Rats are disease carriers. They eat almost everything. Also, they can make themselves at home in sheds, garages, houses, and gardens. They cause unpleasant damage and odours to possessions and property.
3 Main Rat Species in Australia
- Roof Rat – Also known as ship rat and black rat, the roof rat has a slender body. Its tail is as long as its head and body combined.
- Norway Rat – This is also known as wharf rat, sewer rat and brown rat. This is bigger than the roof rat and is found wherever humans reside. It has a small, close set of ears that don’t reach the eyes when pulled down. An adult Norway rat weighs about 500g.
- House Mouse – This has a slightly pointed nose, large scantily haired ears, black protruding eyes, and hairless tail with very obvious scale rings.
Why Worry About Rats?
Rats can carry diseases like typhus fever and leptospirosis. They also carry ticks and fleas that can harm pets and humans. They contaminate food with their droppings, urine and hair that can lead to food spoilage and poisoning. Lastly, they generate unpleasant odours and damage materials like wood, wiring, insulation, and food containers.
8 Tips to Keep Rats Away From Your Garden
- All rubbish must be kept in sealed containers.
- Clear out sheds or storage areas regularly. You must remove the things you no longer use.
- Stack bricks and firewood above the ground – preferably at least 30cm from the ground.
- Collect and properly dispose of any fallen fruit.
- Keep your grass mown and free from any debris.
- Give your pets only what they will eat in a day.
- Store all left-overs in sealed vermin-proof containers.
- Look around your house and cover or repair any holes or cracks in your property.
How to Get Rid of Rats
Use live rodent traps – These are among the most popular and effective ways of managing rats in your garden. Make sure that the traps are checked every day to remove, relocate or humanely destroy the trapped rats.
Use rat baits and poisons – These are short-term solutions. Rats eat baits and poisoned foods and then go away to die. Using poisons, however, has disadvantages. Pets and children may ingest mislaid baits.
Use snap traps – These traps are a humane and fast way of controlling rats. You can buy them at hardware and grocery stores. They can be set with cheese, meat, bread, fish or chocolate. Since these traps can be messy, consider asking someone to dispose of the victim of such traps when you have a weak stomach.
Deal with your rubbish properly to prevent rats from invading your property. Get help from rubbish removal experts if you must.
Various pests can easily invade a garden. Without the right pest control strategies and their immediate implementation, you will end up having a yard that is home not just to your plants, but to several insects as well that can cause your foliage to wilt and die.
Here are some natural pest control products and solutions for your garden that you can easily make at home:
To make a natural insecticide that will help you deal with aphids, you need to have 1 cup chewing tobacco juice first. You can make this by placing three
pieces of chewing tobacco in an old nylon stocking and soak this in a gallon of hot water. Once the mixture turns dark brown, run it through a sifter to remove the particles from the juice.
Mix the tobacco juice with 1 cup of liquid dish soap and 1 cup antiseptic mouthwash. Pour the mixture into a 20-gallon sprayer and fill the rest of the container with water. To get rid of aphids and keep them away, spray the mixture on vegetables and plants every other week.
Scale insects suck sap from leaves, stalks, and stems. If you allow these pests to live on your plants, they will cause the death of the stems.
To get rid of scale, mix 1 tablespoon of ground mustard seeds and add 20 parts of water. Mix well, put in a sprayer, and drench the affected plant.
For Shield Bugs and different types of leaf-eating Insects
Nobody wants to have plants with leaves that are slowly being devoured by insects. To effectively deal with leaf-eating insects, hard-surfaced pests, and even scale, chop 4 bird’s eye chillies (or other really hot types of chillies), 2 bulbs of garlic, and 4 large onions. Combine all of these in a container with 2 litres soapy water. Allow the mixture to steep for at least 24 hours. Strain the mixture and dilute with water, if necessary, then pour it into a sprayer. Spray the affected plants. You can store the remaining mixture in a sealed container and keep it in a dark place but make sure to use the leftover product within 2 weeks.
