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How to Prevent Garden Pests and Diseases

Good for the Garden

Some bugs and amphibians are actually good for your garden. Add toad houses to the garden to attract toads for natural pest control. Just as fairy-tale toads can be turned into handsome princes with just a kiss, ordinary toads become plant protectors just by hopping into the garden. They may not be pretty, but toads eat plenty of bugs, so you'll be glad to see them. To encourage toads to come to live in your garden, try the following:

  • Put several broken clay pots in the garden for toads to hide under.

  • Water when the ground gets dry to keep the environment pleasant for amphibians.

  • Avoid spraying toxic chemicals on the garden.

  • Watch out for toads when tilling, hoeing, or shoveling.

Beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, can help your plants fight off pests.

You can also attract beneficial insects that will prey on plant-eating pest insects. Distributing some flowering plants amid the garden helps attract "good bugs" such as ladybugs, spiders, lacewings, and tiny parasitic wasps. The flowers provide shelter plus nectar and pollen, an alternative food source. Once beneficial insects are at home in your garden, keep them there. Remember, they can be killed as quickly as plant pests by broad-spectrum pesticides, which kill all insects indiscriminately. It's best to avoid pesticides or use targeted pesticides such as Bt (a bacterial disease of caterpillars that won't harm other insects) to protect beneficial insects.

Not all plants and animals are welcome in your garden. On the next page, learn about keeping pests away from your plants.

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