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Collars can protect seedlings from pests.

Protecting your plants from pests

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Deploying a range of barriers and exclusion products will help protect your crops from marauding creatures, writes Penny Woodward. 

There are lots of creatures large and small that want to feed on our food gardens in spring and it takes a concerted effort to keep them at bay. In OG 136, Penny discusses the many barriers and exclusion products are effective and can be used year-after-year, providing a cheaper and safer option than spraying (organic sprays can still hurt beneficial insects). Here are the options using collars:

Birds and cutworm

I protect every large seed (for example, peas and beans) and every seedling planted in the garden using collars made of plastic downpipe that’s been cut into short lengths using a hacksaw. The collar stops birds from scratching out new plants and, if pushed into the ground a bit, collars also stop cutworms from chomping through the stems. As a quick fix, you can also use cardboard toilet roll centres, cut off yoghurt containers or pots with their bottoms cut out to protect seedlings against cutworms and birds.

Snails and slugs 

Adding copper tape around the top of collars will also stop snails and slugs. You can even use it around the top of a large pot to protect everything inside. 


Long, stiff, plastic or iron sheet collars around the base or branches of trees can stop possums from climbing into them and eating all the leaves or fruit, but these only work if there is no alternative route from a nearby tree, fence or roof. 

Ants (aphids, scale, mealybugs)

Collars can also be used to prevent ants from farming pests such as aphids, scale and mealybugs. These insects all produce a sugary exudate loved by ants, so ants help spread these pests to new parts of the tree or nearby trees. Wrap a collar of thick paper or thin cardboard around tree bases and apply a circle of glue or sticky substance. Don’t apply your glue directly to the trunk as it may ringbark it.

I use horticultural glue on the collar and also under the bottom edge. This stops and traps the ants without the chance of birds, lizards or other small creatures also being trapped. 

You can also buy collars with glue already applied, but there is a danger they will trap bigger creatures. In Victoria, it’s illegal for these strong glue traps to be sold or used in gardens. 


You can read the full article in our Spring 2022 issue (OG 136), which also has our experts top favourite tomatoes and tips for growing heat-tolerant lettuces. There’s a selection of back issues available here — you can also subscribe and get the most recent issues delivered to your door!

OG 136 cover