It is important to limit the use of most chemical pesticides, as the more they are used, the greater the resistance insects build-up to that particular chemical. The same goes for chemicals applied to pathogens and weeds. In 1975, 137 species of insect had become resistant to chemical pesticides. That number now hovers around 500 species. In fact, recent pesticide regulations strictly limit the use of most substances used to prevent, destroy, repel or reduce a population of organisms for this very reason.
Here are a few alternatives: organic, homemade pesticides are better than chemicals, but should still be used sparingly.
- Rhubarb Insecticide: Boil up one pound of rhubarb leaves in a few pints of water for about 20 minutes, allow to cool, and then strain the liquid into a spray bottle. Add some dish detergent (not laundry detergent) and spray on leaves to kill bugs like aphids and spider mites.
- Garlic and Soap Insecticide: Pulverize a couple of Cayenne peppers, a large onion and a whole bulb of garlic with a little water. Cover the mash with a gallon of water and let stand for 24 hours and then strain. Spray daily on roses, azaleas and vegetables to kill an infestation of bugs. Do not throw the mash away; bury it among the plants where insects occur.
- For many more easy homemade recipes and insect repellents go to: Insect Treatments
Insects are attracted to fragrances, so during the biting season, it is wise to forego perfume, cologne or perfumed cosmetics. Even lipstick, freshly brushed teeth and chewing gum will attract bugs. When camping, sit or stand in the smoke of the campfire whenever possible.
Important Note: When trying to identify an insect, always remember to check a "Household Insects" pamphlet as well as an insect field guide. Normal field guides tend not to represent many of these insects.
Beneficial garden insects:
- Bees, wasps and many other insects aid in the production of fruits, vegetables and flowers by pollinating the blossoms.
- Predators: They catch and consume other insects. They include Lacewings (feed on aphids), Ground beetles (feed on caterpillars and snails), Lady beetles (feed on aphids, scale and soft-bodied insects as well as their eggs) and Syrphid flies (only the larvae are predacious and eat aphids).
- Parasites: Tachinid flies (parasitize caterpillars), Chalcid wasps (parasitize butterflies, moths, beetles, flies) and Ichneumonid wasps (parasitize caterpillars).
- Onion thrips: They pierce and suck at onion tops, causing them to turn greyish and speckled.
- Blister beetles: They eat the leaves of a various garden plants.
- Spotted asparagus beetles: The larvae are occasionally destroying asparagus' seed pots.
- Red turnip beetles: Rarely cause extensive damage. They eat the leaves of cabbage, cauliflower, turnip and similar vegetables.
- Striped or Spotted cucumber beetles: Rarely cause extensive damage. Adults eat the flowers and foliage of cucumbers, squash and melons.
- Spider mites: They occasionally damage the leaves of vegetables such as beans, eggplants and peppers. The leaves turn greyish and become dry and brittle with very fine silken webbing on the undersides.
- Leaf miners: They cause blister-like blotches on the leaves of beets, chard, spinach, and weeds. Remove infested leaves and destroy weeds that can act as hosts. No control is needed if you only intend to eat roots and stems.
- Greenhouse whiteflies: They suck the sap from the leaves of plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers. Encarsis Formosa (parasite) is used in greenhouses to control them.
- Tomato hornworms: They mainly eat the leaves off tomato, tobacco, pepper and eggplant. Pick the worms off by hand.
- Wireworms: These are the larvae of click beetles. They feed on the roots of many plants including potato tubers.
Harmful garden insects
- Grasshoppers: They attack all vegetable leaves.
- Leafhoppers: They attack potatoes, carrots, lettuce, celery and various other vegetables. They pierce the plant to obtain sap. They cause the edges of the leaves to become brownish.
- Aphids: They attack nearly all vegetables. Use insecticidal soap to control. You can also use the beneficial predatory insects.
- Tarnished plant bugs: They attack most vegetables. They pierce the plant and suck out the sap. Their feeding causes various distortions or discolorations.
- Colorado potato beetles: They mainly eat the leaves of potato, eggplant and tomato plants.
- Flea beetles: They usually attack potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, cabbages, cauliflower, radishes and turnips.
- Imported cabbage worms, cabbage loopers and diamondback moths: They chew large, irregular holes in leaves and bore into the heads, leaving masses of greenish-brown droppings. They prefer broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips and brussel sprouts. Apply Bacillus thuringiensis.
- Cutworms: They attack all vegetables, particularly seedlings and transplants. They will cut the stem near the ground, allowing the plant to fall over and die.
- European corn borers and corn earworms: Resemble cutworms. They attack sweet corn.
- Beet webworms: They attack beets, cabbages, alfalfa, and most other vegetables and weeds. The larvae skeletonize the leaves.
- Onion maggots: They only attack onions. At seeding time, use prepared onion maggot killers.
- Turnip maggots, cabbage maggots, radish maggots and carrot rust flies: They attack rutabagas, turnips, cabbages, cauliflower, radishes, carrots and parsnips. They tunnel the surface of the vegetable, making winding scars and rough corky surfaces.
- Slugs: They attack most vegetables. Lay wide boards between garden rows for the slugs to hide under. Each day, turn the boards over, remove and destroy the slugs.
- European earwigs: They eat fruits, flowers and vegetables.
“What is eating my lilies?”
Red lily beetles are a common problem on lilies; they devastate the plant by eating the leaves. These beetles are bright red, and their grubs are brown and usually covered in their own black feces. To rid your plants of lily beetles: remove and kill all grubs and adults by hand (you can squish them between stones, or drop them in a container of soapy water), and rinse off plants with a wet paper towel, look under the leaves for beetle eggs, they are bright red like the adults, and squish these as well. Keep an eye on your lilies, and kill any new beetles, grubs, or eggs that you find.
If at all possible, wasps and bees should be left to live in the garden and yard, they are pollinators, and wasps eat harmful insects like grasshoppers and caterpillars. If they must be removed, it should be done at night, or in the late fall, when the insects are in their hive and not active. For ecological removal (for a fee) of the nest on the island of Montreal and surrounding area contact the Eco Bug Doctor at (514) 422-8457. Or please visit: www.ecobugdoctor.com