To get rid of these pesky insects, put 10 to 15 drops of peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle with water. Spray the area where ants usually are – they won’t come back since they hate the smell. If you have cats, make sure they don’t go to the sprayed area since this product can be harmful to them.
For Caterpillars and other sucking Insects
Caterpillars, mealy bugs, and slaters are just some of the sucking insects that can inflict a lot of damage to your garden.
For a homemade natural insecticide that targets these pests, combine 90g of chopped garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons of mineral oil or liquid paraffin and let it steep for at least 48 hours. When ready, dissolve 15g of pure soap or soap flakes in a container with 500ml warm water. Mix the 2 solutions together and strain. To use, add 1 part mixture to 50 parts water and spray on the affected plants.
With some common products in your home and a bit of ingenuity, you can have a pest-free garden.
Pests are among the most unwanted and most harmful insects and animals that home owners and gardeners have to deal with. They do not only destroy plants and damage properties, but they also bring diseases.
To control their growth and minimise their destruction, there is a need to observe pest control measures. Depending on the type of pest and the extent of the damage done, you can either handle pest control yourself or call on experts to help manage and eliminate the pest.
There are different pest control methods and products available in the market today. However, if you are dealing with pests yourself, it is always best to use safe and natural pest control solutions. Natural homemade pest control recipes are safe for both people and the environment. Plus, they are easy on the pocket!
Common Homemade Pest Control Solutions
Garlic is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. It is effective for keeping small sucking insects such as aphids and caterpillars at bay.
You will need:
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 tablespoon dish soap (without bleach)
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 cups of water
Combine the crushed garlic with the oil, dish-washing soap, and water. Allow to sit overnight, then strain the mixture. Spray on plants.
2. Bicarbonate of Soda or Baking Soda
Fungus occurs as a result of humidity, not enough spacing between plants, and excessive rain. To treat fungal problems in your garden, use a fungicide spray.
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of dish soap (without bleach)
- 2 litres of water
Mix the ingredients thoroughly and spray on plants.
3. Onion, Garlic, and Chili
In addition to garlic, onion and chilies are also considered staple ingredients when making an effective all-around pest control solution for insects and bugs.
You will need:
- 4 large onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 hot chilies/peppers (the hotter, the better)
- 2 tablespoon dish soap (without bleach)
- 2 cups water
Crush or puree the chilies, onions, and garlic. Mix with water and dish-washing soap and let it sit overnight. Strain and add 5 litres of water. Spray on plants.
When using natural home-made pesticides, it is important to keep in mind not to use bleach-based soaps or detergents because bleach is considered harmful to plants. It is also advisable to test out the home-made mixture on a small area of the plant first to make sure it would not cause more damage.
Autumn, the season between summer and winter, is the time of the year when the leaves change colour. The sun’s heat mellows down and the days become more soothing. It is considered one of the most enjoyable times to engage in gardening.
Autumn is an excellent time for planting fast-growing herbs and plants, fertilising, pruning, and aerating. However, it is also the time of the year when pests become troublesome. While there are insects and animals that are beneficial to the garden, there are also some that are quite destructive. Control and eradication measures are necessary to keep your garden and plants healthy.
Some of the most common autumn garden pests are:
With more than 4,000 species, these pests come in white, yellow, green brown, black, and pink colours. You can identify these critters through their pear-shaped bodies, a pair of abdominal tubes, and long antennae. The most prevalent species in Australia are the cotton aphid and the cabbage aphid. They attack fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals by sucking the sap from the plant’s vessels.
How to identify an aphid infestation
- Unusual leaf drop or stunted growth
- Curled yellowing or browning leaves
- Presence of ants because of a sticky substance called “honeydew”
- Presence of black spots, also known as sooty mold
- For a minor infestation, you can prune the affected area and spray with homemade garlic spray or systemic insecticide.
