Garden pests: Control what's bugging you

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EUGENE, Ore. Just as you're looking forward to some fresh fruit and veggies from the garden, others will want to take a bite out of it too.

Bugs and other pests like to help themselves to your plants, and if you're not careful, it can be a costly problem.

"Sometimes, people want to just put something out that'll deal with everything, but there's a lot of deleterious effects to doing that. You can kill beneficial insects," Adam Cole with Down to Earth garden store in Eugene said.

Just like using the scientific method, Cole says the first step is identifying the problem. In this case, figure out what's eating you and your plants.

"You can do that by taking a sample to the extension service," Cole said. "You can bring a sample into the store. Both damaged leaves, damaged plants and the insect itself, if you can find it."

Ask the Bug Man owner Dave Ottovich says just because you find ants at the crime scene doesn't mean they're the culprits.

"It's not what you have planted as much as the aphids, they'll farm aphids on your plants, because aphids produce a honeydew substance and the ants crave that," Ottovich said.

If that's the case, ladybugs in the garden are your best friends, because ladybugs eat aphids. You can also use bait to figure out where the ants are coming from.

"If you've got the time and patience to crumble up a cookie, because once they grab food, they're headed for home. Follow those ants back to where they're going, you might be able to find the colony," Ottovich said.

If it's a slug or snail problem, you can use something like crushed up egg shells, which irritates them. Many stores also carry Sluggo, which is an iron phosphate.

"Be really careful with the slug baits you put out, because those are attractive to small dogs and cats," Ottovich said.

"Sometimes, the least invasive option for getting rid of pests is just walking out and removing a pest. That's the case with cutworms and sometimes, slugs and snails," Cole said.

Bottom line, both Ottovich and Cole agree that to eradicate pests means being consistent. You may have to keep using a method over and over until you see results. You can also plant certain flowers and herbs to attract ladybugs, including dill and cilantro.

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