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Natural Solutions for Pests in your Aussie Garden

snail on wood

All gardeners will have experienced some problems with their plants, whether it’s unexplained plant deaths, pest infestation or climate conditions. Gardening is always teaching us lessons, just when we think we have it sorted something a new challenge pops up. Below we look at some common Australian garden and plant pests and how to treat them naturally.

How to get rid of Snails and Slugs naturally?

These common pests can consume several times their own body weight in 1 day and do a lot of damage to plants. Traditional pellets were effective but had deadly consequences for wildlife who ate them. Thankfully there are many natural alternatives;

• Coffee grounds/wheat bran/corn bran- piled around plants, creates a barrier they can not cross
• Beer Traps – they love it! bury a tub in your patch and let them fall in and drown
• Egg shells – sprinkle across, creates a barrier
• Copper tape – wrapped around pots, garden beds etc
• Organic slug pellets -sprinkled around plants
• Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – creates a sharp barrier
• Gravel, bark or wood chips – creates a barrier
• Remove by hand – Effective, though very time consuming. Need to be placed at least 10 meters away

How to get rid of Mealybugs in soil organically?

Mealybugs claim a plant as their home and can cause a lot of damage and even kill the plant. They tend to live in the soil, so it is hard to get rid of them.

They thrive in warm and moist climates (such as greenhouses), they feed on plant sap and secrete a waxy residue and promote the growth of a sooty mould on the plant. A few natural remedies to treat them are:

• Avoid excessive watering or over fertilising
• Dab alcohol or methylated spirits on the insects
• Introduce natural predators such as ladybugs
• Insecticidal soap
• Spray with a mix of garlic and soap water
• White oil (vegetable oil and soapy water mix)

How long do fungus gnats eggs live in dry soil?

Adult fungus gnats live approximately 1 week, but the eggs they lay will sit in the soil for 3 days hatch into nymphs, which can live in soil for approximately 2 weeks before growing wings, long legs and antennae. They can wreak havoc by feeding on algae, fungi and decaying plant matter, as well as plant roots and leaves. They don’t fly very far and tend to hover around the plant they are infecting.

How to get rid of fungus gnats without chemical?

Allow the soil to dry out, larvae of fungus gnats cannot survive in dry soil.
Gnats are attracted to bright colours, so use brightly coloured bug traps, sticky oil on a bright surface or bright lights and colours, to help capture and remove them. Likely not to get them all, but better for then using chemicals in the long run.

How to get rid of grubs in soil?

Grubs are worm-like beetle larvae that feed on the roots of your lawn and plants.
They are a natural part of the ecosystem and you shouldn’t worry about them unless they are in large numbers. Natural solutions to treat excess grub issues, such as;

• Neem oil- mix neem oil with water and spray on the infested area
• Milky Spore – grubs ingest it and it kills them (under the right conditions)
• Introduce nematodes- these carry bacteria that will kill curl grubs and other pests
• Dry them out, they thrive in moist soil and will die during a drought
• Timing- spring and early summer is the best time to treat the area as they are most vulnerable then

Are soil mites bad for plants?

Good news, soil mites are not harmful to your soil or plants. They actually play an essential role in providing the nutrients required in the soil to keep plants healthy. They feed on organic material in soil and help turn it into nutrients for the plants (particularly important for making calcium available). They are small (2mm) long white or brown mites that crawl along the soil surface. They are generally found more in areas with lots of compost or rotting fruit/vegetables & leaf/plant matter. If you want to reduce them, then best to keep the area free of material.

How to get rid of termites in soil?

Termites are very destructive and can cause a lot of structural damage to buildings that is very costly to fix. Listed below are some natural remedies to prevent and treat termites in garden soil, though it is advise to find and kill the colony first so they don’t keep coming back;

• Keep your garden and surrounds tidy, garden beds/mulch away from house walls and avoid overwatering (damp spaces are attractive for termites)
• Nematodes kill termites, these naturally occurring roundworms enter the termites body and release a bacteria that poisons the termite
• Boric acid, will kill and it is less toxic than other insecticides
• Orange oil, derived from orange peel can be brought in gardening stores, spray directly on affected area (apple cider vinegar can be used in a similar way

How to get rid of white ants in soil?

White ants don’t actually exist, the term ‘white ant’ is actually another name for Termites. Termites often use soil to nest in and feed on the nutrients from plant roots, this can occur in soil and potting mix. The moisture in soil attracts termites making it the perfect area for nests. If you see them it’s best to act immediately (as you don’t want them harming building structures etc).

Traditional pesticides contain harmful chemicals that can cause irreversible damage to plants and soil. Hydrogen peroxide is natural and can be purchased at a pharmacy. Mix 4 parts water to one part hydrogen peroxide and apply to the area. It will usually kill them in 1 day. This can even boost root growth and provide the plant with extra oxygen, improving overall plant health.

Are soil mites bad for plants?

Good news, soil mites are not harmful to your soil or plants. They actually play an essential role in providing the nutrients required in the soil to keep plants healthy. They feed on organic material in soil and help turn it into nutrients for the plants (particularly important for making calcium available). They are small (2mm) long white or brown mites that crawl along the soil surface. They are generally found more in areas with lots of compost or rotting fruit/vegetables & leaf/plant matter. If you want to reduce them, then best to keep the area free of material.

Final Tip

We have discussed only a few of the many pest problems gardeners face. The good news is Food2Soil will help prevent some pest issues by keeping your plants and soil healthy, balancing both the nutrition requirements and microbial life. There are few products on the market with live microbes, naturally brewed and ready for easy absorption. Visit Food2soil/shop to see for yourself.