- For a severe infestation, the use of a more potent insecticide is needed — usually, sprays with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap are effective.
2. Snails and Slugs
- Garden snails and slugs are a huge threat to garden plants. They attack seedlings, leaves, and fruits. The most common among their species are the brown snail and the grey field slug. They avoid the sun and are most active during the night. They thrive well in moist places.
How to identify a snail or slug infestation
- Shiny silver trails on plants
- Big holes on leaves
- Use homemade organic sprays made of garlic and wormwood.
- Create a snail bait with the use of beer.
- Place copper tape around pots and garden beds.
The cabbage moth and the cabbage white butterfly lay caterpillars that are harmful to cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflowers. They feed on the leaves or fruits of these vegetables.
How to identify a caterpillar infestation
- Large holes on the outer leaves
- Discolouration of the head of cauliflowers and broccoli
- Use a vegetable mesh around your plants.
- Pick the caterpillars and squash them.
- Plant herbs with a strong smell such as basil, coriander, and sage.
There are plenty of insects that can infest your garden in winter; some are beneficial while some are destructive. Luckily, you can get rid of them with simple solutions. Here is a list of
common garden pests in Australia and how you can get rid of them:
The cotton aphid and the cabbage aphid are two widespread species in Australia. Aphids feed on vegetables, fruits and ornamentals by sucking the fluid of phloem vessels. They can easily and rapidly reproduce. To get rid of them, you can use systemic insecticides or garlic spray.
Snails and Slugs
These pests can pose a huge threat to your garden. They can damage leaves, underground tubers, fruit, and plant seeds, and this can lead to major production losses. Snails thrive most in a moist environment.
To control snails, there are many different techniques you can implement. First, you can make a DIY snail trap using beer. Second, assault them at night using a torch and gumboots. Third, handpick and drop them in a bucket filled with salty or soapy water. Lastly, spray them with copper oxychloride.
Small caterpillars love vegetables like broccoli and cabbages. Get rid of them by hand as this is the most efficient way to do so. Also, you can dust with derris dust. Similar to aphids, caterpillars can be deterred through the use of garlic sprays.
Bronze Orange Bugs (Stink Bugs)
Stink bugs can typically be found in New South Wales and Queensland. They are considered a pest to all citrus trees. They appear in late winter as lime green nymphs, but as they grow, they turn into an orange to bronze colour. When controlling these pests, you must be very careful since they emit a foul-smelling liquid that burns the eyes and skin on contact.
As such, you need to use protective glasses, and wear clothes with long sleeves, a pair of gloves, and a hat. You can use a vacuum cleaner to suck them up. Use planks of wood to crush them. You can also pick them up using tongs and drown them into a bucket with soapy water.
Tips for Preventing Plant Diseases in Winter
- Perform supplementary hand watering in the morning to allow the leaves to dry during the day.
Handpick mummified fruit from under fruit trees or on their branches. Place them in the rubbish.
- Watch your clivia since the winter cold may cause fungal problems that can rot the neck of the bulb. As soon as you notice any brown blistered patches on the leaves, spray it with anti-rot.
- When leaves fall from prunus trees, immediately control shot hole which may disfigure the leaves with a copper oxychloride spray.
Heavy dew can be caused by cooler nights and winter rains. Gardeners may think that they won’t have to spend time and money watering at this time; unfortunately, the moisture can promote bacterial and fungal disease in your garden, so keep this in mind.
There are many kinds of plant pests. Insects, mites, birds, and animals sometimes eat plants before farmers or gardeners can even harvest them. Plant diseases can cause crops to suddenly die, or cause the crop rot before it can reach the market.
However, not all pests are harmful to plants. Some are also helpful to your garden and the environment. If you are a garden owner, it is equally important to know which pest is good and which one is bad for your property. This way, you know which ones to eradicate and which ones to allow to wander around your lawn.
