Insects in the Home & Garden FAQ
LADY BUGSKathy....Ladybird beetles are looking (and have apparently found) a comfortable place to spend the winter. I'm guessing they've found a corner and clustered in large numbers there...?...right? Yes, a few may be flying around here and there - probably on sunny windows...but there has to be a spot where the many have grouped together. Here's a little background. Ladybugs are highly beneficial. They can eat upwards of 500 aphids (each!) every day. They consume thousands of tiny eggs of other pesky insects, too. I never harm a ladybug...and I revel (really) when I see more than a few in my garden. Normally, they seek out some comfy outdoor spot like a barn, wood shed, stone wall, wood pile or small opening in house siding to over-winter. Occasionally they blunder into a home. Please don't spray them. Here's what to do: first, cool the house down (like she would normally do at night). That'll slow them down and make them easier to handle. Find a small box (shoebox works very well) and, using a sheet of paper or light cardboard, gently scoop and scrape as many as possible into the box (don't be afraid of them - they're completely harmless to humans ---- completely).....put the lid on.....take it out to the shed (garage, barn, wood pile, neighbor's barn, etc.), and set it on a protected shelf where rain, snow, wind & ice won't affect it. It's important to either cut a small hole in the lid...or leave the lid slightly ajar so they can get out in the spring. There.....you have just saved probably hundreds of little lives... and helped rid your Mom's neighborhood of those wretched aphids. Fred
10-14-00 Help! my Mom's house is full of something that looks like ladybugs. How can we get rid of them? Thank you, K.
Grubs & Grub-X in the vegetable garden
5/29/03 My father wants to put grubx on his vegetable garden to kill grubs. I don't think you can put this chemical on a vegetable garden. Please tell me what he can do. He's already planted some vegetables. Thank you. Sharon
Greetings, Sharon! Thanks for your question. You're right...Grub-X is not something an organic gardener (or one who leans heavily in the direction of chemical-free gardening) should be spreading on what's destined to be consumed as food. And you're to be congratulated for being cautious about what you and your Dad put on your food!
Virtually every strictly organic gardener and farmer in the civilized world knows that BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) is the control of choice...and uses it freely. Commonly marketed under the name of "Dipel", it's a harmless-to-humans bacteria that attacks only the intestinal system of grubs and larvae of many harmful soil-dwelling insects. You'll find it at your local farm supply or garden center....just ask for biological grub control. If they don't have it, you can get it at Johnny's.... www.johnnyseeds.com -- type 9386 into the "Item Number" box in the upper left.
There are also beneficial nematodes that can deal with grubs and things like cutworms. You'll also find those in the farm-n-garden stores — perhaps even at garden centers. You mix with water, spray or sprinkle onto wet soil (in the rain works)...they enter the soil and look for their favorite food. I've used it, and it works well on both types of insects.
Chinch Bug Control
7/6/03 Hello....Thank you for the opportunity to ask this question. I would like to use a natural safe alternative to the commercial control for a chinch bug infestation on my home's lawn. I am in Northern Ontario, Canada. I own a hand sprayer and was hoping you might have a recipe I could mix myself and/or recommend a commercially available concentrate. Thank You. D.
Greetings, Doug! You're most welcome....And thanks for your question.
Chinch Bugs.....There is current research into the effectiveness of Milky Spore on the grub stage. That's a possibility...early in the season. Some types of beneficial nematodes are also being looked into....nothing definitive yet (that I know of). Adults on the surface can be quickly dispatched with combined Rotenone/Pyrethrin either as a dust of a liquid spray. I strongly suspect that a heavier application of the liquid would soak into the first inch of turf and take out anything at that level.
Take a look at http://www.planetnatural.com/chinchbug_control.html for some tips and products for their control. Johnny's Selected Seeds also carries the Rotenone/Pyrithrin in 8ounce size - www.johnnyseeds.com . Also look at http://www.ianr.unl.edu/pubs/insects/g806.htm for some solid information and management ideas. It's generally for growers of field crops...but good basic, foundational info. And finally, Canada's Government site also has some good info....better for the home gardener: http://www.gov.nf.ca/env/Env/final/bugs/chinch.html. Good Luck! Fred
Viburnum Leaf Beetle
7/6/03 Hi. Two of our three young viburnums are plagued by leaf beetles (maple leaf and arrowwood viburnums are infested; cayuga viburnum seems oblivious). I'm looking for any natural insecticides which might help. Any Ideas? J. R. in Brunswick.
Greetings, Jack....Does, indeed sound like viburnum leaf beetle. http://www.hort.cornell.edu/VLB/manage.html will tell you how to deal with them (and you can use the links on the left of that page to learn more about the insect...from Cornell -- a very reliable source!).
My first choice of pesticides would be combined Pyrethrin/Rotenone as either a dust or water-base spray. Good Luck....and enjoy what's left of summer! Fred
Natural Bee ControlThanks for your question.....I think. Yes, there are several "natural" substances which kill bees...though, unless you mean wasps or hornets, I can't imagine why anyone would threaten honeybees. They are among a gardener's (and Nature's) greatest allies and, if left to their own devices, cause little harm. (Though, admittedly, honeybees could be a problem for someone with serious allergies to their venom.) Virtually any pesticide -- natural, biological, or chemical -- will harm honeybees... pyrethrin and rotenone, or a mix of both, are "contact" insecticides, and must be sprayed directly on the insect.
9/13/04 "Is there a natural substance that kills bees? Thank you! Barb"
I urge you, however, to carefully consider the consequences before attacking this highly-beneficial insect...even on a limited, local scale. Fred.
Ticks in the gardenYes, actually. Pyrethrin (essentially ground-up Painted Daisies) is a highly effective, natural insect control available at any garden center...even the big box stores have it now. You'll want the liquid, mixed at label dilution. If you add the normal dilution rate of Safer's Insecticidal Soap, coverage and control will be more broad. Pyrethrin is a "contact" spray...meaning that generally it must land on the insect. So it's important to a thorough job and cover everything—all the shrubs, lawn, weeds, any boards or the like lying about (even underneath them), and wood fences. And you'll want to repeat that every couple of weeks for at least the next month to nail any emerging babies or new-comers.
4/22/05 "Hi, Is there an effective natural insecticide for ticks in my garden? Thanks. G. M."
Sadly, the ones just outside your garden—in the neighbor's yard, or grassy/brambly field nearby—will eventually move into your yard to take up the slack caused by the deaths of their many-legged compadres. So....if it's house pets you're trying to protect, perhaps you should also consider "flea/tick" collars from the local pet center....or the painfully and shamefully over-priced "FrontLine" preventative now making veterinarians and at least one drug company rich. Fred.
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