Continuing with “things that want to eat your plants”, we’ve decided to highlight two destructive, but manageable plant pests that love to eat your greenery. Nematodes and whiteflies attack and eat away at plant growth, but with a little pest-killing background, you can rid your garden of such bugs while growing a rich crop.

Nematodes: Look closely or you might miss them. These tiny, microscopic (and sometimes parasitic) pests can attack and destroy root systems or stems and foliage, depending on the species. It’s nearly impossible to spot them with the naked eye and easy to misdiagnose, but symptoms left behind can reveal their presence.

Symptoms of above-ground nematodes include stunted growth, leaf chlorosis, reduced yield and wilting (during the day but not at night). Below-ground symptoms include severe root damage, such as knots or galls; other nematode species can turn roots mushy after scraping and cutting them.

Rarely a problem when growing indoors, nematodes pose the greatest threat when growing outdoors or in soil. So, use sterilized soil if possible (cook your soil) and use as much preventative maintenance (keep everything clean) as possible. Neem oil can also be used to drench the soil.

Whiteflies: These white, moth-like flies damage leaves and spot/sprinkle them with white speckles and stipples; they also serve as vectors for disease. The best way to check if they’ve infected your plants is to shake the branches — if present, the whiteflies will fly off or fall.

Yellow flypaper is one way to control these nasty bugs; other ways include insecticides, the tiny, predatory/parasitic Encarisa formosa wasp, Pyrethrum sprays, sprays that contain the living fungus beauveria bassiana and natural, homemade sprays.


Above: Fungus gnats and thrips on a sticky trap.

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