This summer, be on watch for these two pests along the Eastern seaboard and into the Southeastern states.
Mosquitos are one of the most common insect nuisances in the world, and while they don’t cause much damage in your garden, you certainly don’t want them breeding there to feed on you while you’re out getting your hands dirty. In addition to the pain and itchiness caused by mosquito bits, the little buggers may also carry disease, including the seasonal epidemic West Nile Virus.
To control mosquito populations, examine your landscape for areas that trap moisture or collect water in stagnant pools. Leveling off depressions in your lawn can help deprive mosquitos of breeding pools; cleaning up piles of trimmings, leaves and grass clippings further diminishes their territory. Even then, though, some regions (particularly in the South) are simply prone to mosquitos. If you continue to see mosquitos buzzing around your home or garden, an area spray like Cutter Backyard Bug Control can be used to diminish mosquito populations for up to 8 weeks. For an additional layer of protection, use a personal repellant like Cutter or Repel, especially if you’re outdoors at dusk or dawn when mosquitos are most active.
Actually a caterpillar, this garden pest prepares for its eventual metamorphosis into a moth by feeding on plants from the nightshade family. That may include your tomatoes, eggplant, peppers or potatoes. Hornworms also routinely ignore the warnings of the surgeon general, so if you grow tobacco, those plants may also be at risk.
Though often mistaken for one another, there are actually two varieties of hornworm to watch out for. Both are green and can grow up to four inches in length. One, the tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata), sports a blue-black horn and V-shaped markings along its back. The tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta), meanwhile, is distinguished by a red horn and seven diagonal lines along its sides. Both can be difficult to spot nestled among greenery of your garden, and both can be destructive to vegetables, so keep a close eye out for any damage to the leaves or stems of your plants.
Hornworms are generally large enough to hand pick and destroy. Planting marigolds around your vegetables may also help deter hornworms from invading. Certain species of parasitic wasps will prey on hornworms, taking care of the problem for you—provided that you don’t consider wasps a bigger problem. If more stringent measures are needed, you can use bacillus thuringiensis. At the end of the season, be sure to till the bed to turn up any pupae that might be lurking there in anticipation of next season.