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Natural Insect Control

Some days you're the bug; some days, the windshield!

Check out the insect treatments page for homemade controls.
Take a look at our cross referenced pesticide treatment chart.

Click on your choice of insect in the table below to view treatments and information.
Some of the choices have extensive info and will take you to another page.
Aphid Cucumber Beetles Mosquitoes
Ants Cutworms Nematodes
Bedbugs Earwig Pest Treatment Chart
Beneficial Insects Elm Leaf Beetle Sow or Pill Bugs
Borers Flea Beetle Squash Bugs
Boxelder Bugs Grasshoppers Thrips
Carrot Rust Fly Fungus Gnat Ticks and Fleas
Caterpillars- Destructive Japanese Beetle Tomato Hornworm
Cockroach Leafminers Ugh...Slugs
Codling Moth Millipedes Whitefly
Colorado Potato Beetle Mites Wireworm


Having healthy soil and a good eco-balance in your yard allows nature to take care of itself. Plants have naturally inherent abilities to ward off adverse conditions when living in healthy soil. Proper pruning and sanitation is a big part of the picture. Cleanup of rotten fruit, leaves and diseased plants is crucial. When you have insect problems remember that insects are attracted to unhealthy plant material. They are scavengers. However if you have encountered a pest or disease that has become uncontrollable try these natural methods to eliminate the problem and bring things back in balance. Always observe some basic rules when you try any of these, even though they are natural, damage can occur. Use homemade remedies  and botanical poisons with caution and as a last resort.

  • See spraying basics for proper application methods and some general insect treatments you can try in the insect treatment section.

Ants: Clicking on ants will take you to another page.

For aphid control we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Diatomaceous Earth, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide,

Ants "farm" aphids often keeping them in their nest during winter, then bringing them out in spring and placing them on the host plant.  The ants eat the honeydew the aphids produce and move them from plant to plant spreading any diseases that are present. The honeydew favors formation of a black fungus known as "sooty mold." Control of the ants may often solve the aphid problem.  Aphids abound in warm moist environments and will attack almost anything, favoring succulent new growth.
Predators: Green lacewings, ladybugs and their respective larvae have a voracious appetite for aphids. Larvae from the syrphid fly also consume aphids. Hover flies and praying mantis feed on aphids.
Repellent plants: Anise, chives, coriander (cilantro), garlic, onions, petunias and radish. Nasturtiums act as a trap crop. Aphids definitely prefer yellow flowers.

  • Squashing a few aphids around the infested plants releases a chemical signal that makes the other aphids drop from the plants and leave.
  • To foil aphids: flatten a square of aluminum foil around the base of plants to bounce light on the undersides of leaves. This also helps the plants in giving them more light.
  • Try a barrier of  powdered charcoal, calcium dust or bonemeal to keep them away from your plants.
  • Stinging Nettle Spray: Aphids & Thrips - Cover 1 quart nettles with water, cover and ferment for 3 weeks. Mix 1 part nettle tea with 7 parts water. Spray.
  • Spread out a barrier of tansy around the base of the plant to stop those ants.
  • Use a spray made from a tea of tomato or potato leaves and water.
  •   Chop 12 or so tomato leaves and 1 chopped onion in 1/2 cup of of 70% isopropyl alcohol for a few minutes. Apply the mixture directly on aphids with a cue tip or paintbrush.
  • A forceful spray of water is often enough to knock the aphids off the plant and may discourage the ants, well sometimes.
  • Put a bright yellow plastic pan in a strategic spot in the garden. Fill it a third of the way full with water. Aphids are drawn to the yellow color, land on the water, sink and drown.
  • A soap spray can be used to strip them of their protective wax coating, dehydrating them. Mix 1 tablespoon of Castile soap to 1 gallon of water, spray.
  • Garlic oil spray can kill aphids and other soft bodied pests.
  • A dusting of diatomaceous earth is lethal to aphids. Wear a mask when using DE.
  • Teas made from elderberry or rhubarb leaves can act as a deterrent. Oxalic acid is the compound present in these plants that makes a spray effective. It is poisonous.
  • Place banana peels at the base of infested plant. The peels give them a shot of potassium too!
  • Also See: Treatments: Horseradish, elderberry and yarrow tea.
  • For wooly aphids on apple trees: grow the trailing type nasturtiums training them  to wrap up and around the tree trunk to ward off these pests. Very attractive too! Note: nasturtiums will specifically attract the black aphid while repelling others.

