I have fed
birds for years and I have had dogs and kids playing on the lawn almost as
long, so I have tried to avoid anything that might cause harm to either.
Over time companies have developed new weapons so I will write about my
The one I have
used most is Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a fungous for control of some
insects. There are specific strains for specific enemies. However,
remember that Bt kills helpful and beautiful insects as well, so be
careful how and where you use. The
Mosquito Dunks we put in our
(aka as horticultural soap and insecticidal soap) is my favorite
especially on my house plants. It
doesn’t smell terrible like the systemic granules. It removes the
insect’s outer coating. Outside it is good for some Beetles, Mealy bugs,
and aphids. It doesn’t kill many of our “good bugs” as many of their
outer coats are a harder shell. You
can buy this insecticidal soap as a concentrate or in a ready-to-use
spray. Do not mix your spray too strong as it can burn some leaves, and
you need to coat the “enemy” for it to work (contact spray). It will
not work to kill caterpillars.
Oil is used by many
Neem Oil comes
from the Neem Tree and will kill most any insect, good or bad, keeping
them from eating or growing. It also works on fungous spores, on powdery
mildew and leaf spot. It also
kills fish so stay away from your
are made from the seed of a Chrysanthemum. It kills all insects, so be
careful and read the label and use as it says. Did you know a label is a
legal document? Most often used for Wasps, Whiteflies, Aphids and Beetles
as a spray or a dust. It interferes with their nervous system. People have
an enzyme that counteracts this affect but you should wear safety
equipment when using, as it causes allergic or asthmatic reactions.
Pyrethroids are a synthetic insecticide, not from Mums, and are more toxic
than Pyrethrums so be sure and read before you buy!!!
Water and good
bugs are my favorite weapons. During
a hot dry summer many plants are attacked by Spider Mites. You will notice
the leaves are speckled and losing color when they have Spider Mites. To
make sure, put a piece of white paper under the leaves and snap the leaf.
The little guys should drop off onto your paper to identify. If you see
speck of dust start to move, you probably have Spider Mites. I use a
“hose gun” and with a fairly good force try to hit both the top and
bottom of the leaves or needles so they drop on the ground. They will not
climb back up. You will need to repeat in a few days.
My Dwarf Alberta Spruce gets hit by Mites every summer so I try to
wash them down whenever I am working with the hose. Mites are not fussy
about where they drink sap, so watch all your plants including Hollyhocks,
and Hibiscus. Turn the leaf
over and look for webbing.
A number of
years ago when they first started selling “good bugs” I was front in
line to try. The Lady Bugs
came in a little wire basket. I am sure the mailman was pleased so I
turned them loose and I am not sure I ever saw one again! But I have
native Lady Bugs!!! If I spot an Aphid colony one day and go back in a day
or so, there are usually none left. The
Aphids on my Cup Plant are a gorgeous orange.
(preying) Mantis arrived in soft little cocoons to hang on a plant
somewhere. I have Mantis every year with such neat manners. The female
eats the male after mating. She needs the protein to produce eggs. Then
when it warms up in Spring the first ones to hatch eat the late ones! But
some always escape to devour all my bad bugs.