With recent rains and the sudden spike in temperature, we’ve received quite a few calls about how to deal with garden pests. Texas is certainly known for its critters, big and small, but harsh chemicals are not always the answer.
Its important to think of your yard as an ecosystem. You depend on it for beauty, recreation, to add value to your property. If you have pets its also their home and play area. Then there are the native wildlife, beneficial insects, and the many streams, aquifers, and water sources that are connected to it. That’s why its so important to be smart about how we deal with pests, so we can avoid poisoning our pets and other beneficial critters or contaminating our water supply.
The first thing you need to determine is do you really have an infestation, or did you just notice one or two pests that you’d rather do without. If your yard is healthy, those bad bugs won’t last long as they fall prey to beneficial insects like ladybugs or get eaten by birds. If you truly have an infestation, there is a process to follow.
- Determine the infection level. If the bugs have only latched on to one plant, it may be best to sacrifice that one plant, remove it from your yard, and replace it with a healthier one.
- Identify the reasons for the sudden infestation. Often it’s a sign of a bigger problem like unhealthy plants are an imbalance in your yard’s ecosystem. Are your plants healthy? Are there any natural predators around to manage the pest problem?
- Start with the least toxic options first. The City of Austin has a handy guide that shows the common treatments available and their toxicity to mammals, fish, bugs, and birds. You can also talk to your lawn care provider and see if they are educated on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and ask them for assistance.
- Once the problem is under control, put a plan in place to keep it from happening again.
Bottom line yes bugs aren’t our favorite things, but they are part of our ecosystem. So we do have to deal with them—to an extent. We just have to make sure that we do it in a way that is both considerate of our larger community and that truly gets to the heart of the big problem.