If you are trying to decrease chemical usage in your yard and garden, consider setting up an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system. This is an environmentally aware, common sense pest control method. While not strictly organic, IPM does place major emphasis on cultural ways of dealing with pests. Chemicals are used only when serious economic damage is being done.
The economic damage is key to IPM and discourages the “kill anything that moves” approach. When a pest is detected, consideration is given to whether the cost of control might be more than the cost of the damage ensued (economic damage). In other words, why spend ten dollars on a chemical to kill aphids if the aphids are only going to ruin six dollars worth of produce? The math is obvious in the vegetable garden, but can be trickier when the plant is a shrub or perennial to which you have an emotional tie. How much damage are you willing to accept?
To make IPM effective, know your plants and their preferences (sun/shade, moist/dry, etc.). A yard’s ecosystem is too complex for you to become an expert on every plant and pest. Concentrate on the plants that have the most economic, environmental, and/or emotional value. Learn what pests are most likely to seek out and damage those plants. What kind of enemies does it have? This information can be obtained through the extension service, good gardening books, on-line, or from your Dundee Garden Center staff.
You will learn which pests are potentially serious and which bugs should be greeted with nonchalance. Early detection is key. By examining your plants several times a week, you can stop a pest population explosion before it gets out of hand. Enlist family members to accompany you on a nightly “bug hunt”.
When you find a threatening pest, IPM encourages you to choose a control that will be easy to implement, less disruptive to possible natural predators (i.e., ladybugs eat aphids), and most effective at the pest’s current stage of development. The following control measures should be considered:
PHYSICAL CONTROLS: Sticky bug strips or Tanglefoot. Netting. Water blast to
CULTURAL CONTROLS: Rotate crops to thwart overwintering pests and diseases
BIOLOGICAL CONTROLS: Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) to control caterpillars. Encourage
CHEMICAL CONTROLS: Insecticidal soap; Rotenone; Dormant Oil Spray.
The best way to prevent pest and disease problems in your yard and garden is to plant varieties that are naturally suited to your particular situation.
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