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Have you ever felt less than 100 percent and at your worst point, it seems like everything else goes wrong?

You're sick. You want to just be left alone. Plants are like that, too. They can become stressed and sickly when they haven't been watered or fertilized properly and at that low point, the insects swoop in for the kill.

Scientists have studied an interesting phenomenon and something that gardeners have picked up on, too: weak plants seem to have more bugs. It doesn't seem fair that weak plants and animals are the ones who are taken out by predators and fall prey to insects or disease, but that's the way it works. The strong survive.

A healthy tree has a steady flow of sap beneath the bark layer. Boring insects (not as in dull or lame, but those that burrow and tunnel into the tree) create a wound in the bark of the tree and other insects lay eggs in the hole. A healthy tree with plenty of sap is able to push the eggs out, essentially "washing" them away. Unhealthy trees without the healthy flow of sap aren't able to get rid of the eggs and soon fall prey to the insect attack, and die.

In your landscape or garden, a plant that hasn't been well watered has higher concentration of sugar in its tissues. Insects will be drawn to those plants because it's an easy meal. More sugar for less effort. A dying plant also emits a particular odor which draws insects in.

There's some interesting science behind this but for the home gardener, the tip is to water plants well and fertilize them regularly. This will help to create vibrant and healthy plants. That's not to say that there won't be bugs, but a healthy plant is more likely to survive an insect attack. It's safe to say that for all of us, gardeners and gardens, avoid stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat well.


Editor's note: Mechel Wall is owner and operator of both The Cottage Flower Shop and Wallflower Farm. She can be contacted at

Editorial on 05/16/2018

Print Headline: Don't bug me -- I'm sick

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