Los Angeles residents enjoy a temperate, coastal climate. For that reason, it’s well suited for all kinds of unwanted yard pests. So, how do you get rid of these pesky creatures?
In this informative guide, we’ll discuss:
- The kinds of yard pests in Los Angeles
- Identifying features of each type
- Plant pests and what to do about them
- Wildlife animals and how to get rid of them humanely
Aphids are tiny insects that feed on plant sap. Most of the ones you find throughout the Los Angeles area are green, but some species are also dark brown, red, or black.
Adult aphids are usually wingless. However, you may notice a few flying from one plant to another during spring or fall, searching for better food sources.
Large aphid populations residing on a single plant can cause severe damage. This will show up as leaf discoloration and stunted growth.
Aphids also transmit viruses to certain plants, especially vegetables. When this happens, you may notice curled, yellow leaves and stunted growth.
Get rid of aphids this way:
- Monitor plants for aphids regularly to get ahead of the problem
- Commercially available lady beetles are a great solution, especially when released at dusk
- Since ants protect aphids from predators, consider using a granular insecticide bait to control them
- Before planting vegetables, remove any adjacent plants that may be infested with aphids
- High concentrations of nitrogen attract aphids, so it’s best to use fertilizers sparingly
- For larger trees, use a high-pressure volume of soapy water to knock down aphids
- Insecticidal soaps are best for spraying aphids while limiting damage to your ornamental plants
Snails are mollusks that move around by sliding and constantly creating a thin film of mucus. They reproduce rapidly, laying as many as 480 eggs per year.
Snails are nocturnal but may make their presence known on cloudy or rainy days. Although they are a year-round pest, they hibernate during the hottest parts of the summer months to stay cool.
Since snails typically feed on plants, they often create widespread damage. Look for small holes in leaves. Also, you may notice the inability of turfgrass seedlings to grow due to snails feeding on them.
Here are the best ways to eliminate snails from your yard:
- Eliminate snail hiding places by removing boards, stones, and other debris from your yard
- Remove dense weeds and thick ground cover where possible
- Switch from sprinkler irrigation to drip irrigation to reduce humidity levels
- Consider hand-picking snails daily and disposing of them after they die
- Keep snails out of flower beds using copper flashing and metal screen material
- Snail baits containing iron phosphate are effective when used with other control methods
Pavement ants are those small black ants you find sometimes scurrying along your driveway. Or you’ll see them in your yard under rocks, near foundations, or foraging along walkways.
It’s best not to spray for outdoor ants since the queen often splits the colony to protect it. Instead, apply a granular bait about 12 inches away from mounds and foraging areas.
It may take a few weeks to notice a difference. So, patience is required when treating most outdoor ant species.
California Ground Squirrels
Ground squirrels are typically brown, with whitish-gray markings on the back. Their tails are bushy, similar to tree squirrels, and they have large, pointed ears.
California ground squirrels live in vast underground burrows that can be up to six feet or more. They are active during the day, between mid-morning to late afternoon.
Damage caused by these rodents can be extensive. For example, the burrows and mounds created by ground squirrels can make lawn mowing difficult. Also, it causes irreparable damage to trees and shrub roots.
Ground squirrels eat vegetable plants and seedlings, and they also damage young shrubs, vines, and tree saplings. In addition, they gnaw on plastic sprinkler heads, irrigation lines, and control boxes.
This is how wildlife control specialists recommend eliminating squirrels from your yard:
- Get rid of ground cover for squirrels by removing tall weeds and debris from your yard
- Destroy existing burrows using deep ripping methods
- Live-trap using cage traps that are at least eight inches wide and 32 inches deep, baited with peanut butter and birdseed
- Toxic ant baits are legal to use in California as long as they are employed according to strict label directions
- For large infestations, use carbon monoxide fumigation techniques, ensuring all burrow systems are tightly sealed