Pest Management

How to Manage the Most Common Pests for Blackberries Organically in Your Backyard Vegetable Garden

Blackberries pest header

Blackberry bushes are fairly easy to grow and are well worth the reward! Luckily there are few pests that bother these bushes and many organic options to help manage them!

birds-header
Birds can be both a pest and an ally in the garden. Birds help with pest control eating a wide variety of insects including aphids, caterpillars, mosquitos, and spiders. On the downside, they will also steal seeds and eat your tomatoes!

Treatment Options:

  • You can protect your seeds by covering them with a layer of burlap or shade cloth. I typically hold it down with a hardware mesh panel because that’ll help keep cats out as well.
  • Automated motion-activated sprinklers are a great way to keep birds off of a particular area.
  • Bird netting will keep birds off of your tomatoes, berries, and other fruits!
  • Scare tape will also help keep birds away from problem areas.
  • We also have a couple of fake owls stationed around the garden that are meant to scare birds away. Be sure to move them around every day or so, or the birds will figure out your trick!
deer-header
Birds can be both a pest and an ally in the garden. Birds help with pest control eating a wide variety of insects including aphids, caterpillars, mosquitos, and spiders. On the downside, they will also steal seeds and eat your tomatoes!

Treatment Options:

  • You can protect your seeds by covering them with a layer of burlap or shade cloth. I typically hold it down with a hardware mesh panel because that’ll help keep cats out as well.
  • Automated motion-activated sprinklers are a great way to keep birds off of a particular area.
  • Bird netting will keep birds off of your tomatoes, berries, and other fruits!
  • Scare tape will also help keep birds away from problem areas.
  • We also have a couple of fake owls stationed around the garden that are meant to scare birds away. Be sure to move them around every day or so, or the birds will figure out your trick!
earwig-header
The most characteristic feature of this fast-moving reddish-brown to black insect is the pair of approximately an inch long pincers at the tip of a long abdomen. Earwigs thrive in tight, dark, moist places such as under stones, in mulch, soil, (compost & vermicompost bins), and anywhere there is an accumulation of plant debris. They are nocturnal and are harmless to people. Earwigs have a varied diet and can actually benefit gardeners by digesting organic matter and devouring soil-borne pests, aphids, snails, insect larvae; but they will feed on vegetable seedlings as well and can cause significant damage to plants.

Treatment Options:

fruitworms-header
Fruit worms can be extremely aggravating to deal with. Prevention is key with these pesky critters! It is important to work to try and prevent these from ruining your fruit.

Treatment Options:

  • Removing all the surrounding debris and weeds from around your trees or bushes can help to prevent egg laying by the moths.
  • Hand picking infected fruits and disposing of them can help prevent spread of the worms.
  • Use the organic pesticide, BTK (bacillus thuringiensis Kurstaki). BTK is a naturally occurring microorganism that sickens and kills caterpillars without harming butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. There are varied opinions regarding the safety of BTK, but it’s classified as an organic treatment and is certainly safer than using a more toxic pesticide.
  • Beneficial insects can be very helpful with this pest as well! Lacewings and ladybugs attack the eggs and the smaller larvae. Parasitic wasps can attack the worm itself (if it can get to it). Praying mantises can kill the adult moths before they lay their eggs.
  • The fruit worm comes from a moth that lays its eggs into fruit. Catching the moths that lay these eggs can help to prevent a worm problem in the future.
leaffootedbug-header
Leaf-footed bugs are approximately 1 inch long, some with a white zigzag pattern on their wings. They have long legs similar to a cricket with an oval shaped body. They are recognizable by their hind legs which look leaf-like. They have piercing mouthparts which probe into plants to suck their juices. This can cause discoloration and damage to the plants.

Treatment Options:

  • Hand-picking and squishing or placing them in a soapy water bucket is a great way to get rid of these pests.
  • Companion planting can help deter leaf-footed bugs. Sunflowers are especially good at attracting these pests away from other plants.
  • Another good prevention is to remove excess weeds and grass around the garden areas as this can help to attract them.
  • Placing insect netting (floating row covers) over your garden is the best way to prevent leaf-footed bugs from attacking your plants.
  • Diatomaceous earth can also be laid down around your garden to help get rid of them.
  • Put your beneficial critters to work! Attract or relocate certain critters to try and help battle your leaf-footed bugs. Leaf-footed bug predators include tachinid flies, birds, spiders, assassin bugs, snakes, lizards, and frogs.
  • Applying neem oil can also be effective for the nymph stage of leaf-footed bugs. Make sure not to apply the neem oil when the temperature is above 90, or else you could suffocate your plant!
raccoons-header
Raccoons are huge corn-lovers, and they will destroy the corn in your garden in a hurry. Keeping them out of your garden is imperative to protecting your corn.

Treatment Options:

  • Placing a motion-activated sprinkler near where the problem area is will help to scare the raccoons away.
  • Raccoons are scared of larger predators. Applying blood meal around the perimeter of your garden has been shown to deter small mammals. Raccoon repellent, fox urine granules, or even human hair and urine can help to deter them as well.
  • Raccoons can be scared of noises as well. You can leave a radio close to the problem area to try and scare them away.
  • They can also be deterred by a mixture of garlic and chili powder sprinkled around the problem areas.
  • You can also set up a small animal cage trap to catch the raccoon if all else fails!
raspberryvineborers-header
Raspberry cane borers are a beetle that especially loves to feed on your berries. You can tell you have a problem if you notice wilting in your plants and see rings cut into the stem directly below the wilting.

Treatment Options:

  • As soon as you notice the issue, simply remove the portion of the affected plant and throw in the trash or burn.
squirrels-header
These small rodents can be challenging and can destroy a garden! They can be pesky, so trial and error is important to see what works best for your visitors.

Treatment Options:

  • Stationing a fake owl or scarecrows around the garden are helpful tricks to scare away squirrels. Be sure to move them around every day or so, or they might figure out your trick!
  • A motion-activated sprinkler in the problem areas can help to scare away your squirrels as well.
  • Squirrels are scared of larger predators. Applying blood meal around the perimeter of your garden has been shown to deter small mammals. Squirrel repellent, fox urine granules, or even human hair and urine can help to deter them as well.
  • Cats and dogs are effective hunters of squirrels and other small rodents! Even just their smell and presence in the yard can help to keep them out of your gardens.
  • Squirrels dislike strong and spicy smells. Try making an apple cider vinegar spray or sprinkle cayenne pepper around your garden.
  • There are also ultrasonic pest repellers that you place in the ground that send vibrations out to scare them away.
  • If all else fails, you can also set up a live animal cage trap.

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2 thoughts on “How to Manage the Most Common Pests for Blackberries Organically in Your Backyard Vegetable Garden

  1. As with roses, proper pruning and removal of foliar debris from the ground in winter is important to control foliar diseases. It is impossible to remove all of the overwintering spores from the soil, but removal of the debris eliminates much of the material that the spores ovewinter in. The main problem that I notice with cane berries is that they do not get pruned enough.

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