Taking care of the 'bad guys' in the garden from the ground up
Summer is here, and it's quite likely that you are beginning to encounter some pest insects in and around your garden. Mexican bean beetles, Colorado potato beetles, cabbageworms, hornworms, sawflies, cucumber beetles and lots of other “bad guys” will be making their debut any day now; you might want to start thinking about how you're going to “nip them in the bud” before they cause any significant damage.
All gardeners should look at preventative measures first and foremost. This means things like choosing resistant varieties, covering susceptible crops with floating row covers before the pests show up (row cover works great for cabbageworms and Colorado potato beetles in particular), or surrounding young squash plants with a collar of aluminum foil (to deter vine borers from their egg laying).
Other preventative methods include placing paperboard collars around tomato seedlings to foil cutworms, or hanging pheromone and/or red sticky traps in the orchard (for coddling moths and apple maggot flies).
But, sometimes, despite our best efforts at prevention, the pests come anyway. So, what to do? I'd like to tell you about a natural product that you can turn to in just such situations. It's a safe, natural solution, but I'd still recommend you use it only when absolutely necessary — in my book, that advice goes for any pesticide, organic or not.
Spinosad-based products have become a great tool in the arsenal of many organic gardeners and farmers, and with good reason. These products (brand names include Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew, Entrust, Green Light, and Monterey Garden Insect Spray) are made from a unique fermented soil-dwelling bacterium called Saccharopolyspora spinosa that was found by a scientist in the Caribbean in the early '80s. They work most effectively when ingested by the pest, so critters with piercing-sucking mouth parts aren't very susceptible, but a wide range of other insect pests are.
Insects who ingest spin–osad die within a few days of consuming it, and they stop feeding immediately. Spinosad-based products have a low toxicity to beneficial insects like ladybugs and minute pirate bugs; still, you'll want to apply it only when no beneficials are present — obviously good advice when applying any product to the garden. However, spinosad is known to be toxic to foraging bees, so it's absolutely essential that you apply the spray when no bees are active; early morning or evening is best. And, it should go without saying, but please follow all label instructions.
Spinosad works to manage pests like Colorado potato beetles, Japanese beetles, Mexican bean beetles, cabbageworms, budworms, hornworms, spider mites, flea beetles, sawfly larvae, asparagus beetles, cucumber beetles, various caterpillars, bagworms and many others. It is a great alternative to synthetic chemicals and is extremely effective. You can find spinosad-based products at many local nurseries as well as online at Planet Natural (www.planetnatural.com) and Gardener's Supply Company (www.gardeners.com).
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Burnett pitches well in farewell, but Pirates lose to Reds
- More employers adopt generous leave policies
- Steelers cut Scobee, sign free agent kicker Boswell
- Pa. spends millions on death penalty cases that rarely end in execution
- Pirates fans on edge as season again coming down to wild card
- Starting 9: How can the Pirates catch the Cardinals in the future?
- Are Pirates better positioned to win it all this postseason?
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell shrugs off Ravens WR’s comments
- New book credits Nunn for Steelers’ 1970s success
- Pitt holds off Virginia Tech in ACC opener
- Steelers film study: Team finds success blitzing members of secondary