Pest Control Methods
For plant life to survive the right requirements must be met. This is known as “Proper Cultural Practices” meaning that plants must be placed in the right location whether full sun, partial sun, or filtered sun, also the proper soil medium is needed, the right amount of water, along with the correct type and amount of fertilizer along with correct pruning methods.
When plant requirements are met, there is less chance that they will be attacked by insects because insects attack plants that are stressed.
When selecting plants from your nursery, it is always important to note the condition of the desired plants. Are they sturdy looking? Is there any sign of bug infestation, discoloration in the leaves, drooping leaves when already watered?
Choosing healthy plants from inception is vital if you desire to have a garden that thrives with speechless beauty. So ask questions before purchasing. How big does it grow? What type soil is best? Is it a shade, sun or partial sun lover? How much water does it require in a week? These answers are your keys to “Proper Cultural Practices”.
Besides proper plant care, you may have a few unwanted visitors from time to time. If this happens to you stay cool and counterattack. Insecticidal soaps can be used to control mealybugs, just read the instructions or label carefully and apply as directed.
Another safe method you can use to control mealybugs is Ivory dish liquid and water. In a 32 oz spray bottle, mix about a teaspoon of dish liquid, fill the spray bottle almost to the top with water, shake well then apply. Getting full coverage of both the top and the undersides of the leaves.
Make sure you have adjusted the spray nozzle so that the solution comes out fine and misty for proper coverage, leave the solution on for about 2-3 hours then wash off. Monitor plant and repeat at seven- day intervals if necessary. However do not use dish liquid and water mixture on hairy plants, as this mixture can damage these types of plants.
Aphids can also present a big problem to our garden and landscape. Aphids like mealy bugs need the right condition in order to survive, as noted earlier aphids are green pear- shaped insects that feed on the tender or new growth of plants and if left unchecked can cause major damage to plant life.
The good news, however, is that besides using chemicals such as talstar, upstar, insecticidal soap and other brands on the market, you can use a simple mixture of dish liquid and water. You can find how to apply this mixture in the section on how to control mealy bugs.
A strong spray of water from your garden hose can do the trick of knocking aphids off and killing them.
If you have a hand pruner you can also remove the infected parts instead of using chemicals. This method is called mechanical control.
Whiteflies are small white insects that live on the underside of plant leaves, a good way to test to see if you have whiteflies is to gently tap the branches of the plant. If there are white flies present, you will see tiny white insects flying up from the plant and then as quickly as they fly from the plant they will reattach themselves back to plant again.
The eggs of white flies are yellow or grayish and are shaped like a cone. They are so tiny they are about the size of a pinpoint. The number of white flies can increase very quickly when the weather is warm. They lay their eggs on the underside of the plant leaves.
The four stages of whiteflies from young to adult are as follows.
*The first stage is the Nymphal Stage. At this stage, they begin to move about on the plant.
*In the second stage they are oval and flattened.
*In the third stage the legs and antennae are reduced.
*In the fourth stage, the mature adult with its already developed wings emerges.
White flies belong to the family of insects that suck the juice from plants causing great damage to plant life.
In some cases, whiteflies can be controlled mechanically by removing the infected part depending on the degree of the infestation, or they can be controlled chemically. There are many brands on the market and should only be used by a professional applicator.
Some of these include:
Insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, botanical insecticides and take down.
Thrips are another insect that you don’t want to see invading your gardens and landscapes, like the insects we discussed above, this sucking insect can cause major damage to plant life. Thrips are also known to stunt growth in plants.
Over the years I have dealt with them and have seen their destruction. I have seen plants that were lush and healthy suddenly lose most of their leaves and in some case all of their leaves.
The infected leaves turn yellow then brown, falling to the ground leaving the tree or plant looking bare and naked. Thrips hatch from eggs and develop through two larval stages.
To effectively control Thrips, I have used product brands such as Orthene, Bayer Advanced 3 in 1, Multi- Insect Killer, Talstar and Upstar. There are many other brands available that can be used to effectively control thrips.
Spider mite control
Spider mites are also a nuisance to plant life because they do what all of those insects that we have already discussed does and that is suck the juice from the plant causing damage to the plant. My experience with this insect is that in heavy infestation the leaves of plants are covered in spider’s web and can take on a grayish dusty appearance.
Spider mites life cycle develop in two nymphal stages from egg, larva, and then adult. Also, spider mites are not true insects but are classed as a type of “Arachnid” relative to spiders, ticks and the scorpion family. Spider mites live on the underside of plant leaves. The adult female can lay up to several hundred eggs during her life.
What I have discovered in dealing with these insects is that by using dish liquid and water you can eradicate this pest completely. (See proper mixture for this solution on mealy bug control). I have also used insecticidal soaps and many of the brands that are mentioned in this article and have experienced success.
