The best practice is to not depend on a single tactic such as spraying with pesticides.
The goal in pest management should be to reduce pests to tolerable levels; not eliminate
them entirely, which is oftentimes impossible and undesirable. (The exception to the
forgoing would be in ones house, especially in the area of food storage, where health is
concerned and where any structural damage is occurring.) The control tactics include some
of the following -
- Grow pest resistant plants.
- Keep plants healthy.
- Accept some damage.
- Use physical barriers.
- Encourage or add natural enemies.
- Physically remove insects.
- Time plant growing season.
- Grow diverse plants together.
- Apply least toxic pesticides, as necessary.
- Routinely monitor plants for damage.
- Apply more toxic pesticides, as necessary.
Plants grow best in a garden in which the interrelationship amongst the plants and
their surrounding environment, including other plants and insects, is considered in their
The decision for action should be based on an acceptable level of plant damage. Since a
zero damage level is usually unrealistic, gardeners must decide what is acceptable to
them. Acceptable damage levels can vary depending on the kind of plants, e.g. for flowers
you might want a lower level than for vegetables. A common damage level acceptable to many
gardeners is about 10% of the plant parts under attack (e.g. 10% of leaf area). This means
that the gardener would do nothing until the plant damage exceeds 10%. This also means
that gardeners must routinely monitor their plants for damage so timely action can be
taken. The gardener's goal should be to take action only when it is reasonable to do so,
not at the first sign of damage.
Identify the pest before you try any remedy. This will save you time, effort and avoid
wasting money on useless or inappropriate solutions.
Insect is known. Select following:
Beneficial or pest index.
Pest is unknown.
Try the simple approach first:
If the above approachs don't work, then
select the following:
What is the insect order and family?
Try to match characteristics and common name within a order and family. Sometimes
insect life cycle can provide a valuable clue.Don't assume that an insect is causing
damage; maybe you have a disease problem which you are blaming on a beneficial or stray
visitor. Range information is only approximate because many insects have been spread by
human activities beyond their original habitat.
Look at pest index for the closest matches. Use photos to
assist in ID. Recognize that remedies tend to be common for families of insects. Don't
waste time and money on remedies at the end of a growing season. Look for least toxic and
least costly remedies that provide adequate results. Avoid pesticides in eating or food
storage areas. Be patient for results but monitor any remedies for results periodically. Be
very suspicious of miracle cures!
Last edited: 07/03/98 06:08 PM