Pest Management

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

Blueberry pests header
Blueberry bushes are a great addition to your garden! These bushes are easy to grow and care for and thrive in acidic soil. You may need to add an acidifier to the soil to help these bushes thrive in your garden. They will not produce fruit until it is a couple years old, but patience is a virtue! Enjoy these tasty berries! Pests can give you a few issues, but you can solve them fairly easy by following the steps below!
aphids-header

Aphids are tiny insects that can usually be found in groups on the undersides of leaves and stems. A few aphids can’t do much, but they reproduce quickly, are born pregnant, and can take over a plant in no time at all!

Treatment Options:

  • Spray aphids off leaves with a blast of water from the sprayer and repeat as necessary for a few days
  • Ladybugs are valuable ally and can be purchased to help with aphid control. Make sure you release them at night on plants that are infested with aphids, and it wouldn’t hurt to provide a source of water as well. They will quickly mate and lay their eggs, resulting in alligator-shaped larvae hatching and devouring aphids. A single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids in their lifetime!
  • Green lacewing larvae are voracious predators of many soft bodied insect pests, including several species of aphids, spider mitesthripswhitefliesleafhoppers, and others.
    • Buy Green Lacewings on Amazon!
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!
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.
japanesebeetles-header
Japanese beetles, or june bugs, are metallic green with bronze wing covers. The larvae of the beetle, called grubs, are white with a brown head. The adults eat and attack foliage, fruits, and flowers while the grubs eat the roots of your plants.

Treatment Options:

  • Hand-picking and placing the beetle in a soapy water bucket is a great way to get rid of these pests.
  • Companion planting plants with a strong odor, such as garlic, can help to deter adults from eating the foliage.
  • Milky spore has been shown to be one of the best treatments for killing the grubs that will eventually grow up into june bugs. After applying these naturally occurring white spores to the ground, the grubs will ingest the bacteria and die within a few weeks.
  • Insect netting is one of the easiest way to prevent insect damage on your plants!
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth over areas you want to protect. Be careful though: DE can harm beneficial insects as well if they come in contact with it.
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!
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!
  • 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 repellentfox 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.
stinkbugs-header

Adult stink bugs are green or brown and grow up to ¾” long; they have distinctive shield-shaped bodies.  Young stink bugs are smaller, rounder, and more colorful, with highly patterned black, red, white, and green colored bodies.

When held or squished they emit a foul-smelling fluid from glands located on the thorax. It’s released as a defensive mechanism and can be a nuisance, especially, if found in clusters.  Populations peak in late summer and early fall.
 
Treatment Options:
  • Hand-picking bugs and tossing them in soapy water is one of the best ways to ensure that they are removed. Stink bugs do not bite or sting, but they will live up to their name when handled or squished!
  • Keep area weeded
  • Have insect netting (floating row covers) in place to help prevent infestation.
  • Placing yellow sticky traps out in your garden can help.There are also several beneficial predators that can help you in the garden with these pests too! Birdsspiders, wheel bugs, assassin bugs, parasitic insects, ladybugs, minute pirate bugs, and lacewings can help to keep your thrips away.
thrips-header
Thrips are tiny straw-colored insects with two pairs of wings. They can damage plants by sucking out their juices causing discoloration and even death!

Treatment Options:

  • As with most pests, the best solution is prevention. Placing a floating row cover with insect netting will help to prevent these critters from eating your plants.
  • Another good prevention is to remove excess weeds and grass around the garden areas as this can help to attract them.
  • Placing blue sticky traps around your garden can help to catch these thrips and alert to a possible issue.
  • You can use neem oil as well to help control thrips. Make sure to not apply the neem oil though when the temperature is above 90, or else you could suffocate your plant!
  • There are also several beneficial insects that can help you in the garden with these pests too! Minute pirate bugs, ladybugs, and lacewings can help to keep your thrips away.
 

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One thought on “How to Manage the Most Common Pests for Blueberries Organically in Your Backyard Vegetable Garden

  1. Not only the aphid as wicked as typical for this time of year, but the thrip were really nasty in the rhododendrons. I don’t do anything for the thrip this late. The damage is mostly done for the year. They return annually, but like any other infestation, they have good years, and bad years. This was a bad year for them.

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