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July Garden Solutions

Rudbeckia blooms

Ants, Leaffooted Bugs, and Spider Mites

With the hotter July temperatures, there may be some unwelcome visitors in your garden and yard. Our experts have been getting questions this month about ants, leaffooted bugs and spider mites. We have help to keep them at low numbers and advice on how to control them if they get out of hand.
Plants that face our hot Mediterranean summers have challenges, and keeping our plants stress-free keeps most insect pests at manageable levels. How we water, use organic fertilizers, and apply mulch are important to keeping our plants healthy.

Check that you are watering at the furthest reaches of the branches, the canopy edge. Check with a moisture meter to be sure you have watered the whole root zone at the right depth. Use the meter again to find out when the soil is dry enough to be watered again. Overwatering leads to plant stress just as much as underwatering.

Use organic fertilizers to promote even, long-term growth which reduces stress and minimizes unwelcome insect pests.
Dry, dusty conditions allow ants and spider mite numbers to get too high. Add mulch wherever you can to keep dust down, and plan to irrigate longer. Ants in particular are heavy this month when the soil gets too dry. We recommend ant bait stations for control. Spider mites are best controlled with Monterey Take Down, which only needs to be applied intermittently, along with mulch, to keep mites away.

Leaffooted bugs are showing up on ripening fruits, and these insects specialize in eating seeds. The adults are harder to manage, but the nymph and egg stages are easily controlled with insecticidal soap, stopping new generations from becoming adults.
Leaffooted bug nymph
Leaffooted bug nymph
Photo courtesy of UC Davis IPM


Read our Summer Pest Series for advice about other unwelcome visitors you may be seeing in your garden:
Pest S.O.S–12 Most Common Summer Pests, Part 1
Pest S.O.S–12 Most Common Summer Pests, Part 2
Pest S.O.S–12 Most Common Summer Pests, Part 3

Our gurus recommend that you allow some “bad” insects to feed the ladybugs and hummingbirds. When you invite these beneficial predators, they return the favor by patrolling your yard every hour, of every day, to keep your garden in a healthy balance.
Attracting Beneficial Insects
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