Aphids and harmful pests
Photo: Dwight Kuhn
Description: Small, soft-bodied sucking insects; green, pink, yellow, red, brown or black
Where: They congregate at succulent stem tips and underside of tender leaves. Found throughout North America
Damage: Curled leaves, yellow foliage, sticky honeydew, transmission of plant diseases
Controls: Forceful water spray, insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, ladybugs, lacewings, neem
Grow plants in your yard, and you're bound to have pests. There's no way around that, but how you deal with the critters is changing. A decade ago it was common to reach for potent bug sprays that killed — indiscriminately — as soon as the creepy crawlers were sighted. But with increasing concern over chemicals in the environment, there are now safer ways to manage pests in our yards. The system is called integrated pest management, or IPM. This commonsense approach relies on the least toxic methods to keep bugs from devouring plants. IPM begins with preventing pests in the first place. It then proceeds to using traps, barriers and helpful insects and, finally, pesticides that are not as toxic as some used in the past. The idea is to keep pests at manageable levels, not to wipe them out completely. You don't have to be an expert to make IPM work, but you do need to know something about your plants and their pests, and then weigh the best solutions.
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