Common Pests Found In North Carolina Gardens
By Guest Writer: Robin Sherman
There’s no shortage of pests here in the Tarheel State. Even the most experienced gardeners and landscape designers in North Carolina find themselves continually battling the worst nuisances. Depending on your location, you could find a wide variety of bugs attacking your precious azaleas or blue-ribbon tomatoes. It’s crucial for us to identify our enemy so we can fight it effectively. Here are the most common pests found in North Carolina gardens:
A gardener’s worst enemy, Aphids are a regular not only in North Carolina but also all around the country. These pests are quite small and pear-shaped. They’re easy to identify thanks to two tubes that stick out of their abdomen. Aphids are usually yellow-green in color, so they blend in with growing vines and stems. They suck the sap of the plant, hurting the leaves and fruits. Get rid of them by spraying the plant and introducing natural predators, like ladybugs and lacewings to your garden.
Colorado Potato Beetle
These destructive insects resemble ladybugs in their size and shape and are definitely not friendly to garden plants. Colorado Potato Beetles are orangish-yellow with black stripes on their backs. You’ll find them on tomatoes and potatoes, but they also like to infest petunias and eggplants. They can reduce the output of your garden by killing young plants and damaging the older ones. You can protect your plants by spraying them with neem oil or by covering the fruits and vegetables. Another option? Add insect-repelling plants to your garden to deter pests from ever entering.
Azalea Lace Bugs
We call them the “North Carolina pest,” since Azalea Lace Bugs target our native azalea plants in droves every year. Azalea Lace Bugs don’t kill the plant but can cause significant cosmetic damage making the plants look horrible. You’ll know you have them when you see yellow, white, or silver spots on the azalea leaves. They sometimes attack deciduous azalea varieties, but they’re most common on evergreen azaleas. You can prevent these pests with proper fertilizing and watering to keep your plant strong and healthy. Once the plant is infested, you’ll have to use either chemical or organic solutions.
These critters look like yellow caterpillars, about ½ inch long. They target only azaleas and you can spot their destruction by brown spots, or blisters, on the leaf. The Azalea Leafminer can be tricky, sometimes tying itself to the leaf and rolling up the edges around itself for protection. The caterpillars turn into small, yellow moths with purplish markings on their wings. You may not notice a lot of leafminer activity on outdoor azaleas, but you’ll often find them in greenhouses or plants repotted as houseplants.
Fire Ants can prove troublesome for plants, gardeners, pets, and electrical equipment. These intruders thrive in North Carolina due to the warmer climate, and you’ll often find a mound of them after a rainfall. A fire ant’s sting is painful and often dangerous, especially if you’re allergic to their bite. They can be deadly for small pets since they attack in hordes and can strip a carcass clean in minutes. Fire Ants are also fond of electrical wiring and can quickly ruin motorized equipment and electrical boxes. You can buy a fire ant insecticide at most hardware stores, but knowing how much to use can be tricky. This is one pest that may be best left to the professionals.
Part of cultivating a beautiful garden is being able to recognize and treat for pests that harm plants and produce. Look for these common pests found in North Carolina gardens during the next growing season. Need help controlling pests in your home or garden? Call your Clegg’s Pest Control Heroes at (888) MRCLEGG and schedule a FREE inspection today!
About the Guest Writer:
Robin Sherman is an avid gardener who grows her own fruits and vegetables. When she’s not in the garden, you’ll find her on the patio working on DIY projects and painting furniture.