Does Your Garden Breed Trouble?

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Everyone likes a garden that is clean and neat. Weeding, thinning, and cultivating are necessary tasks for every gardener who takes pride in keeping their garden in proper order. 

However, in almost every garden, large or small, there is apt to be a corner where grass clippings, dead weeds, and similar debris are placed either for a temporary period or to make a mulch. 

Trouble Garden BreedPin

Very often, rocks, stones, paper, and old boards eventually find their way to such a convenient dumping ground. Under conditions such as this, the garden breeds trouble. 

Besides being unsightly, these piles offer a perfect breeding ground for numerous garden enemies. To be sure, the grass clippings and other vegetation will make a suitable mulch. 

Still, such matter should be turned over at intervals, and all foreign matter should be removed to ensure it is against the breeding of various insects.

Garden Slugs

Garden slugs, which measure from 5” to 6” inches in length, feed by night and eat large ragged holes in all sorts of flowers. In cold frames or hotbeds, they attack and destroy the young seedlings.

With an undisturbed pile of mulch or debris at their disposal, they will hide from sight by daylight and commence their destruction in the garden shortly after sunset. 

Old boards, rocks, paper, and most anything allowed to lie for a long time will house garden slugs.

They are capable of great destruction; removing debris and the mulch pile is necessary to check their activity. The mulch can be transferred to a new location from time to time.

Years ago, when I was in knee pants and learning about gardening the hard way, I watched in amazement as my mother and grandmother hunted slugs. 

So many were there in our vicinity that I remember seeing them in the old-fashioned dirt cellar of our house.

Method To Destroy Slugs

However, the slugs, bold as they were, did not live long enough to cause any particular damage. My grandmother, armed with a box of ordinary table salt, would pour a substantial amount on the pests, and within a few minutes, they would dissolve before our eyes.

This method of destroying slugs is simple, practical, and economical. However, it does pay to remove the breeding places and keep the garden clean. In damp areas, the threat of garden slugs is doubled.

They cannot survive if they cannot find some cover. Thus, the gardener’s attention to the mulch pile and any form of debris in or near the garden will discourage them.

Using poisons against them or garden pests is not advisable, at least where domestic pets or children are apt to contact them. If the salt trick fails or does not appeal to the gardener, using a shovel or a hoe as a weapon will do as well.


Snails are close relatives of slugs, practically; the only physical difference is wearing a hard shell. 

Removal by hand is the best method to dispose of them. The yellow-white eggs can be found in mosses in dark, damp places and are easy to destroy.

Sowbugs, or “pillbugs,” are common in the garden. These are the bugs we often find underneath stones and boards and under piles of wet grass. 

They are about a ½” inch in length and are dark gray. When exposed to the sun. Some species will roll themselves up into a pill shape, thus giving themselves the nickname “pillbugs.”

Their special food seems to be carnations and sweet peas, but they will also readily attack many other plants. In greenhouses, they appear under damp pots and underneath the floor planking.

Here again, the best method of control is to remove all rubbish. In the greenhouse, the planks can be raised and the floor cleaned at intervals, depending on the dampness and the number of noticed pests.


Millipedes or “thousand-legs” are often found in decaying organic matter such as manure. These strange pests are not insects; insects never have more than six legs. 

Rather, they are worm-like creatures, being brown, reddish-brown, or gray and having hard shells. Principally night workers, too, hide daily under any form of refuse within their reach.

Their fondest choice for a hide-out is any damp, decaying organic matter; they are found in great numbers here. 

They are difficult to catch or kill, as they run rapidly when disturbed, and it would be wise to burn all dead leaves, papers, weeds, and other similar matter.

If it is necessary to maintain a pile of manure on the premises, it should be kept some distance away from the garden. 

Millipedes will often bore into several plants’ roots, tubers, and stems. They live on freshly planted seeds and eat leaves and fruits that come in contact with the ground. Bum and destroy all possible breeding places. 

A dead tree or stump is an invitation to termites. Even though termites, for the most part, will attack old buildings and rotten wood, they can also become dangerous garden pests.

They will breed in dead stumps and trees, enter the ground, and attack the living roots of shrubs, plants, and trees. Wounded or dying roots offer food for them, and once they feed on them, they follow through to the live wood.

Worker Termites

The worker termites we are concerned with are white, soft-bodied, wingless insects and are not true ants, as many people think. They are about ¼” of an inch long.

Careful pruning of all dead or dying branches on shrubs and trees will do much in controlling termites. The removal of dead stumps is, of course, very practical. 

The yellow wooly bear is a caterpillar pest that welcomes decaying leaves and all sorts of trash for a home and breeding ground. 

Attacking almost every garden plant, it devours the leaves, stems, and buds, leaving the plants ragged and drooping.

This hairy caterpillar makes from 20 to 30 cocoons under a trash pile, and almost always, everyone will hatch since it is an extremely hardy species. 

Its favorite plants are the following:

  • Moonflower
  • Morning glory
  • Petunia
  • Salvia
  • Snapdragon
  • Verbena
  • Violet
  • Hollyhock
  • Dahlia
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Sunflower

If the trash pile is not checked, the wooly bear is likely to overrun the garden. It is unusually active during July and August and into September.

How To Protect Your Garden

These six common garden pests are widely distributed. Each will threaten plants of all types where refuse is allowed to stand. 

The cleaner the garden, the less chance of any devastation from them. They are inclined to be active from early spring to late autumn. 

To add to the beauty and protection of your garden, keep everything clean. Remove all refuse and destroy it. 

There is no need to let your garden breed trouble. Instead, protect your plants by gaining a permanent victory over every breeding place. It takes effort, but the results are worth it.

44659 by Charles E. Booth