Yard sprays kill good bugs, too

Q. What can I spray to get rid of these bugs?

John from Youngstown

A. Spraying is not the first question that should come to mind when you see an insect. From gardeners to farmers, we need to focus on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods to determine if a control is needed for an insect.

The first step to IPM is identifying the insect. Is it a good bug, or is it a bad bug?

Once we know what kind of bug it is, we need to know more about its impact. Are there enough of them and are they damaging my plants or causing other problems?

When control is necessary, we first discuss physical methods (picking off bad insects or using traps like cardboard for slugs.

Then we talk about cultural methods, biological and so on. Many of these methods are what our great grandparents used back in the day. Many are still used today and are quite effective.

Ohio State University Extension just completed a great, infographics based sheet that explains many of these methods in detail. Check it out to gain a good understanding of organic control methods. Here is the link: http://go.osu.edu/organicbugcontrol

Chemical control (organic or conventional) is usually our last resort when other options do not work or are not effective enough to control the pest at hand.

Both organic and conventional chemicals should be handled with care and users must read and follow all label directions. More is not better.

The other notable mention for insect control is the “home remedies” that are shared among gardening friends or found on the internet.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Many of these concoctions are in fact chemicals, even though you might think of them as common household items that are safe. These mixes can damage the plant and soil more than the insect.

Be sure to do your homework and find a reputable site, such as extension.org or a university extension website to check for verification that the method is valid.

Before you decide how to deal with insects at your home or garden, you can check out this complete description of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) located at: go.osu.edu/ipm.

Eric Barrett is OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Call the office plant and pest clinic at 330-533-5538 to submit your questions. Regular clinic hours are 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays.

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