How To Control Winter Garden Insect Pests

Tips to Control Pest in the Winter

How To Control Winter Garden Insect Pests-a-snail
A Snail

Creating a garden oasis or growing an edible garden has its rewards but keeping your garden growing healthy requires best management practices to ensure that your plants are getting what they need for proper growth.  From cultivating the soil, soil amendments, to weed control, water management, and fertilizing schedules are some practices that must be carried out but one challenge that must be dealt with is the control of garden pests.

Garden pests are most active during the spring and summer months coming out of dormancy or after overwintering in the soil, leaf litter, or other garden debris. These overwintering pests emerge once the warmer season arrives causing much damage to garden plants if left undetected or if control measures are not taken immediately.

Even during the colder months, many garden pests are still active so it seems that our job of eradicating these garden pests is never done but the good news is we can bring control or reduce their population to an acceptable level where their presence is no longer a threat.

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6. Best Management Practices to Control Garden Pests

1. Weed Control

The removal of weeds is an effective way to control garden pests, the presence of weeds will not only take away the beauty of a garden but will compete with plants for sunlight, water, and nutrients and will encourage the spread of diseases. Garden insect pests also use weeds as a habourage to overwinter until the warmer season arrives where they will continue to do their damage.

Weeds should be removed from garden beds, around trees and any other places they are growing, when attempting weed removal ensure that the entire weed is removed including the roots. The reason for this is if the weed pops from the top but the bottom is allowed to remain along with the roots will encourage weed regrowth.

Based on where the weeds are growing and the number to be uprooted should be handled with the most effective method, weeds that are growing in a garden plant bed can be removed with a hoe, a hand cultivator, a weed digging knife, or a spade digging fork. A garden kneeler is a handy tool that can help to make your weed job easier.

2. Herbicides

Herbicides are also effective with the removal of weeds but be forewarned that herbicides are poisonous and care should be taken when handling them. Herbercides can and should only be used in large areas where weeds have reached an unacceptable level. Herbicides should never be used in garden plant beds especially near edible plants, when using herbicides make sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for safety and for the best results.

Never attempt to apply herbicides in windy weather because herbicides can drift to nearby garden plants and water bodies leading to contamination. If rain is forecast or if it rains hold off on herbicide use. When using herbicides remember safety comes first wearing the proper PPE is important, a respirator, garden gloves, and goggles are a must. Once a herbicide application is completed wash out the spray bottle thoroughly with soap and water. Secure herbicide in a cool ventilated protected place out of the reach of children.

3. Bringing Insect Pests to the Soil’s Surface

Because many insect pests overwinter in the soil the key to bringing them to the surface where they’re exposed to the cold is through cultivation, the way this method works is to turn over the first top 6-8 inches of soil. If leaf litter or mulch is present then remove these materials with a rake and then proceed to turn the soil. Wait however until the coldest week for these practices

4. Winter Wash Control

A winter wash is a plant or fish oil-based that’s applied all over bushes, ornamental trees, and the exposed branches of fruit trees. This spray application will eliminate overwintering garden pests by suffocation or smothering once insects come into contact with or are exposed to this solution. Winter wash will also dislove the eggs of insect pests, when making applications make sure and make contact with large as well as small narrow areas or openings where insects can hide. The solution should be applied or released misty to get the total. Before using a winter wash read and follow the manufacturer’s directions on the label.

5. Controlling Insects with Birds

Inviting birds into your garden is a natural way to control insects, including a bird feeder with bird feed and a water source such as a bird bath that keeps the water running and warm so the water does not freeze will attract birds to your garden which will in turn (control) feed on insects pests.

6. Moles and Voles Control

While voles and moles are not classed as insect pests they are without doubt garden pests, moles and voles do damage to lawns by tunneling in search of food destroying the lawn roots causing lawns to die in certain areas. Moles feed on insects, grubs, and worms. Voles on the other hand are herbivores that remove or strip bark from the trunks and roots of plants.

Some ways to control voles is the use of mouse snap traps, wire mesh garden fencing, or hardware that can be wrapped around the base of young trees during winter time to discourage voles from gnawing the tree’s bark. A mixture of castor oil and water will repel voles because they hate the smell, apply this solution with a spray bottle where voles are spotted.  Another effective homemade remedy is the mixture of soap, water, and finely chopped hot pepper, place this mixture in a spray bottle and apply to areas where voles are active.

For moles, the use of hardware cloth liners at the bottom of the sides of flower beds or across the top of beds will prevent digging or wrapping around the base of trees. Getting a cat or two is a great way to control voles. Applications of mole repellents can help as well, setting mole traps. Other control measures include putting off mulching too early and monitoring the amount of moisture ( don’t overwater) or water on your lawn.

The final word on how to control winter garden insect pests

The control of garden pests can seem at times to be an ongoing war or a daunting task, but the good news is that the right information can bring control by reducing their population. This guide will equip you with what you need to know to effectively bring control. The use of one or more of these methods based on your pest issue is guaranteed to work for you so that when the warmer season arrives your garden will get off to a great start


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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.