NGA Articles: Summer's Bad Guys

Summer's Bad Guys (cont)

By: Charlie Nardozzi

Physical Controls

Whether you pick, trap, or put up a barrier, these are the simplest controls.

Handpicking, squishing. It's not pretty, but it works well on small plantings. Depending on the pest, you may be picking adults, crushing larvae, or squishing eggs, especially on the leaf undersides. To kill borers, poke into their holes with a piece of wire to pierce them.

Homemade barriers. Barriers are tried and true. Two of the simplest are wrapping newspaper around the stems of tender transplants to prevent cutworms from attacking, and placing a square of cardboard on the soil around cole crop plants to prevent the root maggot fly from laying its eggs.

Homemade traps. Like barriers, these are simple and effective. Place moistened, rolled newspaper beside garden rows to catch earwigs attracted to the moist, dark environment; throw out the paper each morning. Attract snails and slugs with beer in a shallow plastic container sunk to ground level; empty the tub daily.

Row covers. These nonwoven fabrics let in air, light, and water but prevent adult insects from laying eggs on plants. Place row covers over seedlings and remove if it gets too hot or if pollination is required.

Sticky traps. Different colors of traps attract adult insects to the sticky coating which they adhere to and then die. Use yellow traps for aphids, leafhoppers, and thrips; white traps for whiteflies; blue traps for thrips; and red, round traps for apple maggots.

A nontoxic scent (pheromone) is often used with traps to attract or confuse adult insects, and to disrupt breeding and egg laying. The most common is a Japanese beetle trap but, unless you're trapping beetles on a community-wide basis, it attracts more beetles than it catches. Lures and traps for specific insects such as codling moths and peach tree borers are only effective to indicate peak population levels and timing of sprays in large, orchard-sized plantings.

Beneficial Insects

A healthy garden needs a balance of good and bad insects. Attract beneficials to your garden by planting a diversity of herbs, flowers, and vegetables, providing shrubs for hiding, and a nearby water source. Lures will also attract native beneficial insects.

Numerous predatory and parasitic insects that attack a range of garden insects are available. Some, such as praying mantis, will eat almost any pest and should be avoided, while others, such as the thrips predator, only attack specific ones. Improved instructions, handling, and shipping have enabled gardeners to be more successful using beneficial insects. However, the timing of the release is critical. Beneficial insects need time to get a pest population under control, and, of course, you should avoid spraying pesticides after you release the beneficials.

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