Fall is the time of the year when gardeners tend to have a little more time to breathe. Plants need less irrigation, temperatures are not as high and many pests have completed the plant-destruction phase of their cycles. However, there are a handful of pests that make their presence known in the fall, so it’s important to be on the lookout for these insects. As with all types of viruses and infestations, having healthy plants and a watchful eye from the start will avoid most problems from getting out of hand.
Here are the most common garden pests that you may find during the fall season:
If you notice brown spots in your garden, there’s a chance that lawn grubs are feasting on your grass roots. Pull on the brown spots and see if it pulls out with no roots. If so, lift the section to check for grubs, which are c-shaped, transparent and can be found on the underside of the roots. A few grubs aren’t a problem, but 10 or more are. The good news is that young grubs are most susceptible to treatment, and the best time to treat the problem is in the fall. If you don’t, the grubs will continue doing damage, hurting your lawn in the springtime.
We all know the black and red boxelder bugs that start seeking winter shelter in the fall. These bugs don’t bite, and they are more of a nuisance than a threat, but they do come in large numbers, which is why you don’t want boxelder problems to get out of hand. If you notice these bugs coming around your home or garden, vacuum them up or spray them with a garden hose. A mix of laundry soap and water work well, too, just make sure that you spray the insecticide directly on the bugs.
Bagworms are caterpillars that create small bags of twigs and leaves. In the spring, eggs inside these bags hatch, and the caterpillars emerge, starting the cycle all over again. Even though the bags look ugly, they don’t cause damage to the trees in most cases. Still, you’ll want to knock down these bags so that you don’t have an infestation on your hands.
Slugs and Snails
Did you know that slugs and snails lay up to 60 percent of their eggs in the fall? If you don’t get rid of them, they will overwinter and begin feeding in the spring. Slugs and snails are known for their slimy trails, and they may eat between the leaves of ornamental plants, seedlings, fruits and vegetables.
Fall webworms are caterpillars that rest at the ends of tree branch tips. Here is where they spin silken webs and spend their time feasting inside the web. The more they feast, the bigger the web grows, and the more unsightly the tree becomes. The good news is that the tree doesn’t usually suffer damage, unless it is young or small.
In the fall, you’ll notice an increase in yellow jackets. While the sight of yellow jackets can make us uneasy, take comfort in knowing that these insects help control the invasions of caterpillars. They prey on soft-bodied insects, and they feast from the juices of damaged fruits. Yellow jackets don’t pose a threat to Mother Nature, but you do want to watch for nests that can pose a threat to your pets and family.
Stink bugs don’t like the winter, so they begin looking for shelter in the fall. The reason why they are called stink bugs is because they leave behind an invisible chemical letting other stink bugs know where they are. Since these pests feed on plant material, you will want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. When you’re outdoors, you can step on stink bugs to warn others to flee, but you won’t want to do this indoors because it will cause an odor. Instead, prepare a soapy mixture that can be sprayed on the bugs, then throw them away in a sealed bag.