Common Garden Pests: Control & Identification

Every garden is susceptible to a pest invasion - tucking into foliage, feasting on the vegetable patch and burrowing through the bedding. So, what can you do about them?

By Sacha Markin


Ants are a common pest in the garden, especially on the lawn, sandy ground, plants and fruit trees. They are prolific when it comes to creating nests and usually do so in a sunny area of the garden. They actually do little serious damage to plants, although they can be a nuisance and weaken both garden and greenhouse plants.

How To Treat Ants

Have a dust around plants and along runs with a good ant killer powder or spray, which are widely available. For chemical-free ant control, homemade pest repellents provide the best form of prevention, and there are certain smells they detest. Try out mint, camphor and clove oil. You can also grow your own ant repellent in the vegetable garden, by mixing hot peppers in a blender with a bit of water to create a thick mash, which you can spread in problem areas. Use a stiff brush to remove ant hills in the lawn.

Black & Greenfly (Aphids)

Greenfly or blackfly - also known as aphids - are a major plant pest, sucking the sap of many plants. These small green or brown insects gather on shoot tips, flower buds and the undersides of young leaves, and are very common on all types of plants. They can also deposit a sticky honeydew on which disease spores can stick, and leaves may twist or yellow.

How To Treat Aphids

Tackle aphids as soon as they are spotted. Spray with a greenfly killer insecticide or, for an organic option, as aphids breathe through their skin, spraying with a diluted washing up liquid will clog their skin and cause them to suffocate quickly. For plants which are affected outdoors, try to encourage birds with seeds and tables near plants at risk from aphids as they will feast away.

Bulb Fly (Daffodil & Narcissus Bulb Fly)

This small black and brown fly swoops just as the foliage is dying down on the bulbs, after flowering, and lays eggs in the crown of the bulb. The eggs hatch and become the maggot, which bores down into the bulb to feed on the inside. Daffodil and narcissus bulbs become soft, squidgy and rotten when the inside is eaten out by the fly's maggot, and very few leaves or flowers will be produced.

How To Treat Bulb Fly

Eliminate bulb flies with a strong mixture of insecticides and water, or for organic control, apply diatomaceous earth, available at garden centres, to help control freshly hatched grubs. Consider covering over the planting after bloom with a lightweight garden cover, such as fine netting.

For More On Pest Control

How To Get Rid Of Rats
The RHS Top 10 Garden Pest List

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