The Q&A Archives: Insect Control

Question: I run a landscape maintenance business and one of my clients has a garden full of flowers and insects. What is the best insecticide to control these critters? They're leaving holes in the leavesand chewing them and the owner insists I control the problem. As of the moment they are winning the battle. I spray with liquid Sevin every week and they still keep eating away. What would you recommend? She also has hosta's and they getting eaten alive by slugs. What is the best control? Between the owner and the bugs my hair is falling out. Help!!!

Answer: Sevin is effective against some insects, but not all. In fact, if there were a miracle spray that would take care of every chewing or sucking insect, the manufacturer would become an instant millionaire. Insects of all kinds are beneficial in some way, so killing them all off would be a disservice to mankind and to the plant kingdom. Your client may just need to be re-educated on the special importance insects play in the balance of nature. If you have a variety of plants flowering at one time, the garden will attract predacious and parasitic insects who will feed on the more destructive types of insects. By spraying Sevin at such frequent intervals, you're effectively killing off the good guys along with the bad guys. A better approach would be to identify the insects and treat them individually - either by hand picking, or with a biocontrol like a bacterium or a botanical (plant derived) spray. These are environmentally friendly products with little residue left to harm beneficial insects. The slugs can be controlled by trapping and disposing of them on a daily basis. Make a simple trap by inverting a clay pot in the garden, propped up with a few stones to allow space for the slugs to crawl in. Slugs and snails will seek shelter within and you can scrape them out each morning. Or, make a beer trap by cutting three one-inch slots in opposite sides of a margarine or cottage cheese tub, placing a few inches of beer in the tub, and sinking it into the soil near the victimized plants. The slugs will be attracted by the beer, crawl in and drown. Remove them and refill the trap as necessary. Insect control is not an easy task, but if you're persistent you'll eventually win the battle against the more destructive pests in the garden.

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