The Q&A Archives: Controlling Strawberry pests

Question: I have a raised strawberry bed. I have had a successful crop the past two years, but before my strawberries ripen they are eaten by sow bugs, slugs and possibly ants. I have seen each of these pests in holes made in the strawberries, and the fruit is destroyed before it is ripe. I lose up to half of the crop. What can I do to get rid of these pests?

Answer: The first two critters you mention love cool, moist conditions, so the first step is to remove their hiding places (weedy areas, debris on the ground, etc.). If you have the berries mulched, you can experiment by removing mulch from part of the bed and seeing if damage decreases afterwards. If it doesn't, sprinkle the soil around the plants with diatomaceous earth (available at most garden centers). This substance has sharp edges that cut the skins of pests. They won't dare cross the stuff, even for juicy berries! You may want to try replacing some of your plants with a variety of strawberry that holds its fruit up off the ground to see if that solves the problem. You might then have to protect your berries from birds, but they are easily deterred with netting and flash tape. Hope this helps!

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