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Pest Control:


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.

Ecological Basis

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 management.

Action Basis

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.

First Step

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.

Second Step

Pest is unknown.

Try the simple approach first:

Specimen approach.

Symptoms approach.

Host approach.

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.

Third Step

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



The help provided by the author of this site is the best scientific based information, about which he is aware, but gardening is not an exact science due to the many unpredictable elements involved so the results can not be guaranteed. E-mail feedback is therefor invited to keep the author aware of successes and failures. Also let me know if you are the author of anything that appears to be illegally incorporated in violation of your copyrights.