If there's one thing that always succeeds in taking the fun out of tropical gardening for me, it's pests, tiny, formidable, plant-sucking, diabolical pests and lots of them! I'm generally a amicable, peace-loving individual but I truly wish that all garden pests would die a bloodcurdlingly slow and painful death. And I'm OK with this. Because, as people close to me can testify, I am obsessed with my tropical plants and I spend pretty much every spare moment tending to their every need, like a a crazy cat person. But, of course, pest insects have to come along and spoil all the fun. Therefore, war has been declared. The spoils go to the last man (or insect) standing. Here are some of the devious techniques I've employed to rid my plants of as many beasts as possible. These are all non-toxic, natural pest controls but they are darn good at killing pest. (insert evil laugh)
This is an incredibly simple, yet effective method of catching fruit flies that employs a funnel-shaped piece of paper over a glass with a bit of apple cider vinegar. Within a few minutes of setting up this trap I already caught a few and within 3 days I had probably over 50! This incredible tip comes courtesy of Jonathan B. via www.apartmenttherapy.com.
My kitchen windowsill is home not only to about a dozen tropical plants but also an entire menagerie of gnats. The best control for these little bleeders is sticky aphid whitefly traps. Gnats are hypnotically drawn to the yellow sticky paper - and to their doom. You can get these on eBay or Amazon for a buck or two each. I cut them into smaller squares for better mileage.
Neem oil is a magical, natural elixer that is healthy for plants, is considered safe for humans, pets and most beneficial insects but deadly for leaf-munching insects. I mix four teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of dish soap and a gallon of water and spray all my plant and the surrounding dirt.
Here's the most bad-ass foe I've got in my garden, the mighty mantis. I ordered 10 egg cases on eBay, placed them throughout the garden and am starting to see baby mantises everywhere. Although I haven't actually caught one in the act of devouring a pest, judging from the massive size of some of the mantises I've seen in my garden in the past, I'd say they are having a bug smorgasbord.