Summer’s bounty always brings out guests. Unfortunately in the garden, many of them are unwelcome.

Ripening fruit hanging from full bushes is often just too tempting for wildlife. In July, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries often fall victim to foraging birds and deer.

My Facebook friends frequently share their wildlife encounters. No more than a few months ago, their status updates waxed poetic about the wonderful songbirds of winter indulging bird feeders. Now they’ve all made an about-face. They protest the birds that mindlessly peck and devour fruit gardens. Unlike flower gardens, which are able to overcome an onslaught of browsing herbivores, the short, early fruit crop gives a gardener precious little time to protect his crop when pests take aim.

Fencing or bird netting provide a simple, effective solution to this problem. Repellent sprays can be effective deterrents to deer browsing and bird attacks in small gardens or on individual plants. Commercial products, like Liquid Fence or I Must Garden repellents, do the trick in some cases. This spring, I experimented with tagging scented dryer sheets to daylilies to repel deer. Not one of our daylilies was devoured.

Other pests in the fruit garden include the infamous Japanese beetle. These opportunistic insects have a life cycle that coincides with fruit harvest and are quite adept at eating the foliage of ornamental and fruit-bearing crops. The best strategy to outlast their advances in backyard gardens is to keep a pail of soapy water close by for hand removal. Botanical insecticides and Sevin sprays can be used to eliminate beetles if you’re hopelessly overrun.

So, what are your tips and tricks for dealing with garden pests? Share your successes with us. Then we’ll all be better off in our fight to save summer fruit from uninvited guests.

For more than 30 years, Toby Bost has been a resource to North Carolina gardeners and growers as an agricultural extension agent, a trainer for master gardeners, and an author. His books include The Successful Gardener Guide: North Carolina, North Carolina Gardener’s Guide, and The Carolina Gardener’s Guide. He can be reached through Our State magazine at gardening@ourstate.com

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Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. We celebrate the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, food, and beautiful scenic photography.

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