Apple Maggot:
For Apple maggot we carry: Pyrethrum Spray

Asparagus Beetle:
For asparagus beetle we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Garden Dust Insecticide/FungicidePyrethrum Spray

Beneficial Insect: Clicking on beneficial insects will take you to another page.

Bed Bugs:
For Bedbugs we have: Diatomaceous Earth, Insect Soap, 1600 X-Clude

Adult bedbugs are approximately 3/16-inch long, oval, flat and rusty red or mahogany colored. They look like a small lentil. Bedbugs are flat and thin when unfed, but become more elongated, plump and red in color when they are full of blood. They have four-segmented antennae that are attached to the head between the prominent compound eyes. The two-segmented beak is located beneath the head passing back between the front legs. Bedbugs cannot fly.

Bed bugs are nocturnal coming out of their hiding places at night. They will travel whatever distance it takes to feed. If you have a  wooden bed frame they can hide in the frame however if you have a metal bed frame they will hide somewhere else. They will also hide in mattresses and box springs favoring the seams and underneath the buttons. They will hide en mass in crevices, behind posters on a wall, under rugs, behind loose wallpaper, and anywhere they can squeeze in. They can get behind molding, electrical plates, under carpet, crown molding etc. Bedbugs will nest at any level. Inspect anything which is mounted on the wall. Inspect all furniture in the room including dressers and night tables. It goes without saying they are hard to find and masters at hiding.

They "glue" their eggs in the hiding places. The nymphs hatch in about ten days and molt five times, taking a blood meal between each molt. The life cycle from egg to adult has a variance between 36 and 120 days. The variance depends on conditions as the nymphs can survive long periods of starvation so the life cycle may be extended considerably.

You know they have snacked on you when you find an itchy red dot with a lighter red ring around it. There's often one or more straight lines of these wheals, marking where your body met the bed. The earliest sign of bedbugs, other than wheals on your body, is tiny dots of blood on the sheets. That's because wounds from bedbug bites bleed a little. Bedbug poop is a liquid; it appears as darker dots on the sheets. Bed bugs do not carry any disease. If you are seeing drops of blood on your sheets it is a good indication that you are being bitten by bed bugs. Bites should be washed with soap and water. If itching is severe, some relief may be achieved by dabbing the bites with calamine lotion or Supreme Neem oil.

Soap and hot water will also kill the bed bugs on contact.  When it is colder than 25 degrees F, place mattresses and furniture outside for several hours to kill bed bugs. Wash all bedding, curtains and clothing in hot water on a regular basis.

For borer control we carry: Diatomaceous Earth, Thurcide BTK, Garden Syringe Applicator, Spinosad

Borers are terribly destructive insects and there are many kinds that can attack trees and shrubs. It our intention to speak generally about borer control and not get into each specific bug. Of all the borers they either turn into moths or beetles and include: ash borer, willow borer, peach tree borer, peach twig borer, maple borer, azalea stem borer, bronze birch borer, white pine shoot borer, lilac borer etc. The first signs we see from borers are usually a small hole in a tree that is either leaking sap or has frass extruding from the hole. Frass is the term for the brown, sticky sawdust substance that comes out of the borer holes. Plants that have been attacked by borers are more vulnerable to disease. Adversely plants that are diseased are also more prone to borer damage. We must remember that insects are scavengers, if something is ailing they will take advantage.

Female borers are out in the summer looking for trees to lay their eggs on. In Northern areas this is generally in July, for Southern areas usually August and September. They like to lay their eggs on tree trunks a few inches below the soil line, at the soil line and to about a foot above the soil line. Some species, such as the lesser peach tree borer will lay their eggs in crotches or damaged areas of the upper tree limbs. Borers produce one generation per year. All these areas need to be monitored as the sooner you intervene the better success your treatment will have. The larva hatch and as soon as cooler weather arrives they go into a rest period for the summer. The following season as soon as the weather warms up they are ready to feed and do their damage.

The larva do their damage when tunneling underneath the bark. If their tunnel makes a complete circle around the tree through the cambium layer it will kill the tree. Peach tree borers will also attack apricot, cherry, nectarine and plum trees.

