DIY insect control
January is a fantastic time to be out in the garden as summer veggies are really flourishing at their best. Unfortunately this means that there's also a whole host of unhelpful insects out there who also want a piece of the garden action. We like using home made pest control remedies because they're generally safer on humans, pets and our environment, plus they're pretty inexpensive to make. Here's a list of simple DIY remedies to help keep those pesky buggers under control:
Aphids: Blast aphid-affected plants with a hose and spray with diluted non-toxic dishwashing liquid afterwards. Repeat daily until aphids do not appear anymore.
Soft bodied insects - larvae/aphids/caterpillars: Try a garlic and chilli spray by adding 1 tsp crushed garlic, 1 tsp chilli flakes or chopped fresh chilli, 1 tsp mild dishwashing detergent, 1 tsp neutral oil to 1 litre water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then let the mixture steep overnight. Strain into a spray bottle and apply directly onto any bugs.
Caterpillars: Removing caterpillars by hand can be very effective if you only have a small area to control. Otherwise try a garlic based spray. If things are really bad you could try a neem oil spray which inhibits lymphatic systems or bacillus thuringiensis (sold as Dipel) - a naturally occurring bacteria that produces a gut paralysing protein.
Earwigs: Acton Community Garden's Zoe says earwigs are attracted to light sources and will subsequently eat everything nearby, however earwigs can be trapped by placing a cup of oil near any light.
Snails and slugs (not insects but pesky molluscs): speaking of liquid traps, we find the old beer in a cup trick works really well for keeping slugs and snails at bay - they just can't get enough of the yeast! Simply dig small bowls or cups into your garden bed so the cups are level with the rest of the garden bed. Fill with beer (or a strong mixture of yeast and water) and empty as needed. Roughly crushed egg shells around the base of crops also help to deter slugs and snails. Garlic spray is also said to provide a powerful sting to these slimy pests. Snails and slugs make wonderful treats for chooks.
Stink bugs can be controlled by flicking bugs into a solution of warm soapy water and the bugs will sink as they die. It's a bit time consuming but repeat this for a few days in a row for the best chances of controlling stink bug populations.
Attract beneficial bugs such as lady beetles and lacewigs by planting parsley, dill and lots of alliums such as leeks, chives, spring onion, garlic. Predatory insects are said to be attracted to umbel shaped flowers (when the flower stalk radiates from a central point) produced by these plants. Spraying your garden with a mixture of yeast spread (such as vegemite) and lots of water will also help to attract lacewigs.