Are your leaf piles bringing pests to your yard?
By: Abell Pest Control
Posted on: 12/9/2015 12:00:00 AM

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Homeowners know that an important part of autumn lawn maintenance is the removal of fallen leaves. If left on the ground, the leaves will become moldy and full of bugs. If they lay under snow all winter, the spring melt will turn the leaves into a mushy mess. Whether your city removes your bagged leaves to a communal compost heap or you have a pile in your backyard, you should be aware of some common pests that like to hide out in mounds of leaves.

Common compost creatures

Some insects like to burrow into composting leaves in order to lay their eggs, which hatch with the spring thaw. Two such insects are onion maggots and onion thrips. They are so named because they typically burrow down into onion bulbs, but they'll take a pile of rotten leaves if they can get it. According to Cornell University, there is a direct relationship to how many eggs these pests lay and the amount of available food. Fewer food sources equal fewer pests, it's as simple as that.

Earwigs also like to hang out in piles of leaves and they like to chew on living plants. The University of California warned that if temperatures drop, earwigs may try to move out your compost pile and into your house. If there are too many of these pests around, spray insecticide on their habitat at night to get rid of them.

Another little pest that will find its way to the bottom of your compost heap is the pill bug. These gray insects like to live in decaying vegetable matter. In the guide "Garden Wisdom and Know How: Everything You Need to Know to Plant, Grow, and Harvest," Gardeners from the Rodale Institute assured readers that pill bugs do no harm to compost. However, they are not good for growing plants, so you should keep that in mind if you plan to spread your compost on next spring's crops.

Keep your yard neat and pest free

To prevent excessive amounts of pests from taking over your compost heap, make sure the pile is maintained at the proper temperature. Washington State University noted that heat is naturally released during the composting process and that a temperature between 57-71 degrees Celsius will kill weed seeds and a pest eggs. Properly sustained, this is a great natural pest management option.

The easiest way to keep these leaf-loving pests off your property is to remove the compost altogether. Most towns across North America have leaf and yard waste pickup programs. By letting the city take care of the compost, you give yourself peace of mind and an easier time with your yard work next spring.

Abell Pest Control is a family owned Canadian company dedicated to providing effective, professional and courteous service in pest management.Started in 1924 with one office, Abell now employs several hundred people with branch offices across Canada and the United States.


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