FAQ’s: Pests Why are some leaves disappearing? If entire leaves are disappearing overnight, you likely have a rodent or foraging herbivore problem before anything else. Use chicken wire fencing that is fine enough to prevent their entrance into your garden bed. You could also have a bad case of the squash bugs if you are growing some variety of squash! See below for solutions. How do you get rid of squash bugs? These are some of the trickiest pests. The best way to avoid them is to prevent them initially. Plant marigolds around your squash as protection to deter and distract them. If they reach the plant, you will need to remove them by hand. Pick them off in the morning and evening. If the squash bug enters your plant, you can also use a small blade to make an incision in the stem and then remove them by hand. How do you get rid of aphids? Get rid of these with the addition of more bugs – ladybugs! You can order them online and sometimes purchase them at your local garden supply store. Be sure to place the ladies on a plant that has the aphids. Don’t be disheartened if they leave the plant and fly onto another area of your harden. They will return and stay where the “food” is to eliminate the aphids fairly quickly. How do you get rid of ants? Fire ants are a common issue around USC. One of our favorite solutions is dousing the anthills with boiling water. It will kill the pests on contact. Each hill will probably take three to four good pots of boiling water to terminate the colony. To prevent their return, sprinkle grits on the area. Of course, another favorite is diatomaceous earth, a fine powder made of ground up diatoms (a microscopic ocean organism). Dust the area with a baster or flour sifter, making sure to sprinkle in the surrounding are as well. What are the tiny black bugs that look like ants and how do you get rid of them? These little pests are called spider mites. The best solution is a saltwater solution: dissolve half a teaspoon salt per cup of water and spray on the plant. Be careful not to do this too often as it will dry out the plant and increase chances for soil salinization. How can I prevent all pests? Although there is no cure-all, the best solution is to plan for them by planting pest preventors like aromatic herbs and plants (i.e. basil, oregano, garlic, onions). You can also get rid of many crawlers with diatomaceous earth, a fine powder made of ground up diatoms (a microscopic ocean organism). Neem oil is a good pest preventer too; it’s so great that even commercial pesticides include it in the mix! Make sure it is very well diluted to one drop oil per cup of water before spraying it on the plant. Neem oil is a good anti-fungal as well and can be sprayed on plants with downy mildew and other fungal diseases. I think I have a thief - what should I do about humans? The best planning method is to plant for the pest, the thief and for you. If you are limited to a small bed and cannot plant multiple plants of the same variety without sacrificing your overall bed variety, fencing and kind signs are great options. A painted stone with a reminder that the food is grown with love and great effort may be just enough to make someone think again before picking that ripe tomato.