Many gardeners are going after Aphids with the insecticide “Sevin” only to discover a couple weeks later they are worse than ever. The reason is that “Sevin” will kill the Aphids but also it is very deadly to many beneficial insects such as bees, other pollinators, and “Lady Bugs” that eat Aphids. If Aphids are a problem for you, start out using “Insecticidal Soap” rather than a harsh chemical that kills everything. Dishwashing liquid and/or detergent are not good substitutes as the dish washing liquid has a rinsing agent so the soap will rinse off our dishes and glasses. You don’t want your insecticide to easily rinse off your plant. Also many Insecticidal Soaps are made from oils from the “Neem Tree” that also has insecticidal qualities.

          Recently at one of our Master Gardener classes an entomologist said that less than 1% of the species of insects worldwide can be classified as occasional or sporadic pests and only 3% of the insects are destructive.

I get very upset with the commercials I hear on TV and radio and see in the newspapers and magazines that brag about their insecticide and how many insects they will kill above and below the ground. I also get upset when everyone advertises their 4, 5, or 6 step lawn program that automatically includes a general insecticide to kill all the insects in your lawn. The only insecticide I put on my lawn is a “preventative” grub control containing imadicloprid (Merit). In most parts of Nebraska it is not too late to apply this product. Make sure you water it in with at least one-half inch of water or rain within 24 hours. This product will not hurt your beneficial insects. I have not used a general insecticide for years on my lawn and usually do not use anything stronger than insecticidal soap in my garden.

Don’t pollute the environment with other applications on the lawn and in your vegetable or flower garden unless you have an insect problem. And next year when you purchase your lawn products or sign up for a lawn service, don’t automatically buy an insect application. And do not put on application of some unknown product in order to prevent an insect problem. Make sure it will work as a preventative before application. Save your money and buy an application of winter lawn food with iron. Your lawn will thank you!!!

          I heard recently of a person who saw a black bug on a plant in her garden and grabbed the only insecticide she had in the house. A couple days later the leaves started to turn brown and then dropped off. This insecticide had a petroleum base and when applied outside in 90 degree weather, the leaves burned. It is very unlikely her plant will survive. She did not know what the bug was or if it was destructive. All she knew was the bug was on her plant.

          I was listening to another garden program where a lady said she sprayed her tomatoes with “Home Defense”. This is a good product for use in the house. However, she did not know what the insect was, and did not read the label on the container to see if it was ok for use on tomatoes outside, or if it is, how long the user has to wait before harvest.  The entomologist and hostess of the program recommended she take off all the tomatoes and not use them. She lost her first fruits because she did not get a proper identification of the pest and did not use the right product, on the right plant, at the right time.

          Before you use any pesticide be sure you (1) make a positive ID of the bug or disease, (2) use the least harmful control available, and (3) read the label and follow the manufacturers recommended directions.

Remember the number one rule of gardening: Read the label, make sure it is ok for the plant you want to spray, AND follow the manufacturers recommended directions.

Copyright 2015