How To Identify Winter Garden Insect Pests

5 Garden Pests to Look for in the Winter

How To Indentify Winter Garden Insect Pests-aphid-insect-pest
Aphid garden insect pests

During the spring and the summer months garden pests can become a real issue, farmlands, nurseries, home gardens, and other plant growers are faced with the challenge of controlling garden insect pest populations. If these pests are left unchecked and not dealt with can cause server damage, according to one study it’s estimated that the damage insect pets cause on a yearly basis amounts to ” $77 billion”.

This staggering figure alone shows how destructive these pests are, although garden insect pests are most active during the spring and summer months the winter months also present some issues where some pest activities can still be found.

Although garden pests overwinter don’t be deceived some of them can be found lurking, yes even in winter time, to identify these insects including control measures continue to read.

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Identifying and Controlling Pest During Winter

1. Aphids and Their Control

How To Identify Winter Garden Insect Pests-aphid-insect-pest
Aphid garden insect pests

Aphids are a common garden pest that is very active during the spring and summer months, these garden pests are not only active outdoors (gardens) but also can be found on indoor plants. There are said to be some 4,000 aphid species that can be found worldwide. Although their population multiplies very quickly their control is rather easy depending on the level of infestation.

According to some research aphids can survive the winter months through,” adaptation, diapausing, freeze tolerance and freeze avoidance, study has also shown that” the longer the cold weather duration, the higher the aphid mortality rate”.

Despite these facts, several control methods have proven beneficial to reduce the aphid population to an acceptable where their presence is no threat, in a home garden. Depending on the number of aphids a strong spray of water from a garden hose can knock aphids off plants killing them and bringing control. A hose attachment with several adjustable gauges is a great tool to have. Another control method is the use of insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, Neem oil, garlic spray, sevin, or diatomaceous earth. Before applying insecticides read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.

2. Controlling Slugs

How To Indentify Winter Garden Insect Pests-a-slug
A Slug

Slugs are active from spring through fall and during winter time also, so during this time be on the lookout for them in your garden. Slugs can lay dozens of eggs up to six times per year making them very difficult to control.

Slugs are active on cloudy days, at night times, or just before dawn. Places to check include under rocks, plants, old pieces of board, and other matted garden debris.

Slugs are close relative to snails, signs of the presence of slugs include a clear white smiley substance and large ragged holes in flowers and leaves of tender plants. As you continue your detective work you will also in some cases notice this clear slime on the soil surface that will give clear evidence of which direction the slug is headed.

Some control measures include

  • Hand-picking and placing them in a bucket of water with dish detergent
  • Using eggshells is a safe and effective approach. Allow the shells to dry then crush and scatter them through your garden. The jagged edges will cut the slug’s body making it really painful  which will keep slugs at bay
  • Soaking a piece of board in beer will attract them. Catch them and place them in a bucket of soapy will eliminate them
  • Sprinkling coffee on the ground and around plants temporarily has offered some help
  • There are several baits that can be purchased but it is good to purchase those that are non-toxic

3. Caterpillar Control

How To Identify Winter Garden Insect Pests-worm-larva

Caterpillars are common when it comes to pest issues, the destruction of these pests is severe and if control measures are not taken can destroy a garden quickly. Caterpillars will feed on leafy greens as well as ornamental plants.

Signs of caterpillars include leaves that have holes, or leaves that have chewed edges, the plant’s leaves may also be rolled up or fastened with silk. Frass or caterpillar poop may also be discovered. Their poop resembles black pepper, caterpillar usually leaves poop behind after actively feeding. High activity can lead to an entire plant losing all its leaves known as defoliation.

There are many ways to bring control, either with the help of beneficial insects, parasitic flies and wasps, birds, spiders, predaceous ground beetles, etc… chemical control of this pest includes Bt worm & caterpillar killer, caterpillar killer, flower & vegetable garden dust, before using pesticides read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.

How To Indentify Winter Garden Insect Pests-a-vole
A Vole

4. Voles and Moles 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 are the use of mouse snap traps, wire mesh garden fencing, or hardware that can be wrapped around the base of young trees during wintertime 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.

How To Identify Winter Garden Insect Pests-a-mole
A Mole

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.

5. Wildlife Control

How To Identify Winter Garden Insect Pests-a-rabbit
A Rabbit

During the winter months when foods are scarce wildlife me be seen lurking around in your backyard, these wildlife may include rabbits, deer, and rodents.

These wildlife search for woody barks and stems that are tender, and the damage done to garden plants can lead to insect infestation and disease. Other sources of food include cool season annuals and vegetables.

Deers are known to feed on the lower leaves of trees, for some, their presence in the backyard may be an exciting experience (deer and rabbits) but again know for sure they are there to get filled with what you are growing in your garden and landscape. Deer control includes electronic devices and repellents, To control rabbits put these measures in place.

Additional information

  • When searching for insect pests search on the undersides of leaves, in sever cases insects can be found both on the undersides and the leaf surface
  • When treating food crops or edible plants take the safe approach and use organic pesticides
  • Before using insecticides read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results

The final word on how to Identify winter garden insect pests

The winter months do present some challenges with garden insect pests, although they pose some threats during the colder months these control measures will ensure that you have much success to keep your plants safe and thriving so when the warmer seasons return your plants will have a jump start. If you’re searching for a way to control these pests this guide can offer help.


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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.