Category Archives: Pests

Aphid Video

Here is a video on aphids done by the naturalist and videographer Jo Alwood.


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Aphids – Dead as a Doornail

It always amazes me how I can have thousands of aphids on my milkweed one week and ten days later, they are all dead and gone.

August 11th I wrote about our aphid infestation later in the summer.
August 21st, I went out and found them all dead or gone.
Most people give the credit to predators, but I have never seen that many ladybugs and lacewings in my garden to complete the annihilation of the aphids.

My theory is that since the aphids are all genetically identical, that all it takes is one disease to come in and wipe them out.

Netflix has a great video on aphids if you’re interested.
David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities | Season 2 – Episode 1.


Filed under Pests

Controlling Bugs Inside


I always bring in some plants or cuttings in the fall and inevitably they end up with some sort of bug infestation on them. I noticed that at my school’s greenhouse they used the above yellow sticky pads to attract and keep the bug population down.


I decided to give it a try and you can plainly see the results. I count an average of 60 bugs on some 1″ squares and this is only after a couple of weeks. It may not be a perfect solution, but it does helps.

Note – this is in my basement, so the unattractive yellow traps don’t mess up our home decor.

October 2015 – another product I am trying out is Ultra-Fine Pesticidal oil. Note – the bottle I am using contains paraffinic oil, not the mineral oil that is now available. Some of the plants I am bringing in look like they have possible leaf miner damage. After spraying, the plants look better and are growing.

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Soil Solarization

Here’s a new term I recently learned  – soil solarization. It’s a technique using clear plastic and the power of the sun to kill all sorts of pests, weed seeds and pathogens. There are a number of good articles on this so I won’t redo what’s already been recorded. If you are planning a new garden and have the time to do this, I’d give it a try.

Here are some links to check out and a video at the end.


Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Pests, soil

Voles – Battle to the Death


After I lost a few $10 plants to voles, I realized that these cute mouse-like creatures are not to be wanted in the garden.They seem to prefer bulbs and roots from a few of my plants so I have to resort to extreme measures to protect the plants. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

  • As the picture clearly shows, hawks are a good deterrent to voles. Luckily I do have them in my neighborhood.
  • I usually know voles are present by the paths that I see in my lawn. They are like vole highways.
  • I have found sites that recommend mouse traps baited with peanut butter, but have never caught a vole that way.
  • My most effective remedy is to use “Sweeney’s Poison Peanut Pellets” and contrary to the label, it does nothing for moles, but it does kill voles. It takes a while since the voles will probably store the pellets as a food source. I found two dead vole bodies this year as I was clearing the garden, so I know it works. Make sure you put the pellets down the hole and cover it up so that other animals or kids don’t eat it.
  • Another solution that Jim shared with me is shown in the video below. It basically forces the vole onto a mouse trap that is staked down. While you can certainly buy this product, you could probably make it yourself with a piece of gutter, heavy duty wire and a couple of mouse traps. Note two traps cost $14.99 + $6 shipping. 
  • I just found another solution using a Kness Ketch-All Mouse Trap – See this video

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Pests on Blue Baptisia?

Dave Tylka recently told me about a problem with the Genista broom caterpillar/moth. In some places it is devastating the blue baptisias in some gardens.

I just recently noticed this caterpillar and I’m raising one to see what the moth looks like. According to Dave, it only eats the blue baptisia.

You can control it with hand picking or BT if you have a lot. Some people have reported losing their plant. Here’s a link from GardenWeb with other people’s experience.

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Filed under Caterpillars, Identification, Pests

Cleaning the Garden for the New Season










I have about twenty different garden areas in my yard and it takes quite a bit of time to clean up last years debris and trash. One new technique I have tried in the last few days with our record breaking 70 degrees in January is to use a hedge trimmer. It seems to work well for 90% of the garden.

In the past I have used a brush cutters and lawn trimmers and both do a pretty good job also. With my bad back though I find that both tools hurt a bit and I pay the price the next day.

With the hedge trimmer I can set it on the ground and move it back and forth and cut down all but the largest branches.

I’ve noticed a number of gardeners complaining of moth infestations and wonder if this type of clearing early in the year, before spring, might be a good way to reduce the moth population.

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Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Misc, Pests, Pruning