The Worst Pest

By Teo Spengler | September 23, 2022
Image by Dee
by Teo Spengler
September 23, 2022

Every garden has some challenges, and they often take the form of insect pests or destructive animal pests. Bugs can suck the sap out of your plant leaves, eat your buds, and even chow down on fruits and vegetables. Animals can dig through the garden and eat bulbs and plants. So, which is the worst pest in my garden? You may be totally shocked by my answer to this question.

Insect Pests

My garden has its share of insect pests. I have found so many aphid clusters just under a rose bud that it looked like it had grown scales. Spider mites? Loads of them. Scales that look like tiny dots? My citrus tree leaves were specked with them.

How about snails and slugs? I have these more in France than San Francisco, probably because it rains more, and the soil isn’t sandy. The pests that troubled me the most were wood-boring beetles that seemed to like the taste of my young American oak tree.

Wild Animal Pests

San Francisco is an area that had wild animals before people, and even after the people came, the animals refused to leave. On any given evening, the pattering I hear on the patio in my backyard might be skunk or opossums, but it is more likely raccoons.

Raccoons in the garden make the biggest impact. Their agile fingered paws lift up the bricks surrounding the flower beds, dig up plants to eat the grubs beneath, and browse the compost heap virtually every night. One night, just for fun, I put three dozen eggs, still in their boxes but time expired, in the compost heap. By morning, all 36 eggs were lifted out, cracked, and eaten.

Worst Pest

I have a very high tolerance for pests in the garden. I hose off most bugs and sometimes use neem oil, but in general, bugs don’t worry me too much. Once I bought lady bugs to tackle the aphid population, and some of those predators or their great grand kids are still at work.

When it comes to wild creatures, I love having them back there. I put out big dishes of water for them and don’t raise a ruckus when they have their babies under my back patio. They do sometimes destroy plants, but usually their damage is just digging things up that a little work on my part will take care of.

So, what is my worst pest? Neighborhood cats. People in San Francisco would be livid if someone’s pet dog got into their backyard, but they think their cats have a God-given right to roam. Neighborhood cats kill the birds I feed and, when they can, take out squirrels and make the dogs bark. I guess the true pests are not the cats, but the neighbors who encourage them to roam.

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