Bees, for example, are a familiar sight; they buzz about seeking the rich stores of nectar and pollen held within the flower blossoms. While they may be noisy and “stingy” to be around, many plants would not grow without their help. They are very useful in plant reproduction. As they fly about searching for food, they fertilise plants by spreading pollen from one plant to another. This allows the plants to reproduce.
Another familiar insect you should allow in your garden are the beetles. The ladybugs or the ladybird (also called lady beetle) are great protectors of your green and colourful property. Why? It’s mainly because they feed on common garden and household pests such as mites and aphids. With their presence, you can be sure that no mites or aphids survive because ladybugs eat them, including their eggs.
Other beneficial species of beetles you should invite into your garden are the ground beetles and soldier beetles. These beetles guard your garden from slugs, snails, aphids, caterpillars, and many other insects.
Ants are another kind of garden pest. Are they good or bad for your garden?
For starters, ants serve several valuable functions. They help maintain the balance of nature by consuming a large number of insects and serving as a food source for other animals. They enrich the soil as they dig their burrows, loosening and mixing the dirt. The fungus-grower ants that nest in large chambers deep in the soil are great helpers for composting. They grow fungus on beds of compost made from the
droppings of plant-eating insects such as caterpillars. While they drink some of the plant juice from these materials, they use most of it to raise the fungus that they and their larvae dine on.
Ants also benefit people when they feed on insect pests. In fact, ants were used as the first method of biological pest control more than 2,000 years ago in southern China. The silk nests of green tree ants were moved from nearby forests to orange groves. And since these ants are aggressive predators, they eat any and every insect that crosses their path, thereby helping keep the groves free of pests.
Garden pests have both good and bad sides. Some of the very habits that make them helpful also make them harmful. They can be household pests, infesting food and sometimes delivering painful stings. Some can damage homes and other buildings by burrowing into wood. Learn to control them to keep them from getting inside your home and allowing them only around your garden.
There are plants that repel pests by emitting odours to deter and confuse insects. Their success in repelling insects will greatly depend on numerous factors like proximity, the breeze, and quantities of plants.
Odours can be released even when you just brush past the plant or water it at a specific time of the day. The effectiveness of the plant’s pest-repelling odour can be enhanced by placing them in areas like pathways, doorways, dog kennels, and near outdoor eating areas.
But prior to using insect-repellent plants, be cautious and do research on their capacity to trigger human allergies. There are some that can irritate your skin while others, when ingested, are toxic. If you want to use these plants around kids and pets, do comprehensive research first to ensure safety.
How Do Insect-repellent Plants Work?
Plants often used for their repelling properties are those that contain volatile oils. This means that when they are brushed against or crushed, they emit a strong odour.
Sometimes, the oils of such plants are extracted in order to make essences and these can be used as natural insect repellents.
A List of Insect-repellent Plants
Basil – Basil is known to repel flies and mosquitoes. It can be grown in pots in a shady spot near the back door. It protects beans, tomatoes and cabbages.
Tansy – Tansy is a very strong-smelling herb that repels flies and ants. Plant it near windows or outside your back door. You can also pick the leaves and rub
them on your pet’s back to get rid of fleas.
Lavender – Lavender, with its strong scent, will protect plants from insects like the white-fly. Lavender planted near and under fruit trees will deter the codling moth. It can also be used to mask the scent of a rose from aphids. Bear in mind, though, that not all species of lavender can be used; the weed species must be avoided.
Marigolds – If you plant marigolds randomly in your garden, flying insects can be confused by its scent. You can use it to repel whitefly and carrot fly. If you plant it in between rows of beans, it can deter a range of beetles and spider mites.
Sage – Though it attracts bees, sage will repel many pests like ants and mice. Also, it prevents the proliferation of onion maggot. You must grow it in pots and
place it near doorways.
Wormwood – Wormwood has a very strong pungent scent that can deter insects. It is good at repelling white cabbage moth.
Keep a better balance in your garden by planting insect-repellent plants. These plants won’t just keep your garden healthy, but will also promote biodiversity.