Birch leaf miner control
As we have noted in the article on GARDEN PESTS we have established some facts about the Birch leaf miner, now we will be looking at ways to control these insects. Their eggs can be found on the underside of clustered plant leaves.
They hatch and begin to eat away at the leaves for about 1-3 weeks, then they pupate for 2-4 weeks inside the plant’s leaves or drop to the ground surface below burrowing into the soil and when they emerge they are adults.
And so the cycle continues. So how do we counter attack these insects?
1. Pick infested leaves from the plants.
2. Remove any clusters of eggs that are visible.
3. Release beneficial insects into your garden area.
4. Insecticidal soap spray
5. Neem oils
6. Horticultural oils
These are just some of the control methods that you can use to combat these insects.
Gypsym moth control
Gypsym moth as we have seen in the article on garden pest are very beautiful moths, but don’t let your eyes deceive you. This moth is known to cause destruction to plants and if not brought under control the damage can become extensive.
We have studied their life cycle in the previous article on GARDEN PESTS, now let’s see how we can control these insects.
- Botanical insecticides.
- Gypsym moth foggers.
- Gypsym moth sprays
- Neem oil.
- Biological control which involves beneficial insects.
- Placing sticky bands around the tree.
WORD OF CAUTION!
Whenever treating plants with chemicals, make sure that the plant is well watered the day before because using chemicals on a plant that is already stressed and insect infested can further cause a plant to experience setbacks.
When using chemicals remember label is LAW so follow the label instructions.
Leafhoppers are a group of insects that are among the largest groups of insects worldwide. These insects are destructive to crops and can create millions of dollars in damage. Leafhoppers do their damage by piercing the plant tissues and sucking the plant’s sap.
Most common colors of leafhoppers are green and brown though they can be found in many different colors. Females lay their eggs in the plant stem. The eggs hatch in the spring and then the nymphs or babies feed on the underside of the leaves.
Leaves of infected plants develop yellow specks or spots. The leaves may also turn a pale yellow and the growth of the plant may be stunted. Leafhoppers can be controlled effectively by applying Pyrethrins. Yellow sticky traps can also be used to bring these insects under control.
Colorado potato beetle control
Colorado potato beetle causes damage to eggplants, potatoes and tomatoes. Eggs are laid on the underside of the leaves. The females can lay up 400 or more eggs in 4-6 weeks period. The eggs hatch in about 4-9 days and the larva begins to feed on the potato leaves.
The mature larva burrows into the ground to pupate in 5-1o days. After this time period, the beetles emerge as adults. Control measures include Bacillus Thuringiensis Var Tenebrionis. This is very effective against young beetles but not as effective against them at the adult stage so timing is important.
Azadriachtin can manage these beetles to a certain extent or releasing beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewigs will feed on the eggs at the crawling stage of these insects.
The leaves on plants that are affected by these insects turn light green with gray spots. The areas of the leaf turn this color because this is where the female lays her eggs. When the eggs hatch the larva begins to feed on the leaves damaging the host plant.
The leaves may also have brown blotches. Control methods include using Borer-miner killer spray, drenching the soil with a liquid insecticide or applying Bayer advance tree & shrub insect control.
Scale insect control
Scales can do much damage to plant life by sucking the sap from plants causing the leaves to turn yellow and then brown. There are many species of scales worldwide. The excrement of these insects is known as honeydew. Sooty mold forms on the plant because of this honeydew. Females lay their eggs under the protection of their shells and these eggs hatch in about one to three weeks.
Sooty mold is black and covers the surface of plant leaves causing it to look very unhealthy. The mold can also interfere with the plant’s photosynthesis process (how the plants make their food). Scales can be controlled by using insecticidal soap sprays, horticultural oil etc… or by releasing beneficial insects into your garden areas such as lady bugs.
Crucifer flea beetle control
These beetles can cause severe damage to crops. Adult beetles burrow in soil and leaf litter during cold weather. In the spring they become active and mating takes place. The female beetles lay their eggs in the soil next to the host plant. The eggs hatch in about five days.
The larva then begins to feed on the roots in the soil. The larva undergoes 3 stages while burrowed in the soil. Mature beetles emerge from the soil and continue to feed causing damage. Beetles can be controlled by making sure that the garden area is free of leaf debris.
Using a botanical insecticide is effective in controlling these insects. Also, oils such as Pyrethrin, Rotenone, Neem oil etc… helps to bring these beetles under control.
While keeping your garden and landscape completely free of pests is impossible, what is possible though is that we can keep these pests at an acceptable level where they can not do excessive damage to our landscape or gardens. Remember to keep plants as healthy as possible by providing the proper soil, planting in the right location,
the right amount of water, the right kind and right amount of fertilizer. All these can go a long way in your plant’s survival and remember when applying chemicals read and follow direction because the label is LAW.
So by keeping these tips in mind, we can have healthy plants while winning the war on bugs.