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Controlling Bugs in Your Garden

One way pests are defined is "something unwanted".   In the garden, we think of pests as bugs, critters and even diseases.  Of these three, it's the bugs that nearly everyone has to deal with during the growing season.

There are volumes of books written about how

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to control bugs.   So it would be impossible for me to give you all the information on them in such a brief article.  However, here are a few tips.

First, stay ahead of the bugs during the year.  You can do this by simply watching your plants.  If you let a few weeks go by without any control then the problem will become increasingly serious.

Second, soap and water go a long way.  I use a tablespoon of dishsoap in a gallon of water.  You can also crush a glove or two of garlic into the mixture.  a spray of this will help to keep aphids and spider mites at bay. 

Next, follow the directions if you choose to use pest controls.  Whether organic or synthetic it is important to follow the directions.  Remember that even organic products when used incorrectly can upset the ecological balance of your yard.

Finally, here is a partial list of some of the products you can find for controlling unwanted pests in the yards.  Ask for products containing the ingrediants mentioned. The name brand of the product is not important, look for the list of ingrediants and match it with your pest problem.    The following list of pest and controls was take from the online publication

Home Vegetable Garden Insect Pest Control

By: Jonathan Edelson, Ken Pinkston, Brenda Simons,& David Hillock
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service • Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.