  1. Take some stiff wire and work it into the hole to kill them.
  2. Make a solution of Diatomaceous Earth and inject it into the hole or, even better, inject a solution of Bacillus Thuringiensis v. Kurstaki (a biological control) into the hole. Beneficial nematodes can also be injected into borer holes. You can get veterinary syringes at farm supply stores to use for injecting the holes. When done use some plumbers putty or some floral clay to seal the hole. You can also use the frass to seal up the hole.
  3. Encourage natural predators in the area like birds.
  4. Carefully clean any loose or dead bark from the tree particularly a few inches below the soil line, at soil line and a few inches above the soil line. Keep an eye on the upper tree portion also looking for loose bark, dead limbs etc. These places are where the female borers look to lay their eggs in summer.
  5. Use specific pheromone lures, which will confuse the males and keep them from mating with the females.
  6. Planting garlic around the base of trees is said to repel borers. Try it but don’t rely on it.
  7. Be sure to remove winter or other wise damaged limbs from your trees. When pruning don’t tear or strip bark when you cut and please make proper cuts. Your trees will appreciate it.
  8. This method is not organic but we list it for your information. You use camphor crystals or balls to kill and repel them. Using the right amount per tree is critical as too much can damage the tree. You want to spread them in a circle around the base of the tree on top of the soil about 1 inch away from the trunk. Place some dirt on the camphor to make a mound. This mound will keep the vapors from the camphor contained around the trunk where you want them. The amount to use correlates with the age of the tree. For trees less than 3 years use ½ of an ounce. Trees that are 3-6 years old use ¾ of an ounce. Older trees require 1 ounce. Use this method with caution if you have small children and pets that like to dig.
  9. Your best defense against borers is to keep your trees and shrubs healthy with proper fertilizing, watering and pruning. To keep your plants healthy try our Golden Harvest Natural Fertilizer and C-Spray for foliar fertilizing and root soaks. Our HumAcid is also very beneficial when used on the soil around trees and may be used as a foliar treatment too in conjunction with fertilizing.
  10. Sanitation is important- get rid leaves, branches etc. that might harbor eggs over winter.
  11. Other than that keeping your trees healthy and well fertilized is your best defense against borers. For now follow the above suggestions and keep monitoring your trees for any new holes.

Boxelder Bugs:  Clicking on boxelder bugs will take you to another page.

Cabbage Looper, Cabbage Maggot, Cabbageworm:
For cabbage looper we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Thuricide BTK, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide, Insect Soap, Pyrethrum Spray, Spinosad

Carrot Rust Fly:
For carrot rust flies we carry:
Diatomaceous Earth, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide, Insect Soap, Pyrethrum Spray

Eggs are deposited in the crowns of carrot plants in late spring.. The larvae is a maggot that is 1/3 inch in length, yellow-white in color with no legs. They tunnel down the length of carrots leaving a characteristic rust colored path. These maggots can overwinter in the garden soil. The adult is a thin, shiny green or black fly with a yellow head and legs. Several generations are produced through the season.
Repellant plants: Black salsify (oyster plant), coriander, lettuce, onion family, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage.

  • Set out yellow sticky traps inserting their stake in the soil so they set at a 45 degree angle.
  • Place sprigs of wormwood around the plants crown. This masks the scent of carrots and the flies will leave them alone.
  • Sow your carrot seeds with used tea leaves.
  • Spread wood ashes or rock phosphate powder right next to the crowns.
  • Plant your carrots during late spring or early summer to stave the maggots.
  • Pile soil over the top of the carrot root to stop them from laying eggs.
  • When sowing your carrot seeds mix them with used coffee grounds to repel the rust fly from laying their eggs.

Caterpillars- Destructive
For caterpillars we carry:
Diatomaceous Earth, Thuricide BTK, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide, Spinosad 

Canker Worms: (Alsophila pometaria) Fall cankerworms, AKA loopers or inchworms, devour the leaves of hardwood trees which include maple, oak, cherry and apple. They are yellow, green or brown caterpillars. Cankerworm populations go through ten year cycles which often peak for two to three years. In much of the affected area, this is the second and possibly the last year of the cycle. Many will be eaten by birds and other predators. The remaining cankerworms will feed until mid-June after which they will crawl into the ground to pupate. In October they begin to re-emerge as moths.

In the fall, individual trees can also be protected by placing a plastic band with a sticky substance such as Tanglefoot around the truck. This prevents the wingless female moths from climbing the trunk to lay eggs.

