Our 2021 Garden Bugs

We have mistakenly used the wrong soil. I really don’t want to throw any names out there, but its a top shelf brand.

Never in our years of gardening have we ever had this many issues with bugs! 🐛

Aphids, beetles, and fungus gnats have primarily been our biggest challenge. On top of those, you add in the fungal problems like damping off, and I could just scream. The bugs were so bad, we actually decided to go organic, because we really ran out of other options.

We did nearly everything we could to chemically rid ourselves of these pests. Peroxide, diatomaceous earth, neem oil. Peppermint, companion planting, 7 dust, triazicide, garden safe spray, terro. And a handful of other things. We really couldn’t get these guys under control. We even tried letting the soil dry out to rid ourselves of the fungus gnats.

I’m pretty sure the drying out nearly killed all our plants, and maybe did kill some, but no more than the unexpected freeze.

But what do you do? I can only do so much peroxide and DE. And neem. Of course we had to ditch alot of our veggies because of all the sprays and chemical’ and that is just not sustainable.

It was not working. So, we decided to basically “give up” and let nature take its course. We purchased nematodes and lacewings. Ladybugs seem extremely expensive this year, so we just hoped we could generate some naturally (Which worked).

The lady bugs even laid eggs (and have since hatched) so I’m super stoked.

Hornworm on Trinidad Scorpion Peppers

I got excited the next day, when the ladybug eggs “disappeared ” and there were virtually no aphids left on the plant.

There are definitely eggs of some sort, but…yeah, huge improvement.

We also bought lacewings, and I’m pretty confident they made a difference, it just wasn’t enough, right from the start. Apparently it takes time to let the balance happen.

Lacewing larvae going after spider mites. Sorry it’s shaking, they are tough to track!

Overall, everything we are doing seems to help MORE than the bug sprays They actually weren’t doing any good at all. The ants however’ are still a challenge. I will be spending alot of time getting rid of ants before the next season.

As winter approaches, we are still having some bug problems. Got to enjoy seeing some butterfly transformations, even though they devastated the parsley.

This winter, the plan is to to sterilize the beds and the crappy soil. We will obviously have to start over again with the good bugs, but I kind of hope they starve because we have eliminated a lot of the bad bugs, and I won’t feel guilty for murdering them. As it stands right now, I’m debating the sterilization plan.

Aphids– super damaging soft bodied butt-heads who leave honeydew on the plant leaves. The ants are attracted to the honeydew, and protect (they will fight for the aphids) and farm them. The first line of defense for an aphid infestation is to get rid of the ants. The ants are soldiers for the aphids. Our biggest challenge has really been getting control of the ants. We are trying to eliminate them from the outside in, but its been pretty difficult considering the amount of woods we have, and the fact that we did not really treat the entire yard for ants on a regular basis. That is changing NOW!

Japanese Beetles: These beetles are actually pretty. But can be devastating to a garden. They took a liking to one of the marigold plants which allowed me to capture them before they got to the vegetable plants. They also went after the sunflowers pretty hard. Around August 1st or so, we just stopped seeing them, but did catch a grainy video of what I think is a parasitic wasp having a beetle dinner.

Mites: I’m just going to include ALL mites here, because are literally so tiny we cannot see them to verify any defining details. There are some really red ones, so I’m guessing those are spider mites. Just thinking about mites makes me itch. The lacewings did a great job at reducing the numbers, but we still ended up purchasing the “predatory mites” from Natures Good Guys.

We aren’t 100% positive, but I think these are mites starting out

The above video was taken BEFORE the mite infestation. I’m not sure if these are actually mites, but the mites appeared the day after. This is taken with a cell phone, so..no fancy up close pics but I’m really curious what they are. It was also after heavy rains. After releasing the lacewings, the mites have decreased significantly. The aphids have decreased some, but the mites are significantly reduced.

Fungus Gnats– when I tell you, we have had so many problems with this new soil, I am serious. I have never learned so much about bugs before now. The fungus gnats are nearly impossible to get rid of. We pretty much had to starve and dehydrate our plants to knock out the population OUTSIDE. I think we lost about 15 plants, purely to fungus gnats. Even house plants still had fungus gnats after 2 weeks of no water. Never ever, and had no idea to “sterilize” good soil prior to planting. We will not make that mistake again Peroxide, yellow sticky traps, neem oil, and repeat. Then some diatomaceous earth for good measure, and we STILL SEE GNATS. we pretty much stopped selling any plants because of these gnats.

All in all, it had been a great year for learning. We still had a fantastic harvest and more produce than we knew what to do with. I really don’t want to sterilize the beds now that everything is running smoothly. We still have bugs. Alot of bugs, good and bad. That is pretty normal. Thankfully, the infestations are OVER. At least I hope they are. 😳

We used Ortho Bug B Gone in the yard and around the beds. The ortho product out performed the Triazide to the point that there really is no comparison. After heavy rains, the ants returned, but it didn’t appear as bad as it was.

Im posting links to most of the products we used, but we DON’T get paid for these links fyi.

I learned sooo much this year about bugs. And I know there is so much more to learn. I’m sure next year, I will have a whole new handful of bugs to figure out, but for now, I’m enjoying my winter break from bug hunting, and working on getting the lawn treated to avoid grubs, Army worms and any larvae that might become something else. Our lawn was hit pretty hard with Army worms this year, so I’m trying to get ahead of those guys .

So that’s a summary of 2021. I really could go on for days. Now we can move into the Greenhouse, with the bugs and all sorts of new things for us!

Thanks for reading! 😁