Summer is high time for garden pests to be bugging you—quite literally! In late summer, wasps and vine weevil are especially troublesome. But don’t let them get the better of you—there are plenty of ways to get rid of these pests without breaking a sweat.
Adult wasps, like butterflies, feed using a long tube a bit like a drinking straw. This means they cannot eat solid food but instead get all their energy from liquid. Since they need massive amounts of energy to fly, they prefer high energy, sugary fluids.
In nature, this means feeding on nectar, honey and juice from fallen fruit. A perfect alternative, however, is a sweet fizzy drink—which is why you end up with a cloud of these pests around you when you have one of these in a pub garden.
This is especially true of social wasps in late summer when the food within their colony is running out.
Things to try
So, what can you do to keep wasps at bay?
The most practical thing to do if you still want to enjoy a sweet drink outside is to switch to diet drinks which do not contain sugar.
These are far less attractive to wasps than the real deal, so you should see a reduction in how much they bother you straight away.
Another tip is to avoid wearing white or yellow when out in your garden since these colours generally attract insect pests.
Fragranced perfumes, aftershaves and hair products should also be avoided. These can fool wasps into thinking you’re a flower rich in nectar, instead of a person who just smells like one!
You can also plant to deter wasps from entering your garden.
Choose herbs, such as Spearmint, Thyme and Lemongrass, which wasps can’t stand and which will double up as flavouring in your home cooking.
Alternatively, go for flowers such as Pennyroyals, Geraniums and Marigolds.
These plants smell nasty to wasps at the same time as producing beautiful blooms for you to admire.
You can also make pest traps using old plastic bottles.
Simply remove the lid, cut off the top half of the bottle and invert it to form a funnel. Fill the base of the bottle with a sugary solution and place it somewhere prominent.
Wasps will fly in to get at the sugar and be unable to escape.
To stop bees from falling foul of the trap, add some vinegar to your liquid, which will put bees off entering the trap, but not wasps.
If all else fails, put up a pretend wasp’s nest. Wasps are highly territorial creatures who will launch an aggressive attack on unfamiliar wasps near their nest. Since wasps know this, they will avoid another wasp colony’s territory at all costs.
Buy one or make one out of paper maché with the kids and then hang it beneath the eaves of your house.
See my blog Top 3 Wasp Deterrents for detailed instructions.
Vine weevil is a pest that feeds on a range of decorative plants, especially pot-grown varieties. You’ll know you’ve got vine weevil if plant leaves look like they’ve been nibbled at the edges.
At this time of year, adult bugs and grubs are both about, but it’s the grubs you need to worry about most, since the adults will soon die off, while grubs continue to feed on plant roots throughout winter.
Inspecting pot plants regularly and physically removing adult weevils will help to prevent eggs from being laid on your plants.
Shake plants over an upturned umbrella or a sheet of newspaper to collect and remove weevils.
You can also treat plants with sprays from your local garden centre to keep vine weevil at bay.
Another option is to encourage the garden bouncers to come and do a clean up operation for you.
Birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs and ground beetles will all eat vine weevil adults and grubs, saving you the hassle of removing them yourself.
Attracting birds to your garden is not only easy but will also add to the look of your garden.
Add a bird bath and a feeder containing wild bird seed and keep them topped up and you’ll soon see an increase in feathered friends.
If you have a pond, leaving water untreated will help to make it friendly to frogs and toads.
Hedgehogs travel up to two miles per night in search of food. Make your garden available to them by creating a 12cm2 space at the bottom of your boundary (aka a hedgehog highway).
Attract them by being a little unkempt—leave log piles lying about, spread leaf litter through borders and let an area of the garden go wild.
Incidentally, this untidiness is also excellent for attracting the ground beetles that will also prey upon pests like vine weevil. So you get two for the price of one!
Put these methods to good use and tell these pests to bug off this summer!
Avoid getting stubborn dirt under your nails while gardening by running your fingernails down a bar of soap before you start. Once finished, wash the soap away and presto! Completely dirt-free nails.
My trees have gone brown due to the long hot summer we’ve been having. What should I do?
It’s very important not to cut trees back that are under stress due to the heat as this could stress them even more. Instead, focus on giving them a good, long drink over several hours. With a hosepipe ban in effect, the best method is to sink an upturned plastic bottle, with holes in its lid and the base cut away, into the ground next to the tree and keep filling this reservoir up so that it can slowly seep down to the tree’s roots. This will help the tree to recover.
My hanging basket has died in the heat, but it’s too early for autumn plants, what do you suggest?
There are plenty of summer bedding plants that will give you fantastic colour in your hanging baskets right up until the first frost. Chrysanthemums, pansies and violas all fall into this category. Another great option is to plant a herb basket, using sage, basil and thyme, which will not only look great but be functional too. Another idea is simply to visit your local garden centre—many will now have plants on offer that will actually last well into autumn.