Use BTK when caterpillars are feeding on leaves and be sure that your trees get enough water through the summer and fall.

Do not use a high nitrogen fertilizer on a lawn near a defoliated tree. It causes the tree to use up its starch reserves. Wait until fall and use a complete granular fertilizer.

For Canker worms we carry: Diatomaceous Earth, Thuricide BTK, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide, Spinosad 

Tent Caterpillars: The easiest control for trees up to 13 to 16 feet tall is to use a  large stick, broom handle, etc. and when the caterpillars are in their nests (usually at noon or during rains) poke the stick into the center of the nest then roll the stick. The silk fibers of the nest will adhere to the stick and as you roll the stick, the silk will wrap the caterpillars up tight in their nest. Then slide the nest and caterpillars off the stick with your foot and squash the whole mass.

For smaller trees or shrubs wash the caterpillars off the leaves with a garden hose and squash them with your foot when they land on the lawn.

In fall and winter destroy egg mass that can be seen on branches about the size of a pencil.

Btk a bacterial spray which when applied to the leaves being eaten by the caterpillars, poisons the caterpillars, killing them usually in about 12 hours or less. Bt only kills caterpillars of the moth and butterfly family and does not harm insects of other families which are beneficial including many insects that may eat the tent caterpillars. Non toxic to people, critters and birds. BTK works on all caterpillars.

For Tent caterpillars we carry: Thuricide BTK, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide, Spinosad 

Cockroaches: Clicking on cockroaches will take you to another page.

Codling Moth:
For codling moths we carry: Codling Moth Traps, Thuricide BTK, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide, Pyrethrum Spray, Spinosad

Repellant plants: Any member of the allium family especially chives. Penstemons.

  • Spray Thuricide BTK for first-generation codling moth larva approximately two weeks after petal fall. Repeat every 3 to 5 days at twilight over a two-week period.
  • In fall practice good sanitation and clean up all the fallen fruit and leaves they overwinter in. Very important.
  • Lavender planted under and near fruit trees can deter codling moth. Chives planted under fruit trees are of benefit.
  • In July spread a band of tanglefoot, or use tanglefoot spray around the trunks of trees to trap the caterpillars. On immature trees don't apply the tanglefoot directly on the bark. Use tree wrap or some other type of barrier between the bark and the tanglefoot to avoid damaging the tree trunk.
  • A garlic spray can be useful against the codling moth and the natural sulfur in garlic doubles as a fungicide.
  • Make a trap for the ones that get away: Mix together 4 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/2 cup of molasses and 1 tablespoon of yeast. Put this into an empty plastic milk jug in which you cut an entrance hole near the top. Run some rope through the handle and hang in the tree. Use two traps per mature tree. Keep the traps up for 2 months and empty weekly. Another bait mixture you can use is sassafras oil and glacial acetic acid.

CObeetle.jpg (4421 bytes)Colorado potato beetle:  
For Colorado potato beetle we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Diatomaceous Earth, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide, Pyrethrum Spray, Spinosad

Orange heads, 1/3 inch long with yellow bodies marked with black stripes or dots. Eggs are bright yellow and laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves. The eggs hatch in 5-9 days. The larvae are fat and red with black spots and black heads. Both adults and larvae skeletonize the foliage. 1-3 generations are produced per season. They attack eggplants, tomato, pepper and potato plants. Extremely destructive insects!
Predators: Beneficial nematodes, chickens, lacewings, ladybugs, two-spotted stink bug, songbirds, toads and groundbeetles. Commercially available is a parasitic wasp known as Edovum puttleri.
Repellent plants: Beans, catnip, coriander, dead nettle, garlic, marigolds, flax, horseradish. and tansy.

  • A foliar spray of fish emulsion can help to repel them and fertilize your plants.
  • Another good foliar spray is to use 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide per 1 gallon of water. Spray this directly on the adults in the morning or evening.
  • Make a tea from cedar chips, cool and spray on foliage.
  • Diatomaceous earth will kill the larvae. For adults use pyrethrum or a rotenone and pyrethrum mixture as a last resort.
  • A dusting of finely milled wheat bran on moist foliage will entice the beetles to eat it, swelling up and exploding them.
  • Most effective is to smash the eggs and handpick the adults, dump into soapy water.
  • Dry out some leaves of tansy, grind using a mortar and pestle. Mix with water at a ratio of 3/4 ounce of tansy powder to 32 ounces of water. Use as a foliar spray. Very effective!
  • Using a few drops of essential oils of basil, eucalyptus or peppermint in a gallon of water as a spray on the plants can work quite well.
  • When disturbed the beetles drop like a rock from the plants. Walk alongside your plants holding a bucket underneath brushing the foliage with your hands as you go and you will trap a good portion of them. Dump soapy water into the bucket to destroy them.