Aphids are small insects, ranging in color from yellow to green to red, which may or may not have wings. Look for these insects on the undersides of the leaves. Aphids feed by inserting needlelike mouthparts in leaves, stems, and fruit to remove plant nutrients. When numerous, aphids generally cause damage; however, they can transmit viruses to your crops even when present in low numbers. Aphids may be controlled by natural factors including rain, wind, parasites (tiny wasps) and predators (lady beetles). Aphids occur on almost all garden crops and are of special concern on tomatoes, peppers, potatoes,
squash, melons and cucumbers. They may transmit virus diseases among crops and can be very damaging.
Recommended Control: To prevent virus transmission, place row covers over new plantings and maintain until  first flowers are present or use an aluminum mulch. To control Large populations on leaves, spray with malathion, dimethoate, endosulfan, diazinon, chlorpyriphos or neem, making certain
to obtain good spray cover under leaves. ORGANIC methods of control include the use of row covers, aluminum mulch, beneficial insects, applications of neem, insecticidal soap or
pyrethrum. A fungus based insecticide is available under the Trade name Mycotrol, which is effective when sprayed directly on the aphids under humid conditions. Sprays must be
directed at the feeding sites on the undersurface of leaves. You also can thoroughly wash the plants with a directed stream of water early in the morning to allow the leaves to dry
before evening.
Beetles are large or small and dark black to metallic green in color. They have hard
‘shell-like’ bodies, are good fliers, and possess chewing mouth parts. They feed on
leaves, stems, and fruit. Common beetles in vegetable gardens include the Colorado potato
beetle, blister beetle, bean beetle, and cucumber beetle. Lady beetles are common beneficial beetles
that feed on insect eggs, larvae, and aphids.
Recommended Control: Use row covers to protect young plants and remove at first flowering. Larvae and adults can be killed with malathion, carbaryl, diazinon, endosulfan
and chlorpyriphos. ORGANIC methods of control include the use of row covers, hand picking, and spray applications of neem or pyrethrum. Larvae can be killed with insecticidal
soap. The larvae or immature forms of the Colorado potato beetle and other beetle species can be killed with the Bacillus thuringiensis var tenebrionis formulations developed for beetle control (e.g. Trident, M-Trak).
Bugs include stink bugs, leaffooted bugs, and squash bugs that have piercing mouthparts used to ‘suck’ nutrients from plant leaves, stems, and fruit. They often are KEY PESTS that feed on tomatoes, beans, and squash causing discolored spotting, pimples or desiccation. The adults are excellent fliers and can move long distances into and among gardens. There are few natural controls limiting their numbers and damaging populations must be treated with insecticides.
Recommended Control: Use row covers to prevent bugs from feeding on young plantings, but remove at first flower. Kill nymphs and adults with diazinon, dimethoate, endosulfan or chlorpyriphos. ORGANIC control methods include the use of row covers, hand picking, traps, and spraying with neem or pyrethrum. Nymphs can be killed with insecticidal soap. Spray applications must be directed towards the feeding sites under the leaves and under the plant canopy. The SQUASH BUG is a perennial pest, primarily of squash and pumpkin, which should be controlled by initiating insecticide applications or hand picking when adults or egg masses are first noted on plants.
Caterpillars and Cutworms
Caterpillars and Cutworms are ‘worm’ like larval-stages of insects that will mature into moths or butterflies. They emerge from small eggs laid on plant tissue and can grow to be several inches in length. Caterpillars have chewing mouthparts and feed on leaves, stems, and fruit. Most caterpillars are found feeding on leaves or fruit and are often noted when you observe their excrement on leaves or soil beneath the feeding caterpillar.
Recommended Control: Young plants and transplants can be protected from cutworms by placing ‘collars’ around the base of the plant stems. The best method to control
caterpillars that feed on leaves and fruit is with applications of pesticides derived from Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstoki or aizawai (e.g. Dipel, Javelin, Xentari). SWEET CORN - the
corn earworm is a perennial pest and may best be controlled by directly applying a spray mixture of pyrethrum with an emulsifiable oil in water to the corn silk at 2 day intervals
beginning with silk emergence.
Leafhoppers are closely related to bugs and feed in the same manner. They are generally much smaller and brighter in color. They can become very numerous and are very active. The immature stage nymphs actively run when disturbed and the adults actively ‘hop’ or fly when disturbed.
Recommended Control: Nymphs and adults can be killed with diazinon, malathion, endosulfan and dimethoate. ORGANIC control is best achieved with sprays of neem or pyrethrum. These pests are very active and migrate great distances; therefore, spray treatments may have to be repeated to bring large populations under control.
Soil Insects
Soil Insects (wireworms, grubs, cutworms) live in the soil. Those that are pests, feed on roots or other portions of the plant in contact with the soil, including fruit. Healthy, vigorously growing plants can outgrow the damage from a limited number of root feeding insects; however, large numbers can limit your harvest or kill your plants.
 Recommended Control: There are few effective methods of killing soil insects once they are damaging the plants, therefore prevention is the best policy. Prevent problems by
planting into well cultivated soil that has not been in sod for the previous year. Several granular insecticides (e.g. diazinon, chlorpyriphos) are available and application prior to planting
will effectively control pest insects.
Spider Mites
Spider Mites are not insects but are closely related arthropods. Look for mites on
the underside of leaves. They cause a general yellowing and stippling of the leaf tissue.
Webbing similar to spider webs will be present around colonies on leaves, stems and fruit. Large populations can kill leaves and reduce yield.
Recommended Control: Dicofol is the most effective miticide but is labeled for use only on specific crops and label instructions must be followed. Dimethoate, endosulfan, malathion and diazinon are moderately effective in killing mites, but applications must be directed to the lower surfaces
of leaves and repeated applications are necessary. ORGANIC methods of control include applications of neem and insecticidal soap at repeated short intervals.
Thrips are very small insects that rasp, tear,and remove nutrients from leaves causing a silver streaking of the leaf tissue and leaf curling. They often are very abundant early in the season and the damage may be very notable on cotyledons and first true leaves. Generally, plants outgrow the damage and control often is not necessary.
Recommended Control: When extremely abundant, or if they are damaging fruit or edible leaves, control may be warranted. Applications of dimethoate or endosulfan are most effective in reducing numbers, but must be repeated because eggs are laid in the plant tissue and are not affected
by pesticides. ORGANIC control may be achieved by repeated, direct applications of neem or pyrethrum.
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