Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Quick Tips
Insecticides are chemicals used to kill, prevent, or repel insects. Insecticides can be an important part of integrated pest management; however, some products can worsen pest problems or harm people or wildlife. Pesticide products referred to as less toxic pesticides cause fewer injuries to people and organisms other than the target pest. The lesser toxic insecticides listed below should be a first choice when deciding to use pesticides to manage insects. Always check product labels to be sure the pesticide is registered for your plant and pest situation.
Soaps (potassium salts of fatty acids):
Pesticidal soaps control aphids, whiteflies, mites, and other soft-bodied insects. To be effective, complete coverage of pests is needed and sometimes a repeat application is also necessary. Soaps come in easy-to-use spray bottles for small jobs. Several of these products also control plant fungal diseases.
Oils control aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, scale insects, spider mites, psyllids, and thrips. Good coverage of pests and plants is required. Don’t apply to water-stressed plants or when temperatures are above 90°F. Petroleum-based oil products include superior, supreme, narrow range, mineral, and horticultural oils. Plant-based oil products include neem, canola, and other oils.
Microbials are derived from microorganisms that cause disease only in specific insects.
Derived directly from plant materials, botanicals vary greatly in their chemical composition and toxicity, but usually break down in the environment rapidly.
Avoid these more toxic pesticides:
Minimize the use of pesticides that pollute our waterways. Use nonchemical alternatives or less toxic pesticide products whenever possible. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions on proper use, storage, and disposal.