Plant Life Balance

A bug’s life

The good, the bad and the ugly, and how they create a healthy garden.

Gardens are living things and there are bugs everywhere. Most of the beneficial ones aren’t even visible, it’s only the bad ones that you need to keep an eye out for. Aphids, scale and mealy bugs are common pests in Australian gardens.

How bugs get to your plants

Generally speaking, bugs blow in from another garden. These bugs can also bring diseases with them if they’ve previously been sucking sap from a sick plant. Some bugs, such as aphids, excrete a honeydew nectar as they feast on the plant which leaves the plant susceptible to viral fungi and black sooty mould. Indoor environments are safer because they are contained and have consistent conditions, but bugs still somehow get in there so don’t stop inspecting.

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Per my recent post, regarding aphids and nasturtiums…do you plant them as “bait” plants? • ☕️ Good morning! Can’t get over how beautiful all these colors are! The only downside of growing Nasturtiums is that they attract aphids and the underside of the leaves are covered. On a positive note, they could be bait plants to keep aphids away from your other crops. 😊 This is a dwarf variant of Nasturtium (Jewel Mix) – perfect in pots small spaces or as a hedge. Can grow in poor soil conditions and is drought tolerant! • Got the seeds from @seeds_now . 😍 Use code learntogrow15 for a savings of 15%. • #organicgardening #garden #gardening #nasturtium #urbangarden #growyourown #gardeningtips #outdoorkitchen #flowerinspo #flowerinspiration #gardeninspiration #organicgarden #urbanorganicgardener #growsomethinggreen #growfood #aphids #growyourfood #gardentips #pnw #pacificnorthwest #gardenerslife #urbanorganicgardener #gardenactivist #gardeninspo #backyardgardening #backyardgarden #gardenideas #thehappygardeninglife #nasturtiums

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What to look out for

Common bugs like aphids and scale thrive by sucking all the sap out of a healthy plant, literally sucking the life out of them. Some bugs are easy to see, like scale, which seem to suddenly appear as hundreds of tiny black pods sucking away at a plant stem. 

Mealy bugs have a furry, cotton wool-like appearance, often on the underside of leaves and in house plants.

Aphids vary in colour by congregate together as they devour plants, often found on plant stems or underleaf.

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Just spotted some mealy bugs on my Okinawa spinach. Honestly I don’t really mind these guys too much. They are way easier to treat than most other garden pests. Just released a new video on what to do to kill them on contact with non-toxic items you probably already have around your house. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #summercrop #mealybugs #badbugs #leafygreens #naturalpestcontrol #gardenpests #bugspray #pestcontrol #groworganic #organicgarden #urbanorganicgardener #organicallygrown #sustainablegardening #gardeningtips #gardentips #howtogarden #urbanorganicgardener #floridagarden #floridagardening #floridagardener #zone9b #vegetablegardening #veggiegarden #vegetablepatch

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How to prevent bugs

The best way to prevent bug infestations is to have a healthy garden. Just like us humans, a healthy plant is stronger against infection. Here’s our to-do list for ensuring our garden has the best possible head start in fighting potential pests:

  • Regularly inspect your plants for bugs, especially under the leaves.
  • When buying plants, inspect for bugs before bringing them into your house and garden.
  • Buy plants from a Plant Life Balance-accredited nursery, so you can be sure they were sourced from a reputable provider.
  • Commercial potting mix can help over homemade compost for potted/indoor plants because it’s been tested and treated for disease and efficacy.
  • Look for deformities or floppiness in the flower as a sign of disease.
  • Make sure that you plants are fertilised, watered and get an appropriate amount of sunlight – malnutrition dehydration and sunburn can make them more susceptible to being attacked.

How to get rid of bugs

Integrated Pest Management is a new method based on old practices for keeping bad bugs at bay. The idea is to introduce predatory good bugs that will eat the bad ones without causing more harm to the garden. Pruning damaged and under-attack sections of the plant to get rid of the bugs can also help. There are also horticultural oils that work well by suffocating the bad bugs.

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Did you know? Lady beetles (a.k.a. lady bugs or ladybird beetles) are categorized as beneficial insects, a group that performs a variety of services useful to humans and ecosystems—including waste management, soil aeration, and pest control. Lady beetles fall into the latter category; they are predators of common crop pests, including aphids! A single lady beetle may consume up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime! The one pictured is well on its way! ••• It is important to note that buying lady beetles in bulk is not an ecologically sound practice. It is best to cultivate an ecosystem in your garden or on your farm that attracts native lady beetles. We offer tips on our website and in our publications, especially Habitat Planning for Beneficial Insects: Guidelines for Conservation Biological Control. It’s all available at xerces.org! ••• #ladybeetle #ladybug #ladybird #ladybirdbeetle #beetles #beneficialinsects #aphids #naturalpestcontrol #nopesticides #pesticidereduction #naturalgardening #naturalfarming #sustainablegardening #sustainablefarming #conservationbiocontrol #biocontrol #sustainability #environment #conservation #invertebrateconservation #xercessociety

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Where can we look for reputable info?

There are lots of online sources that can help you identify and treat garden bug situations. Look for ones that are endorsed by a university or TAFE, as well as larger gardening and pest control organisations and brands – even Gardening Australia. 

Got a question? Talk to an expert. Check our nursery finder to find your closest Plant Life Balance-accredited nursery.

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