The Big Bug Hunt: How to Prevent Common Garden Pests Damaging Your Crops

[Music] Hello there. With vegetables growing so rapidly there’s one thing that’s pretty much inevitable – pests! Just look at these blackfly on my beans for example. It’s frustrating but it’s also important not to get too
downhearted about it. Take a pragmatic approach and accept that
pests will always raise their unwanted heads. It’s just another challenge that’s thrown at us. In this video, we’ll offer some tips for protecting your
plants and controlling unwanted pests, bur first we’re also asking for your help. It came as no surprise when in a recent
survey you told us pests are your biggest nuisance in the
garden. Well, we’ve listened and we want to help you, but to do that we need your help. We’re launching a major new project called
The Big Bug Hunt. The Big Bug Hunt invites your to report the
pests you find in your garden. Why? Because by understanding what is spotted, where, and when it’s spotted, we can start to build up a picture of the conditions common pests need to spread. Imagine receiving a notification when a
pest is likely to appear in your garden. This is exactly what we hope The Big
Bug Hunt will help us to achieve. It’s a massive project but by putting
together the many thousands of reports you give us, we can begin to identify which
conditions trigger an outbreak of a particular pest. But we can only do this if everyone gets
involved by reporting. Reporting a bug couldn’t be easier. Just head to The Big Bug Hunt website at then click on the Report a Pest button. Enter the details of which pest you saw, and which plant it was on or near. Enter your location and then click to
send your report. You can also learn more about the
project on the homepage. With input from the gardeners like you
in our growing online community, the data we collect from The Big Bug
Hunt has the potential to make a lasting impact. For example, we could use that data to alert you when unwanted pests have been spotted in your area and provide you with recommended actions
to safeguard your plants. An intelligent warning system like that could save a lot of wasted effort, and a lot of money. With enough reports, The Big Bug
Hunt could even go on to help farmers in
developing regions of the world, providing the information necessary to
help them avoid catastrophic crop failure. The power that your combined bug reports
could provide is immense, so stay vigilant this
growing season and report your pests. Visit to send us those reports and help us to
help you. Gardening magazines and television
programmes can sometimes portray gardening as
trouble-free. Pests are barely mentioned, and when they are it’s only in passing. True, most vegetables will
reach harvest time without any problem, but it’s unrealistic to expect a pest-free
ride every time. How many times have your leafy salads succumbed to slugs, or your cabbages been decimated by
caterpillars? Whether it’s a crafty caterpillar, worrisome whitefly, or root-ravaging carrot fly, common pests turn up time and again. But while there’s
little you can do to stop them appearing, you can at least raise the defences and, if necessary, launch an offensive. No matter where in the world you garden, there are a few pests you are almost
certain to encounter at some point. Here are three of them. Slugs and snails are the bane of many gardeners. Just look at the way they’re
demolishing my lovely kale, the cheek of it! Don’t get mad, get even. You can prevent them from getting near your plants
by putting up barriers. For example, copper rings around plants or
containers will deter the malevolent mollusks by
giving them a small electric shock. Some gardeners also like to try barriers of hair or eggshells – though you’ll need to eat a lot of eggs first! Or get proactive – set up beer traps. Slug love the yeasty
liquid and will drown attempting to get at it. Install a pond. Ponds are great for wildlife, and any
frogs or toads taking up residence will make short work of the local slug
population. If you keep chickens, allow them to roam section-off areas of bare ground. Here they’ll snap up lurking slug eggs while depositing fertilizer for the next crop. Know your enemy. If you can’t see any slugs,
look for telltale damage such as this. Some slugs will even burrow into the roots of vegetables like carrots, and if you come across the pearl-like slug eggs, be brave and destroy them . Some caterpillars, such as those of the cabbage white (also known as the ‘imported cabbageworm’) carry an insatiable appetite for members of
the cabbage family. Serious infestations will quickly
strip leaves bare. The tiny eggs are pale yellow, and
the found on the undersides of the leaves. The caterpillars are easier to spot. Stop butterflies from laying eggs
by erecting butterfly netting over your plants. Netting can be draped over a
simple wooden frame. Make sure it is properly secured at the
bottom. Another clever tactic is to plant decoy or sacrificial plants at the ends of rows. Plants like nasturtiums lure the butterflies away from the crop bearing the brunt of any damage and saving your vegetables. Aphids come in many guises, including the black bean aphid or blackfly, green aphids and whitefly. Spraying colonies with a
mixture of soapy water offers some control, but they’ll
eventually return. Thankfully there are a number of beneficial
bugs lining up to feast on them. Insects such as the hoverfly and
ladybug (ladybird) actively seek out aphids. One ladybug alone can eat up to 5,000
aphids a year! Get them onside and aphids need never
reach epidemic proportions. Attracting beneficial bugs into your garden
couldn’t be easier. Plants such as calendula and poppies are
a real magnet, with nettles especially sought after by
ladybugs. Provide places for these bugs to
overwinter and you’ll keep them in your garden from
one year to the next. I’m hugely excited by The Big Bug Hunt. There’s no denying this is a massive
undertaking, but I think you’ll agree the potential outcomes are worth it. So grab your smartphone, tablet or
computer, and please send us those reports so we can warn you about impending pests. It’s time to launch the fight back against the bugs that would eat our crops before we can. [Music]

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