5 Common Garden Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

Garden Pests

If you have a garden, you are most likely familiar with the frustration of noticing plants deteriorating and not knowing the reason why.

Some common warning signs you have garden pests are:

  • Holes in foliage
  • Leaves turning yellow or brown
  • Wilted leaves/flowers
  • Folded leaves
  • Slime trails
  • Leaf mines (white patterns on leaves)
  • Holes in fruit and vegetables

While garden pests are unavoidable, keeping a healthy garden by promoting soil health and fertility via regular fertilising is a great way to keep many garden pests away. Charlie Carp’s fertilisers are unique in that they are made from European Carp. The natural fish oils help to deter garden pests while providing nutrition to your garden.

European Carp is a major pest wreaking havoc in Australian waterways. Who knew one pest, in the form of fertiliser, could also help to deter other types of pests from entering your garden.

Early detection of garden pests is essential to protecting your garden. We have provided some common signs to help you identify different garden pests as well as some tips on how to effectively deal with them.


Common Garden Pest #1 Curl Grub

Garden Pest # 1 Curl Grub

Curl grubs are a plump white grub with a grey bottom and orange face. They curl into a ‘C’ shape, making them easy to identify.

These are not a grub you want to find in your garden beds or lawn. Watch out for the following signs, especially in summer.

Signs of Curl Grubs:

  • Brown dying patches of lawn
  • Slumping flowers
  • Dying produce
  • Grass that is easy to pull out

Curl grubs feed on the roots of a wide range of plants, especially grassroots.

Have you ever been frustrated with dead patches of lawn, despite your constant watering?  Discoloured and unhealthy patches of lawn are likely to be the cause of curl grubs. This can be extremely frustrating especially since our lawns are such a major attraction in our gardens.

Dig up a brown patch to about a spade depth and check to see how many grubs are in the soil. Try to dig up a few spots in different locations to understand the extent of the infestation. If there are lots, this means you have a problem.

Control and Prevention Tips:

  • Neem oil can be used to disrupt the curl grub’s growth and development. Once ingested they will stop feeding and die off. Neem oil is safe for beneficial insects as they do not eat the plants you will likely be spraying on. Mix neem oil in a watering can and pour over lawns, garden beds and your pot plants.
  • Introduce nematodes. These microscopic worms carry bacteria that will kill curl grubs and other pests. Nematodes are not harmful to other plants, pets or humans and other beneficial insects. Spray in winter and spring as a preventive measure.
  • Curl grub beetles prefer to lay their eggs in dry and unhealthy grass. Keep your lawn healthy and thick via regular deep watering and using natural lawn fertilisers.

Garden Pest # 2 Aphids

Garden Pest #2 Aphids

Aphids are a very common garden pest. You’ve probably seen their tiny green translucent bodies on some plants around your garden.

Signs of Aphids:

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Curling and misshapen leaves
  • Deformed flowers
  • Stunted and distorted fruit
  • Sticky substance on leaves and stems

Aphids love roses, so if you have noticed that your roses aren’t reaching their full potential with yellowing leaves and deformed flowers, aphids are the likely culprit. When you are caring for your roses, check on the buds and under their leaves for this common garden pest.

They can survive in most conditions and multiply very quickly, so it’s important to get on top of them as soon as you spot them.

Control and Prevention Tips:

  • If you spot aphids on your plants, use the hose to blast them off. This is an easy way to dislodge them.
  • You can also make a mixture of detergent and water. Either spray or wipe the plants and reapply every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.
  • Neem oil is a popular choice for defeating aphids. Remember to read the instructions carefully before applying.
  • Plant catnip, garlic and chives around plants that attract aphids – aphids are repelled by these plants.

Garden Pest #3 Hornworm

Garden Pest #3 Hornworm

Tomatoes are the staple of every Australian’s vegetable garden. Growing great tomatoes are what we all strive for. Unfortunately, the tomato has many garden pests, with the most destructive being the hornworm.

Hornworms are a big pale green caterpillar that will eventually turn into a moth. While they are large, they can easily camouflage themselves amongst the leaves. They weaken the plant by removing the leaves leading to sunscald and in some cases, they will feed on the fruit.

Signs of Hornworm:

  • Missing leaves
  • Chewed and spotty leaves
  • Dark excrement on leaves

Control and Prevention Tips:

  • Regularly check your plants and pick caterpillars off especially in spring. Once hornworms are removed from the host plant, they quickly die. Chuck them in your compost, or even better if you have chooks feed the caterpillars to them for extra nutrition.
  • Look out for moths in late spring to prevent them laying eggs on your plants again.
  • If you have a big garden and don’t have the time to pick them off individually, use an organic pesticide such as BT.

Garden Pest #4 Slater

Garden Pest #4 Slater

Slaters otherwise referred to as ‘Roley Poleys’ are found all over Australia. They are easy to spot, with their multi-legged bodies and armour-like exoskeleton. Slaters mainly feed on decaying organic matter, which helps to recycle nutrients back into the soil.

You’ve most likely seen them scurrying away or curling into a ball when you lift up a pot. Slaters are shy creatures, harbouring in damp and dark places. You’ll find them in compost, mulch, under pots, and in stacks of timber.

Signs of Slater Damage:

  • Uneven rasping-type damage on leaves
  • Seedlings eaten down to their stumps
  • Damage to fruit

Slaters do have a role to play in breaking down organic matter but become a garden pest when there are large numbers. They can turn their attention to your vegetable garden, damaging seedlings, ripe fruits and vegetables.

Control and Prevention Tips:

  • Use the shell of oranges to create traps. Dispose of slaters that collect overnight, or even better feed them to your chooks!
  • If you have chickens let them free range regularly to keep the slater population at bay
  • Regularly pick up dropped fruit and vegetables
  • Create a barrier around seedlings by cutting the bottom out of old pots and placing around the seedling. Once they grow and become tougher you can remove the plant collar.
  • When sowing seed or planting seedlings create a barrier from the mulch. Slaters don’t like to stay out in the open.
  • Try to grow some fruits in hanging pots, such as strawberries.

Garden Pest #5 Funnel Ants

Garden Pest #5 Funnel Ants

Funnel ants can quickly take over your lawn, creating little funnel-shaped nests of soil throughout your grass. The ants are a tan-brownish colour and can grow to 5mm in length.

Funnel ants create extensive tunnels underground which weakens the structure of the soil leading to uneven ground.  You’ll notice their mounds pop up after rain, as they excavate the ground in order to dry out their nests. This causes your lawn to become unsightly, and in extreme cases, you may need to level and re-turf your garden. Funnel ants can also sting which can be an issue for pets and children playing on the lawn and coming into contact with their nests.

They are a persistent pest that are hard to get rid of but there some actions you can take to get them under control.

Control and Prevention Tips:

  • Funnel ants do not like broadleaf types of grass. Opt for different types of lawn.
  • Pour a solution of dish soap, canola oil and water into their tunnels.
  • You can also pour white distilled vinegar in their funnels that will help to kill them.
  • Since the ants prefer to live in stressed soil, ensure you keep your lawn and soil healthy.

Identifying garden pests is the first step in prevention. Here at Charlie Carp, we provide a range of natural fertilisers that will help to keep your garden healthy and pest free. If you would like any further information on our products get in touch today.

Latest News

   View all articles