Tips

Low Toxic Insect Control

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Have you ever noticed how plants growing in stressful situations are the ones most often attacked by pests and diseases? The best way to avoid pest problems in the garden is by encouraging healthy plant growth. Start with healthy soil that’s regularly enriched with the addition of plenty of organic matter. Healthy soil holds moisture, drains well, retains nutrients, and is full of oxygen and natural microbes.

Feed plants well and try to make sure they aren’t water-stressed. An organic mulch will help to hold moisture in the soil.

If, however, pest numbers do start to reach unmanageable proportions, try to find the least toxic methods of control.

Your thumb and forefinger can make one of the best methods of control for sap-sucking insects like aphids. Aphids are very soft-bodied so they’re quite squashable. If you’re squeamish, don a pair of disposable gloves before you start.

Most sap-sucking insects hate being in wet conditions so if you mist-spray the leaves regularly with one of those small, water-filled spray bottles the plant will be much ess attractive to pests.

Many sap suckers are attracted to yellow. Smear a piece of yellow cardboard or plastic with some petroleum jelly, mount it above the plants and you’ll find that many pests (such as white fly) will end up stuck on the jelly.

Caterpillars can eat holes in leaves but remember, every caterpillar turns into a moth or butterfly and these can add much beauty to our gardens. The best way to control excess numbers of caterpillars is to be ever on the alert, and pick them off as soon as they appear.

Dipel, which is called a bio-insecticide, is a well-established method of reducing the population of leaf-eating caterpillars, those renowned plant munchers. Dipel’s based on a bacteria that enters into the stomach of the caterpillar. It works at its best if the caterpillars are young when it’s applied.

Yates Success, too, is a caterpillar control that’s derived from a natural soil organism. Because it enters into the leaf it persists even through rainy periods and stands up well to sunlight. Success is registered for control of a range of caterpillars that attack fruit and vegetables.

Low toxic PestOil is a special form of refined oil that controls a wide range of insect pests, including scales, aphids and citrus leaf miner.

Snails and slugs can devour entire plants overnight. Try sprinkling sawdust or shell grit around plants to protect them. A favourite trick is to sink saucers of beer into the soil surface. Snails and slugs are said to find the beer irresistible and they’ll drown with smiles on their faces.


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