5 Tips and Tricks for Keeping Bugs Out of THE Garden

Mom in the garden

Here in Colorado, the general rule of thumb is not to plant outdoor flowers or veggies until Mother’s Day, because well, we could get a blizzard. This leads to many people starting vegetable gardens in the home and moving them outside. Before you move your plants to the backyard, here are five tips and tricks for keeping bugs out of your garden.

Birds

We have some beautiful birds in Colorado, and they can be attracted to your yard all year round. Keeping a bird bath and feeder can help attract some colorful and very helpful visitors to your yard. Birds eat everything from ticks to Japanese beetles, which have grown in population along the Front Range for over 100 years. Not a native to the United States, the Japanese Beetle has few predators, you being one of them. Some people like to get chickens to help eat bugs in the garden. Chickens may eat your vegetable garden though, so beware. Also be sure to check your local regulations regarding chickens. Roosters for example, are not allowed in Colorado Springs city limits. 

Beneficial Bugs

Most people know that while annoying, not all bugs are “bad.” Spiders for example help catch and rid our home of several bad bugs, but that doesn’t mean you want to invite Charlotte and her many children (spiders can have up to 4,000 babies in their lifetime, check out our article on weird mating habits) to your home. Ladybugs are a great friend to your garden, and who can argue at their cuteness level.  Ladybugs and praying mantis love to eat aphids and the larva of other garden pests. Aphids are one of our biggest pests in the garden. Many garden nurseries sell ladybug colonies.

Plant Garlic & Onion

Garlic not only keeps the vampires at bay, but it also helps out your garden. Planting onion and garlic in between plants that are loved by pests will help keep them away. We have several burrowing pests in the Pikes Peak Region, like voles and the pocket gopher. Planting a circle of these smelly crops around fruit trees will help keep these pests away as well. Not only is garlic and onion beneficial to your garden, but also adds a tasty addition to your garden.  A fun side note, birds do not have taste buds but squirrels do. Help keep squirrels out of your bird food by utilizing hot peppers. The “heat” in peppers is caused by capsaicin and only mammals feel the heat. 

Plant Flowers & Herbs

Some beneficial plants to add to your garden that aren’t garlic and onion include petunias, catnip, and rosemary.  You can plant the lovely petunia flowers near potatoes and beans. These pretty annual flowers keep the Colorado Potato Beetle away.  As you’d imagine, these small striped beetles enjoy eating potato plants but they also enjoy eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes to name a few. Catnip helps keep away aphids. This can, however, attract stray cats in the neighborhood. Lastly, rosemary is a great herb to plant in your garden. Rosemary repels a wide variety of pests including moths, beetles, carrot flies, and even deer. 

Colorado Potato Beetle

Nighttime Hunt

Warmer weather is on its way, so why not grab the kids and go on a nighttime hunt. This can be a fun family bonding activity and a chance to teach your kids about the ecosystem of your garden. We have an abundance of grasshoppers in Colorado, and they tend to lay more eggs when we are in drought conditions. Scientists are predicting a dry few weeks, if not a dry summer, which means a greater number of these hoppy pests. Grasshoppers can eat half their body weight a day, leading to a bare garden very quickly. For example, make a game of it, who can capture the greater number of grasshoppers, or the largest and smallest. If you have any scaly pets, grasshoppers could be a free meal for them, otherwise you can drop the found bugs in soapy water.

Catching bugs not your thing? Consider adding a bat house to your yard. You can build your own or buy one. Bats are nature’s pest control, consuming thousands of bugs every night. When adding a bat house to your property, we suggest not attaching it to a tree or to your home. Placing the bat house on your home could be an invitation to your attic. They should be about 10-15 feet off the ground on a pole. Here are the instructions for building one.

Now that you know some great ways to keep your garden free from pests, go plant your garden. May your thumb be green, and your crops full and delicious! 

As always, we are here for all your pest control needs. Contact us here.

Rise and Shine Sleepy Head 

March and April may be two of the snowiest months in Colorado, but they are also the months when wildlife in Colorado begin to wake from their winter slumber.  

Squirrel looking for food in winter

Food can be difficult to find during our cold Colorado winter months. As the temperature begins to rise and plants begin to come back to life, animals of all kinds begin waking up and looking for food. Bears are best known for their winter hibernation. During the winter, a black bear can lose up to a third of its body weight. Here are some interesting facts about Colorado wildlife and their springtime habits. 

