If you share your outdoor space with children, pets, bees, and butterflies, you may prefer to manage garden pests organically. These products can be effective, but you must choose the right product for the job.
Plant damage is the first sign that pests are in the garden. Start by identifying the pest based on what kind of damage you see. While pests like Japanese beetles do damage to many kinds of plants, most insects prefer eating one plant family.
Use a magnifying glass to see if the pest is chewing holes in leaves or piercing plants. Use a book, our pest identification problem solver tool or ask your The Home Depot Garden Center associate for help in determining who the unwanted pests are. Once you’ve identified the pests, you can start controlling them organically and help your garden thrive.
Organic Controls for Bad Bugs:
- Aphids, spider mites and other small sucking insects: Use insecticidal soaps to cut through the thin coatings on the insects’ bodies, causing them to dry out and die. For insecticidal soaps to work, you must spray them on the pests. Apply again after a week to kill new hatchlings. Be careful, because insecticidal soap can injure leaves when applied in hot sun, or when concentrates are not properly diluted.
- Caterpillars: When cabbage worms, tomato hornworms or other common garden leaf-eaters eat common bacterium, or Bt, they stop feeding and die within a couple of days. Whether you choose a dust or liquid formulation, reapply Bt every two weeks for steady control of persistent pests.
- Slugs and snails: Use a slug and snail bait with iron phosphate as its active ingredient to stop these big-time leaf chewers. Spread granules over the ground where slugs and snails can get to them easily. As a bonus, water turns the granules into fertilizer. Get the best control by using light applications every few weeks and re-applying after rainy weather when slugs come out of hiding.
Don’t worry that every insect you see will ruin all your hard work. Many bugs are good for your garden.