In summer, most pests proliferate. Flying and crawling insects and mice and rats cause tremendous damage every year throughout the world.
In Australia, the summer months can be greatly enjoyable when you’re spending time outdoors. At the same time, they can also be disturbing due to the proliferation of many garden pests such as mosquitoes, flies, fleas, ants, and even rats and possums.
Mosquitoes were once considered just annoying pests. Now, they are known for causing and spreading diseases that can even be fatal if left untreated by medical experts. Many mosquitoes come buzzing around in spring and mostly in the summer months because their eggs hatch and come out of hibernation during this season.
To make sure you enjoy the summer without these unwanted visitors, you have to keep all surfaces dry because their eggs hatch only on moist surfaces. Remove any stagnant or still, fresh water so they won’t have a place to lay their eggs. If you have a swimming pool or are living near swamps, take note that these are favourite breeding areas. Be sure to contact your town’s agents who are equipped to deal with pest control on a larger scale.
Flies, like mosquitoes, breed in damp places. They hatch in stagnant water, dirty garbage pails, animal refuse, overripe fruits, spoiled vegetables, and even piles of wet cut grass. They multiply quickly and become full grown within 10 days. One fly can produce 120 to 160 eggs at a time and these hatch into maggots within just a day. As such, never allow flies to survive in your property. Do not allow them to fly and crawl around your home because they are also known carriers of serious diseases like cholera, dysentery, and tuberculosis.
Remove all possible breeding areas. Clean and tightly cover all garbage bins. Dispose of grass clippings immediately.
Fleas are also common in summer. These wingless insects are very tiny which make them hard to detect until they have multiplied enough to be seen and felt. These pests are not only annoying to your pets, but also to your entire household.
While a professional pest control operator will have no difficulty getting rid of them, you can also prevent fleas from coming into your home on your own by keeping your pet and your yard clean regularly. Clean all areas where fleas could possibly leap onto hosts, like the lawn while you are mowing grass and trimming bushes.
Ants love living in warmer regions, but they are extremely adaptable and can live in any climate. They are likely to enter your house through any tiny opening, especially the slits under doors, in window sills, and around pipes leading into the house. Some ants live in the walls of houses. Once inside, ants will eat almost anything. There are certain ants that eat mostly sweets, while others prefer grease and fats.
Ants are untiring workers. They move in a constant stream to and from a food supply. The best way to eradicate them from your house is to follow their trail, locate their nest or anthill, and destroy it.
If you are not sure about the cause of any of these pest problems, or if the problem seems too difficult to handle, it is best to consult a competent pest-control operator near you. Also, avoid using homemade mixtures or any sprays without an expert’s recommendations as this may do more harm than good.
Often, they are known for their destructive nature, but did you know that some garden insects are also considered beneficial? Some homeowners and gardeners are unaware of the benefits these insects and animals bring.
For starters, these bugs and insects prey on the bad critters that destroy your plants and garden. They are also a natural and cost-efficient solution to your pest infestation problems. Some of the good bugs you should invite in your garden are:
Both the lacewing and its larvae work hard and fast as they prey on bugs, aphids, mites, moths, and caterpillars. To attract them and help them stay around, grow flowering plants and herbs such as coriander, dill, and fennel.
- Parasitic Wasps
Parasitic wasps are a variety of tiny wasps that do not sting. They spend their entire life being parasites and end up killing their host. Parasitic wasps help control pests by invading the eggs of their host and laying their eggs on the bodies of insect pests like caterpillars, aphids, whitefly, and mealybugs.
To attract parasitic wasps in your garden and help them grow, it is good to have flowering plants such as marigold, thyme, alyssum, and cosmos.
- Ladybirds or Ladybugs
There are over 500 species of Ladybirds found in Australia. Both the young larvae and adults eat pests. However, the larvae feed more than the adult does, doing more damage to garden pests. They eat aphids, mites and mealybugs.
