Spring Garden Pests in Australia

The increasing daytime temperatures that spring delivers heralds an increase in a few of the usual suspects our gardens experience at this time of year.  The following photos may help to identify and control some of these garden invaders.


Grasshoppers are out and about and love dining on just about any leafy part of a plant. Like most chewing insects, they can do major damage if left unchecked.  Searles Bug Beater Natural Pyrethrum Spray may control them before they reach adulthood, making them quick to jump and fly away. Otherwise, sprinkle David Gray’s Cricket and Grasshopper Killer Bait to help control the even hungrier adults.

Dingy Swallowtail

With the warmer weather comes the hatching of many kinds of voracious butterfly larvae. This is the larva of the Dingy Swallowtail or small citrus butterfly, making light work of a new lemon tree shoot.  Remove by hand (wear gloves) if they are few in number, otherwise treat large outbreaks with Searles Bug Beater Natural Pyrethrum Spray.


Mites of all kinds have been prevalent during the recent long dry spell.  This lawn (pictured right) is infected with grass mites, their webbing a dead giveaway.  They’re a little harder to spot on garden plants but a silvering of leaves is usually an indication of their presence.  They hate moisture so a good soaking deters them. Use Searles Ecofend Fruit and Garden Insect and Scale for better control.



Ants protect and receive sweet liquids from their live, sap-sucking buddies, the aphid, whilst surrounded by the brown, mummified bodies of the unfortunate that have fallen prey to parasitizing wasps. Try hand removal, a strong jet of water, or for out-of-control infestations, Searles Pest Gun or Bug Beater Natural Pyrethrum Spray.  Controlling those protective ants will also help. Sprinkle Searles Dead Ant Pro Granules ( Bifenthrin) around and in their nests as well.

Azalea lace bug

Azaleas are nearly always affected by this little blighter, the azalea lace bug. A sap sucker, it’s responsible for the silvering of the leaves on most varieties of azaleas in our gardens. Treat with Searles Conguard. Searles Conguard can be sprayed on the underside of leaves.  Conguard is best used at dusk, to minimise impact on beneficial insects.


Other pests in the sap-sucking category whose numbers begin to explode at this time of year are mealybug and scale.  Sometimes mealybugs are quite obvious, small white blobs, usually on soft leaves and new, tender stems of plants.  Other times, you may have to go digging for them, as they love to inhabit the “hard to reach” parts of plants, such as the crowded crown of a palm, the sheathing base of soft indoor plants, even the indents in the calyx end of navel oranges. Scales usually attach themselves to the underside (occasionally upper surfaces) of leaves and plant stems, and can be black, brown, red, through to white, and in massive numbers. You may see ants and sooty mould on infected plants, a certain indication of scale, mealybugs or both!  And the ants defend them from predators!  Best treated with Searles Pest Gun (repeat applications may be necessary).  For residual control, use Searles Conguard, sprayed at dusk.  An organic alternative would be Searles Bug Beater.

Fruit Fly

If you grow apples, pears, citrus, figs, stone fruit, tomatoes, capsicum and even chillies, then you will be cursing fruit fly very soon.  If no control is attempted, devastation will surely follow!  Try Searles Fruit Fly Trap, available from your local garden centre.  Otherwise try exclusion bags if you are happy to fiddle a bit tying them around individual fruit, clusters or trusses.


Bronze Orange Bug

Bronze orange bugs can be a major pest of citrus trees.  They will cause fruit drop and defoliation as they suck sap from the plant.  Control small numbers by knocking them into a bucket of hot, soapy water.  Treating with Searles Conguard or an organic spray, Searles Ecofend Fruit & Garden, will help as well.  Watch out!  They squirt caustic fluid so protect your skin and eyes.  Oh, and they stink.

Indoor Plants Pests

If you’re a lover of indoor plants, then the main pests from the list of previous perpetrators will include scale, mealybug, mites and sometimes caterpillars.  Treat your plants similarly, with the Searles products listed earlier, but take them outside to a protected area to do so.

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