This is the first in an ongoing series on lawn and garden pests and pest control that I’ll be adding to as time allows. Another series will be on various weeds that are common in the area. Both were inspired by conversations with friends and neighbors who were either new to the area or new to gardening and thus were not familiar with the creepy crawlies, or other common backyard wildlife co-habitants.
It wasn’t long ago that a friend asked if I knew what was eating their cabbage. Recognizing the characteristic holes and chewing patterns of the larval imported cabbage moth, it took only a few moments to find the culprits – lovely melon green colored caterpillars were hiding along the curled edges of the leaves, waiting out the high heat temps of the day.
With the unusually high temperatures that we’ve been having, everything is actively growing – including the very hungry caterpillars.
Ants, caterpillars, millipedes, Colorado Potato beetles and their kin, aphids, and so many other common pests are making their presence known through the characteristic leaf cut marks, sap-sucking wilt, or even entire plant demise that can be seen with the tomatoes cut worm or sawflies.
Learning how to manage these creatures from a woman who raised a family through the Great Depression, World War II, and then the post-war boom was often a mix of practical advice (when you find the caterpillars and eggs, and crush them between your fingers, show no mercy or you will go hungry) or reaching for the can of bug spray. Be it Borax or Raid used as a tool of control, it was a strange but effective alchemy.
Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’ forever changed our relationship with pesticides, and culturally our agricultural classrooms became divided – we became a people of convention, or a people of organic. My approach has always been somewhere in the middle.
If it’s to be consumed or shared at the table or with friends, few if any, pesticides or herbicides are ever used. With large spans of ornamental beds, the lawn, or highly prized plants that are infested and natural methods have proven ineffective – I use what modern science has provided, and only as much as is needed.
Pest Information, Mis-Information and My Promise to You
While researching online sources for non-toxic garden pest control, I found a lot of sites were alarmist or sensational in their content (Control Household Pests Without Scary Poisons), and many that were not original in their content – they were copied and pasted without further research, experimentation, or evaluation of their effectiveness.
My promise to you, kind readers, is that information and recipes on Farming Fort Collins has been tried and tested and I’ll post my honest opinion on it’s effectiveness, or it will be very clearly stated who has tested it or if it needs to be.
This article in Mother Earth News has a lot of good information on it. Written in 2011 and still relevant, it is a survey of the magazine’s readers to see what pest they find themselves battling, and what organic controls were effective or not. I hope you find the article as interesting and informative as I did, and I look forward to sharing those methods that I’ve or other reliable resources have found to be effective, and the conversation about what you’ve found to be economic and effective in your patch.
Thursday’s post will cover the standard ‘best practices’ that are known to be effective and preventative in whatever may be bugging you or your plants.
Until next time, may your knees be green, and your spirits light.