Drought is a serious issue for any region, and the residents of California have had a lot of experience with the problem. The lack of precipitation increases the effort it takes to keep a garden thriving. Droughts and pest problems in the garden can go together, so here is what homeowners need to know about how the two conditions affect each other.
Plants Become Vulnerable
Trees, shrubs, and plants weakened by drought have less ability to fight off insect attacks. Some insects can sense a vulnerable plant. For example, resins normally repel beetles, but the resin level drops in underwatered plants and makes them a target. Many pests also carry diseases that spread to the plants and destroy whatever remains when the insects leave.
Careful watering helps to reduce plant stress. Water the garden early in the morning or late in the evening. In instances where there are water restrictions, use the resources wisely. Rather than applying a little water a few times a day, a more helpful solution is to water only once a day so the soil gets more saturated and the water sinks deeper into the ground.
There are drought-tolerant plants that are also pest-resistant. Replace other flowers or shrubs with these plants to reduce the risk of pest damage and lower the amount of water the garden needs. Wait until the drought eases and more water is in the soil before transplanting anything in a garden.
Repellants Stop Working
Systemic insecticides are those that go into the soil to enable them to travel through the root system. The method keeps the chemicals off the exterior of the plant to limit its exposure to people and animals.
Unfortunately, systemic insecticides rely on plants having proper nourishment and water for its distribution through the plant. The process could fail to work when there is a drought. The insecticide may not spread evenly throughout the plant tissue, and pests that feed on the plants could continue to do so without harm.
Only a few research studies on the extent of the problem exist. Gardeners that rely on systemic insecticides need to have an awareness of the potential for trouble during periods of drought and look for alternative solutions if an invasion begins.
Pests Increase Activity
Insects, as well as rodents and snakes, may become more visible when there is a shortage of water. Homeowners may notice an increase in the population of pests around their home because of the need of the creatures to search out moisture. The pests look out for any source of water, and a recently misted garden, morning dew, or rainwater collection systems are easy targets.
Insect migrations during a drought bring in pests that people do not always see in their area and may not be prepared on their own to control. It could also mean insects arrive earlier and begin their damage before the homeowner expects anything to happen.
Protect yourself by wearing light-colored clothing when gardening because it makes it easier to spot pests climbing on clothes and to get rid of them before entering the house. Bare skin is also a target for biting insects, so cover up as much as possible.
Consider using a bug-repellant mulch around the gardens. The mulch can help to keep moisture in the soil but also keep away plant-damaging and annoying pests. Cedar and Cyprus mulches deter some types of ants, moths, and beetles. They may also keep away termites and cockroaches.
Most homeowners can control a few beetles or aphids, but when things get out of control it may take professional help to solve the problem. At Monterey Bay Pest Control Inc., we have experience with pests inside and outside of homes and can help to make the struggle of gardening during a drought a little easier. Contact us to schedule an appointment.