Plant goldenrods, asters, marigold, and fennels to attract them. Feed them well and they will not leave you.
Hoverflies, also known as flower flies, feed on aphids and most soft-bodied pests. They look like little bees and hatch eggs. Their larvae gobble up aphid colonies and mealybugs. Plant thyme, lemon balm, alyssum, cosmos, and spearmint to attract them and maintain them in your garden.
- Tachinid flies
Tachinid flies are commonly known as parasites of caterpillars, bugs, moths, grasshoppers, and earwigs. They lay their eggs near or in the host; the larvae then burrow their way into the body of the host, sucking its bodily fluids and eventually killing the host. The adult Tachinid flies feed on nectar and pollen. Plant thyme, asters, and parsley to attract these flies into your garden.
Inviting and cultivating beneficial insects in your garden will help eliminate pest infestation. It will also give your garden an array of colours since you can plant different herbs and flowering plants that attract beneficial garden insects.
Blackberries: the most notorious weed in Australia. If you have a blackberry problem in your lawn, backyard or garden, know that you’re not alone. The CRC for Australian Weed Management and the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage lists blackberries under the category of weeds of national significance. The damage caused by this type of weed not only impacts the property owner, but also extends to the community, the environment and the economy.
Why is it crucial to know how to kill of blackberries effectively?
- The weed is highly invasive. The seeds germinate easily, and the first plant can occupy a large area fast. Once it has taken root, it is difficult to eliminate.
- Control costs are expensive, especially if the infestation has not been addressed early on.
- Blackberries often bring about pest problems in your property as well; their bushes are a good source of shelter and food for wild animals, critters and rodents.
- They can restrict waterways and irrigation.
- For commercial establishments and farm properties, the presence of blackberries hikes up business costs because the bushes may be a hindrance to their operations.
- Dead blackberry thickets are a fire hazard.
- Heavy infestation lowers property values.
- Landowners in most states and territories in Australia are mandated by law to control blackberries. Seek advice from your local lawn and garden specialists on control requirements established by the local council or the appropriate government agency.
Three important steps are important to eradicate blackberry:
- Stop further spread.
- Minimise and control existing growth.
- Once affected areas have been treated, be vigilant about rehabilitation and further protection to avoid regrowth.
This three-step process isn’t as clear-cut as it looks. The major challenge of managing blackberries is that they are so persistent and resilient that landowners should be prepared to invest significant time, energy and resources to establish a sustainable regimen. Often, a mix of methods should be used and implemented over a period of several years.
The following are the most common and proven methods to consider:
Preventive and proactive
For properties with zero to minimal infestation, the approach is to always see to it that the land is clear of weeds. Make sure to completely uproot isolated growths before their seeds spread.
The use of herbicide
For properties with existing plants, herbicide application is the usual course. It’s best to seek the help of lawn and garden experts when using herbicide control. Determining the appropriate and registered herbicides to use, as well as the right concentration, application procedures and application schedule can be tricky and will often need the management of a specialist. If not done properly, herbicides can kill other healthy plants and grass or may unintentionally be applied to edible fruits.
Slashing – Can be used as a follow-up control after initial methods have been implemented.
Digging – This involves cutting the stems of the plan and then digging u the root ball. Make sure no stems, root fragments or any plant bits are left on the ground, as even a short cutting can already bring about a new regrowth.
Tilling – Weekly tilling will kill new growth.
Bulldozing or mowing – Used for dense and large area growth, but must be used carefully and with follow-up treatment because this method may spread out plant fragments that cause regrowth.
This method uses blackberry leaf rust to attack the plant. Used for extensive infestations, the government says this will not completely eliminate blackberries but can help in effectively slowing down growth.
The most practical way to implement a truly effective blackberry control strategy is to get help from a specialist. Consult a lawn and gardening contractor in your area to learn about the solutions that will allow you to finally get rid of pesky blackberries in your property once and for all.