  • The coat of the snowshoe hare changes from white in the winter to brown in the summer. Short tail weasels also molt their brown fur for the winter. 
  • Canadian geese fly south for the winter. South for them? Right here in Colorado! 
  • Several species of bats migrate from Colorado to Mexico for the winter months, while others, like the brown bat, huddle together in large groups and keep each other warm by snuggling together. It is critical for the well-being of these bats to leave them alone in the winter as they can easily starve and freeze to death if disturbed. Bats are great at eating insects during the summer, making our job a little easier during the summer heat. 
A bat in a Colorado cave
  • Many small rodents, like mice, voles, and some species of prairie dogs, stay active year-round. Mice will look for a warm winter location. This means you are more likely to get mice in the house during the winter. That doesn’t mean they will leave when spring arrives, especially if they found a sustainable food source.  
  • Garter snakes are winter hibernators. Read out article about animal mating habits to learn more about the unique mating habits of these snakes commonly found in backyards and parks across Colorado.  
  • Raccoons and skunks do not hibernate; however, they go into a deep sleep to conserve energy. It is about this time of year when we see them becoming more active and on the hunt for food. Warmer weather also means your trash will have an increased smell and attract these little guys. 
Hungry raccoon

You can imagine how hungry many animals are after a cold and sometimes harsh Colorado winter. This sometimes leads to people feeding wildlife. They think it is helping the animals when really it is very harmful for the animal and dangerous for you.  

When wildlife view humans as a source of food, they come around more often. It is for this reason, those in Manitou Springs and anyone west of I-25 in Colorado Springs is required to have a bear-resistant trash can or to keep their trash indoors to prevent bears (and other critters) from enjoying your leftovers. 

Most baby animals are also born in the spring, which means lots of protective mamas. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) gets countless calls each spring about “abandoned baby animals.” More often than not, these babies have been left in a safe place by their mother as she gathers food. Experts suggest you leave the baby animal alone.  You can keep an eye on the baby and if the mother does not return within 24 hours, it is best to call CPW. DO NOT handle the baby on your own. 

Baby deer or fawn

Mama animals look for safe places for their young. Unfortunately, sometimes these spots are your attics, under your porch or even in the walls of your home. Trying to remove them on your own can be dangerous.  

We live in a beautiful state, filled with awesome wildlife watching. But, let wildlife be wild. And keep in mind, if you find your home has become a wildlife bed and breakfast, give us a call.  

Til Death Do Us Part

Weird and Unusual Love Tactics from the Insect World and Animal Kingdom

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, leading us to ask the question, how do insects and animals mate and show affection? Most people know that the female black widow spider kills her mate after courtship, but what about the rest of the insect world? 

We’ve dug up 10 fun facts about love. Wild style! 

  1. Females can be ferocious! Not only do black widows kill their male counterpart, but so does the praying mantis. 
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
  1. Prairie voles are among a rare 3% of animals that mate for life. Males help raise the young and science has found that voles will grieve at the passing of their partner. 
  1. Some snails “love spray” each other. Snails have male and female reproductive parts. Because of this, both snails shoot each other with spiky love darts in an attempt to fertilize the eggs of their partner.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
  1. Researchers in Denmark believe male nursery spiders bring a gift to the female before mating to avoid becoming dinner themselves. 
  1. Male bed bugs stab females in the abdomen with his genitals in an attempt to inseminate her. Ouch! 
  1. Squirrels play hard to get. Male squirrels chase each other and fight to see who wins the right to mate. Then, the female chases the winning male. If he can keep up with her, he wins the right to mate!
Photo credit: Shutterstock
  1. Female spiders can lay over 200 eggs at a time. For example, the common “house” spider averages 250 eggs per sac. In addition, during her life, she may lay as many as 17 sacs, totaling over 4,000 offspring!
  1. Garter snakes mate in a large group. Once the snakes wake from hibernation, the female emits a pheromone. Then, male snakes rush to her and create a “ball” as the males try to get into the correct mating position. 
Photo credit: Shutterstock
  1. Some variations of female porcupines are only available for courting 8-12 hours a YEAR! To court her, the male urinates on her. If she likes the smell, they have a very busy 8-12 hours. 
  1.  Love is in the air! Nope, that is just female skunks refusing to mate with a male. Skunk mating season begins right around Valentine’s Day. As a result, you may expect some unpleasant fragrance in your back yard this month.