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The Most Common Garden Pests in Los Angeles-And What You Can Do About Them

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 @ 01:09 PM

The Most Common Garden Pests in Los Angeles-And What You Can Do About Them

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Most homeowners take pride in their gardens. Whether they grow vegetables, cultivate flowers and shrubs, or plant fruit trees, they invest quite a bit of time, energy, and money into creating lush gardens that complement their beautiful homes.

If you're a gardener yourself, you understand the anxiety that a lot of gardeners feel about pests. After all, one pest infestation can destroy everything a gardener works so hard to achieve. It's depressing to get to harvest season with nothing to show for it, and it's discouraging to have a brown, dying garden instead of a colorful, vibrant one in the summer.

At the same time, many homeowners don't want to turn to conventional pesticides to control pest problems when it comes to their gardens. But if you want to protect your garden, what other choice do you have?

Fortunately, natural pest control solutions offer safer alternatives to garden pest control. Below, we've provided a guide to the most common garden pests in Los Angeles. Read our blog to learn a little bit more about these pests and how natural solutions can help you fend them off.

Common Garden Pests

Because of Los Angeles's mild, pleasant climate, a variety of pests make their home there, from insects to rodents to birds. If your garden is under attack, one or more of the following pests might be the main culprit:

Voles and Moles

Voles are rodents that look similar to mice-in fact, if you see a vole, you might not be able to tell the difference between it and a mouse. Usually, voles look slightly larger than mice with shorter tales and a smaller head shape. If you have a vole infestation, you'll notice the following problems:

Partially eaten plant roots and bulbs

Partially eaten root vegetables like potatoes and carrots

Two-inch-wide pathways of trampled grass across your garden

Typically, moles are larger than voles. Even though homeowners can confuse these two pests, they're actually quite different-while voles are rodents, moles belong to the same family as bats. Instead of eating plants, they eat earthworms, centipedes, slugs, and snails.

In their quest to find these creatures, though, moles can create tunnels that destroy your garden. If you have a mole problem, you'll probably notice raised mounds of dirt that crisscross your garden. Moles also create small pockets of air around plants' roots, which can destroy your more delicate annuals.

Snails and Slugs

Slugs lack snails' outer shells, but both snails and slugs cause similar problems for gardeners. If you live in or near Los Angeles, you'll probably have the most problems with one of two invasive, destructive snail species: brown garden snails or white garden snails.

If you have a slug or snail infestation, you'll notice asymmetrical holes on flowers and leaves. Snails and slugs can destroy fruits and vegetables that grow close to the ground, like strawberries, but they typically go after flowers, seeds, and foliage.

Caterpillars and earwigs can cause similar damage as slugs and snails, so some homeowners have a hard time determining which type of infestation they have. However, you can tell you have a snail or slug infestation if you notice silvery trails of mucous across your leaves and grass.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are tiny insects similar to aphids. They often cluster on the undersides of leaves, and they reproduce quickly-female whiteflies can lay up to 400 eggs at a time.

In a best-case scenario, you could stop a whitefly infestation before it even happens by checking the undersides of your plants' leaves for white dots in a circular pattern. These are whitefly eggs, and if you scrub them from the leaves using soap and water, you'll stop the infestation in its tracks.

If the eggs have hatched and you already have a whitefly infestation, you'll notice yellowing, dead, or drying leaves. You'll also notice a sticky residue on leaves; this substance is called honeydew, and it can lead to fungal infections that destroy your plants.

Natural Solutions to Pest Problems

If you experience these or other pest problems, call your pest control expert. He or she might talk to you about a few of the following natural, pesticide-free solutions:

Take good care of your plants and trees. Stronger, healthier plants are better prepared to resist infestations. Water your plants frequently and make sure they have the nutrients they need to thrive.

Remove dead or dying plants as soon as possible. Most pests are attracted to decaying plant material, so removing that creates a less hospitable environment for pests.

Introduce helpful species. Some insects like ladybugs can control pest populations, especially aphids and whiteflies.

Dig trenches or place wire mesh around gardens. If you have a smaller garden you want to protect from voles and moles, line the area with wire screens or dig a small trench around it.

Your pest control expert can analyze your unique garden and pest and propose situations that keep you safe, defend your garden, and beautify the landscape you've devoted so much time to.

To learn more about common pests, visit our blog frequently.