August can be a frustrating month for gardeners in the South. This is not planting or seeding time – especially not when the temperature tops ninety degrees! No pruning, either. Or transplanting, unless absolutely necessary. Lots of water, of course, but no fertilizing in August; new growth would only encourage the bugs and don’t we already have enough of them?

That’s about all we can do, here in the South, this time of year, as our gardens transition from the splendor of spring to the equally desirable colors of autumn: control the bugs!

Japanese beetles, a/k/a “June bugs” are gone now, but the grasshoppers have taken their place – big, fat ones, green, yellow and brown, and they eat a lot. Spiders (technically not “bugs”) are showing up everywhere, and I welcome them, because they catch insects in their nets and eliminate them from the landscape. Hurrah! In my garden, there are a few Black Widows among the spider population. When I first called a pest control firm about Black Widow spiders, a few years ago, the woman answering the phone told me: “Oh, honey they’re nothing to worry about; I’ve got an attic full of Brown Recluses”. Oh, well . . .

I remember (from reading about it, not experience) that a Georgia politician once had his career interrupted because an outhouse he visited on a campaign stop had earlier been claimed by a Black Widow. Ouch!

I’ve learned to live with mine over the years. They are actually very shy creatures and will not cause you harm unless they perceive you as a threat to their existence. Still, when I work in places in my garden where I suspect one may be hiding, I do wear gloves!

The mosquitoes are everywhere in the early mornings and at dusk, as are the “no-see-ums” – gnats that feast on your ankles if you have forgotten to spray yourself with a repellant. And what are they doing in North Georgia? I thought Columbus-Macon-Augusta was Georgia’s gnat line – sort of the Mason-Dixon line for bugs! Typically, I just hand visitors a tube of anti-itch gel when they come to see my garden, telling them: “hold on to this – you’re going to need it”.

By far the peskiest bug in my garden this summer has been a small gray snail (“slug”). It has eaten a Moon Vine (completely!) and serious parts of Sedums, and made it 4 feet up to the top of some showy Daylilies. The Shasta Daisies, which finished blooming in early June, are being feasted upon, and the Stevia is under attack every night. A friend of mine explained the beer remedy the other day and I tried it; I divided the content of a bottle of beer among three small plastic bowls (especially bought for the purpose, at the dollar store: 3 for a dollar!), put a rock in each (so that the wind would not blow them away) and placed them in different locations in my garden. I could hardly wait to see what was in them the next morning, expecting maybe 3 or 4 slugs in each. What I found was hundreds of them; and I am not exaggerating. Amazing!

Maybe the best part of Southern gardens in mid summer is that there are blooms everywhere. Angelonia is a fabulous annual, Phlox and Joe Pye Weed are perennials at their best, and the Sedums (“Autumn Joy”) and Salvias (“Black and Blue”) are just beginning to show their colors. The bugs, for the most part, we tolerate.

Author's Bio: 

Lya Sorano is a Writer, an Internet Strategist, and a Certified Master Gardener. Her gardening columns have appeared in the Barrow-Jackson Journal, the Georgia Asian Times and The Nooze. When not writing, or working with her clients, she tends an eclectic garden of her own, where perennials and herbs are her favorite plants.