Essentially, a garden pest is any living organism that is detrimental to your garden or causes a nuisance by simply being present. The warmer Gold Coast climate is the perfect breeding ground for all kinds of garden pests. If you want to make sure your plants aren’t at risk, you need to learn more about garden pests, so you can identify and eliminate them early.
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Common Pests Found In Your Gold Coast Garden
Living on the Gold Coast, you need to become familiar with the signs of pest activity so you can better protect your garden. We’ve featured a few critters that are most likely to appear in your backyard. For a full list of all the garden pests, check out this pest control library.
Aphids are tiny soft-bodied insects that like to colonise on young shoots, flower buds and underneath older leaves. They enjoy the warmer weather and a small infestation can get out of hand fast if left untreated. Natural predators include ladybirds and parasitic wasps.
- Twisted & distorted leaves
- Buds will often fail to open
- Sooty mould present
Citrus Gull Wasp
Just like their name suggests, citrus gull wasps are commonly found on citrus trees where they can cause quite some damage. The Adult Citrus Gull wasp will lay eggs inside the stem, and the larvae will grow and feed inside the soft stem tissue.
- Galls or callous-like bumps on the stem of your citrus trees
- Loss of new fruit
Another lover of fruit, the adult coddling moth is harmless to plants, while its larvae do all the damage. The larvae will immediately begin attacking fruit once they hatch for around 3 weeks. They mainly feed on apples, but will also attack pears, walnuts and other tree fruits. The trichogramma wasp is its natural predator. Be sure to dispose of any fallen fruit that has been attacked to minimise the spread.
- Rotting & fallen fruit
- Cocoons under leaves & bark
Technically not really a fly, the whitefly has a wingspan of only 3mm, but that doesn’t stop it from sucking your plants dry of sap. Whiteflies love to suck juices from hibiscus, poinsettia, gerberas, herbs and many more plant varieties. Disturbing your plant to get rid of whiteflies is not an effective treatment.
- Wilted new shoots
- Yellowing of leaves & even plant death
- Sooty mould present
Closely related to arachnids, mites are tiny little pests that pierce plant cells and suck the moisture inside. The most common type of mite on the Gold Coast is the spider mite. These little red insects attack a wide range of plants and produce webbing that nets leaf tips. These creatures are so small they can be hard to detect. One way to establish if you have an infestation is to grab a white piece of paper, shake your plant over it and see if anything falls off.
- Reduced plant vigour
- Yellowing spots on leaves
- Speckling foliage
Another sap-sucking garden pest, scale insects will attach themselves to your plant like parasites and begin feeding. They stay practically immobile and live in large populations. They have what almost looks like protective armour, which acts as a shield as they feed. Newly hatched nymphs will scatter around your plant until they find a suitable feeding spot. They’ll start feeding until they too develop a hard outer shell.
- Shell-like bumps on your plant
- Stunted growth of new shoots
- Reduced vigour
- Yellowing leaves
Caterpillars are simply moth and butterfly larvae. Moths and butterflies will lay their eggs on the underside of plant leaves, then caterpillars will hatch and begin feeding on the leaves and fruit. Caterpillars come in a huge range of species, each with their own unique characteristics. They can attack a number of different plants, as well as many lawn varieties.
- Holes & partially missing leaves
- Small brown droppings on leaves
Slightly disturbing visually, earwigs are bizarre looking creatures with a hard cockroach-like outer shell, yellow legs and sharp pincers on their back. About 10 to 20mm in size, earwigs love organic matter and will just about feed on anything in your garden. From fruit and vegetables right through to roots, mosses and lichens, nothing is safe! Their natural predators are birds and lizards.
- Nibble marks on stems, leaves, fruits or flowers
Very common on the Gold Coast, lawn grub is larvae from moths and come in 2 main varieties—the white curl grub and the army worm. Lawn grub is often found in healthier turf, as moths will search for the best lawn to lay their eggs. Lawn grub larvae will spend 2-4 weeks chewing through your lawn before becoming pupae.
- Patches of brown, dying turf
- Holes in turf leaves
- Small green droppings on turf
- Increased bird activity on your lawn
Mealy bugs are small insects covered in white hairs and a white mealy coating. These sap-suckers will feed on your plants, while excreting honeydew—a sticky substance that attracts ants and encourages sooty mould. The high humidity on the Gold Coast is the perfect breeding ground for mealy bug. They are most commonly found on orchids, ferns, citrus trees and other ornamental plants.
- Whitish substance on your leaves
- New growth distorted
- Sooty mould
The weevil is easily distinguished by the large snout-looking protrusion on its head. These tough looking, hard-bodied bugs are brown in colour and vary in size from 5m to 15mm. In their larvae form they’ll spend most of their time in your soil, feeding on the roots of your plants. As they grow, so does their appetite. They’ll begin feeding on plant stems and foliage and can make a real mess.
- C-shaped notches in your leaves
- Stunted growth of new shoots
- Yellowing, wilting & dying leaves
Slugs & Snails
Everyone is familiar with slugs and snails, but did you know these innocent looking creatures can wreak havoc on your garden? Snails and slugs are soft-bodied insects that love the moist, humid conditions of the Gold Coast. They’ll slowly move about your garden feeding on plants and stems, before leaving a gooey mucous trail behind.
- Silvery, mucous trails
- Holes in leaves
- Seedlings chewed off from their base
Not All Bugs Are Bad!
The circle of life is a wonderful thing. There’s always an insect higher on the food chain, which is the case for a lot of your common garden pests. Just because you’ve found insects in your garden doesn’t necessarily mean they’re pests. They could be feasting on the bugs that are killing your plants and turf.
Common beneficial insects found on the Gold Coast include chilocorus beetle, ladybirds, cryptolaemus, brown lacewing, aphytis, metaphycus and many more. Check out this guide to beneficial insects, mites and nematodes for a more comprehensive list.
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