pick of the crop:


The cucumber beetles have really done a number on my flowers this year. They get insidethe roses and the daylilies and they chew, chew, chew until there's not much of a flower left. They also like petunias. I've been trying to keep them under control with just picking them off by hand. They're about to get the best of me.


Our lush but small garden occasionally has a problem with slugs and snails. Ourfavorite solution? Almost every evening we tour the garden, flashlights in hand. We checkfavorite slug and snail hideouts, like along the foundation and under low-growing plants and ground covers. We collect from two or three to as many as a dozen a night. We dispose of them quickly -- squish! -- and into the trash (salt seems too slow and gruesome). Since we have pets and grandchildren, we try not to use poisons unless desperate. An extra bonus: A moonlight stroll in the garden is kind of romantic.

Janice, OH

When the surrounding crops a re harvested, all the insects seem to migrate out of the neighboring fields into our yard. This year when the spelt was harvested, our flowerbeds were all chewed up almost overnight by grasshoppers. There wasn't much warning, so we are just living with the result. I have been told that grasshoppers are worse during and after droughts, so it makes sense we have a lot.


Japanese beetles made their second appearance in our area this summer. Coupled with an earlier infestation of starlings, we were rather inundated with things we'd rather not have. However, we found the starlings were actually acting as a beneficial! One of our neighbors puts out bread for the birds, which makes me wild. She was having no damage from beetles. I watched as the starlings dined on the creeps. I scattered some bread in my yard for just enough days to bring in the starlings and English sparrows, and that was that. No Japanese beetle had a chance to inflict major damage. The idea of bread as an attractant spread throughout our neighborhood, and the beetle population took a definite downward turn. A few weeks later, the beetles were gone, as were the starlings and most of the sparrows. We had been spending way too much money on neem oil to begin a futile control of the beetles, but next year we will just buy a loaf of bread! After years of wondering what in the world I had ever done to deserve starlings, it is nice to know that they can be nice guys.


This time of year brings out the yellow jackets and it drives us crazy! We can barely eat outdoors due to their desire to dine with us. I have tried the yellow syrupy-sugar mixtures in commercial traps, but have snared only a few. I'm told mild winters do not kill the hibernating larvae so we're stuck . . .


I scatter broken eggshells around my plants so the slugs can't get at them. It's likecrawling through broken glass so the slugs stay away.

Tammy in Indiana

I firmly believe in using no chemicals at all in our gardens. I haven't had to useanything except a blast of water or hand picking to rid my garden of pests. If you usechemicals to kill the "bad bugs," then of course it will kill the "goodbugs" too. I plant my gardens and yard to attract birds, frogs, birds, snakes, etc. I make sure I have a cozy spot for the frogs to stay in my water garden. I have at least oneor two garden spiders on my front porch, in my houseplants, that stay all summer long, helping to keep the bugs in their place. Our three sons know that these creatures live andbelong here too, so no one bothers them. Well, sometimes the cat does.


We have had both snails and now gophers that are really tearing up parts of the yard. Since we have flowering verbena on our side hill, it was difficult to identify the culpritas plants were eaten half down or gone with no trace! We then discovered several holes along our fence and discovered that piles of dirt were turning up in the verbena. We finally went to a neighbor who set a trap -- and we have been eliminating them one byone since then.

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