GARDENING | Keep an eye out for sap suckers and leaf eaters this spring

With spring time also comes insects. Picture: Shutterstock.
With spring time also comes insects. Picture: Shutterstock.

It's official ... spring has finally sprung.

Gardeners have been champing at the bit for a few weeks now and the wait is finally over.

Spring brings everyone out into the garden including the pests, no not the neighbours' kids, the insects.

Pests seem to appear almost overnight, but the fact is they have probably been lurking in your garden over winter; pupating in the soil or in egg cases laid in the bark of trees or on the underside of leaves.

Insect pests fall into two main groups, the sap suckers and the leaf eaters.

The sap suckers are often quite small and can go unnoticed until their numbers build, which can occur quite rapidly if left unchecked.

Aphids are good examples and soft spring growth is particularly prone to attack.

Watch for aphids on the new growth of roses, citrus and vegetables. Application of a soap spray such as Naturasoap or a pyrethrin-based insecticide will take care of most early outbreaks.

Check closely though as there are likely to be predatory insects or their larvae feeding on the aphids. These are to be encouraged in gardens by planting flowers, and allowing a few plants to go to flower in the vegie patch such as carrots, pak choy, broccoli to encourage predatory insects.

Correctly identifying insect pests causing damage to plants is critical before attempting any form of control.

If in doubt seek professional advice and consider the environment before using any chemical sprays.

Often spraying is not necessary as the beneficial insects such as praying mantis, wasps, hover fly, lace wing and lady bird beetle larvae will keep some pest control for you.

Even spiders are great to have around the garden and are of no concern if you just leave them be.

Common leaf eaters in the garden are easy to identify by the damage they cause.

Holes in the leaves or shredded sections along the leaf margin are sure signs. Chewers such as caterpillars will make short work of your vegetable crops and newly planted seedlings.

To control these pests Caterpillar Killer, a naturally derived product made from bacteria is harmful to caterpillars but safe to humans and other organisms.

Keep a watchful eye on those other chewers, the snails and slugs, particularly in the veggie patch and flower borders. Where possible control chewers by hand picking before resorting to any chemical alternatives.