Insects are the unwelcome visitors to our gardens. Traditionally, these pests are controlled with man-made chemicals that have consequences beyond controlling unwanted pests.
Using synthetic (man-made) chemicals can deplete the health of your soil as well as hurt your plant due to their harmful ingredients. Using pest control products that are compliant for use in organic production will keep your plants insect free and your soil healthy!
A Slime Fighter's Plan
Stop slugs from ravaging your vegetables and flowers with these strategies that are proven to work yet protect innocent bystanders.
Slugs do serve a purpose in your garden’s ecosystem: They break down plant debris into organic matter for the soil. You would appreciate slugs more if they waited until the plants died before starting to break them down, though we all know that is not always the case. Slugs also are a valuable food source for backyard wildlife. That’s probably not sufficient cause for you to tolerate the damage slugs do to your garden, but it does bring up the first strategy for keeping the slimy pests from becoming your public enemy number one. Read More »
The Pest Test
Find out how much you know about 10 common garden pests and how to control them the organic way.
1. The moth larvae known as cutworms got their name because:
a) They regrow new heads and tails when sliced in half
b) They cut the mouths of predators that try to eat them
c) They cut off newly emerged or transplanted seedlings
d) They have well-defined muscles that make them look “cut” like bodybuilders
Answer: C. Cutworms feed at the base of seedling stems at night, encircle the stems, and cut them off at the soil line. Cardboard tubes (like those from finished rolls of bathroom tissue) placed around seedlings can thwart cutworms in small plantings. To stop them from mowing down whole rows, apply Safer® Brand Garden Dust, which has Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Bt), a naturally occurring bacteria that disrupts the pests’ digestion.
2. Tiny, soft-bodied insects that come in various colors and leave behind sticky “honeydew” are:
Answer: B. Aphids are plant-sucking pests that feed on just about every garden crop. You can knock the wingless nymphs off plants with a strong stream of water. Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap is the best way to control large infestations. Sooty mold forms on the honeydew spots—wash off the fungus with Safer® Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray.
3. The parents of the grubs that destroy lawns are:
a) Japanese Beetles
c) Yellow Jackets
Answer: A. Japanese beetles gather in large clusters and defoliate raspberries, grapes, and roses, then lay their eggs in moist lawns. Their larvae, grubs, hatch in the soil and feed on grass roots. Lure them away from your plants and capture them with Safer® Brand Japanese Beetle traps.
4. The best place in your garden to look for slugs is:
a) Near the bird bath
b) On top of fruit
c) Deep inside leafy plants
d) Under the soil surface
Answer: C. Slugs work themselves into the center of lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens, where they can chew away at your crops without being seen or eaten by birds. You can lure the slimy pests away from your garden with Safer® Brand ® Slug & Snail Killer, a bait that they prefer to live plants but that lethally damages their digestive systems. It is no threat to pets, wildlife, or beneficial insects.
5. When gardeners complain about scale, they are troubled by:
a) Plants that grow too fast for their space
b) A destructive insect that’s immobile and nearly invisible
c) The weight gained by watermelons and pumpkins
d) None of the above
Answer: B. Scale look like bumps on plant stems, but they are insects that adhere to plants and cover themselves with a protective shield. They suck on sap and weaken plants, often to the point of death. Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap washes off the protective cover and pyrethrin that attacks the pests’ nervous systems. Prune off limbs that are heavily infested with scale and dispose of them (but not in your compost pile).
6. Caterpillars increase their body mass 1000 times over during the few short weeks of their lives. How much of your garden can they consume during that period?
a) 5,000 times their weight
b) 10,000 times their weight
c) 20,000 times their weight
d) 27,000 times their weight
Answer: D. Caterpillars, from the cabbageworm to the tomato hornworm, fuel their transformation to adulthood by eating through your crops like a gang of hungry teenagers finding a freshly stocked refrigerator. Keep butterflies and moths from laying eggs on your crops by shielding them with floating row covers as soon as you see the first adults flying around your garden. When you see caterpillars, apply Safer® Brand Garden Dust with Bt.
7. The most common cause of whitefly infestations is:
a) Heavy rainfall
b) Chemical insecticide
c) Fresh manure
d) Expired fertilizer
Answer: B. Whiteflies flourish when their predators are eradicated. Common chemical pesticides kill beneficial insects such as lacewings and ladybugs that eat whiteflies. To keep the good bugs working for you, control whiteflies and other pests with Safer® Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer. Its active ingredients—pyrethrin and potassium salts of fatty acids (soap)—neutralize pests and break down in the soil with no residual effect on the environment.
8. When you see garden crops eaten from below, blame:
Answer: C, and sometimes B. Moles are insectivores that tunnel into lawns to get grubs—they don’t eat plants. Voles are small, mouse-like animals that use mole tunnels to get to gardens under cover, where they munch on carrots, potatoes, radishes, and other root crops. Gophers tunnel into gardens and eat plants belowground too, but they are common mostly in the western U.S. You can capture voles humanely with Havahart® X-Small 2-Door Traps. Get gophers with Victor® The BlackBox™ Gopher Trap.
9. The most destructive garden pests in the U.S. are:
Answer: A. A few hungry deer can clean out a backyard garden in a single night, especially in spring when food is still scarce in the forest. Safer® Brand Deer Repellents chase off all three of the four-footed marauders, but it is not proven to keep away two-footed pests.