Cucumber beetles: Clicking on cucumber Beetles will take you to another page.

For cutworms we carry: Diatomaceous Earth, Thuricide BTK, Garden Dust Insecticide/Fungicide, Pyrethrum Spray, Spinosad

The larvae are distinctive looking, 1/2-1 inch long, gray or brown, with bristles and curl into a circle when bothered. They are nocturnal feeders and hole up in the soil during the day. Eggs masses are laid on tree trunks, leaves and fences. Eggs hatch in 2-10 days. The adults are the infamous "Miller: moth. May produce up to 5 generations per year. Last generation is a brown pupae that overwinters in the soil.
Predators: Toads, blackbirds, firefly larvae, lacewings, tachnid flies, trichogramma and braconid wasps.
Repellant plants: Sheperd's purse and tansy.

  • Bacillus thurengiensis (BT) is very effective when used for the caterpillar stage and safe.
  • A sprinkling of cornmeal or bran throughout the garden will be devoured by them and they die!
  • Make trenches 3-4 inches wide by 2-3 inches deep. Fill these with oak leaves or crushed eggshells.
  • Spray your plants with a few drops of pineapple weed or sagebrush extract mixed with a quart H2O.
  • Mix molasses with 50% sawdust and 50% bran. Add a little water. Drop globs of this around plants in the evening. This immobilizes them and they become victims for predators.
  • Make collars to protect the stems of your plants out of PVC pipe, cardboard tubes, soup cans anything you can come up with. Make the collars about 3 inches high and wide enough to allow for stem growth. Sink them into the soil about one inch.
  • Sink screws or nails in the soil next to plants stems to prevent them wrapping around and cutting.

For earwigs we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Diatomaceous Earth, Pyrethrum Spray

Earwigs in general can be considered  an ally in the garden as they will eat aphids, insect larvae, snails, and other slow moving bugs. and other pests at night as they are nocturnal. One truly good function of the insect is they eat the eggs of the codling moth which is a serious problem with apple trees. When you have an over population of earwigs they can become a nuisance.  Generally they will  feed on your marigolds and they really go for clematis vines, dahlias, delphiniums, pansies and chrysanthemums. They cause the most trouble June through October.

  • A favored control method is spreading diatomaceous earth where they are apt to crawl. Make applications in late spring about a week apart, and treat the soil around the foundations of houses, along walks, fences, and around trees. Botanical insecticides should be used as spot treatments or crack and crevice sprays.
  • One possible control in dealing with earwigs  is to mix insecticide soap with isopropyl alcohol and spray the infested area every two to three days for two weeks. To make this spray add 1 tablespoon of the alcohol to each quart of  insecticide soap.
  • Another method is to trap earwigs in pieces of old hose or rolled up newspapers.  Check these during day and shake the insects into a bucket of soapy water.
  • A very successful method to get rid of earwigs is to take a shallow, straight-sided container and fill it half full with vegetable oil.  Clean out the bodies every day and you may reuse the oil as often as you like. We have found that this works particularly well in a greenhouse situation.
  • Here's another trap mixture: 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp molasses, 1 tbsp dry yeast, 8 ozs water. Mix all the ingredients well and place in a small plastic container (like a cottage cheese container). Bury the container to ground level. Clean it out as needed.

Elm Leaf Beetle:
For Elm Leaf Beetles we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Spinosad

Small to 1/2 inch yellow and black or brownish yellow beetles or 1/4 inch beetles that are yellow with green and black stripes. The adults winter over in buildings, tree bark and protected areas outside. In the fall they can get into your house. In spring they return to the elm trees feeding on the new foliage leaving small holes in the leaves. They mate during the feeding time. The larva emerge as small black caterpillars and turn to a dull yellow with black stripes as they mature. They eat the undersides of leaves in the elm trees giving them a ragged, skeletonized appearance. The feeding continues for several weeks at which point they drop to the ground and pupate. In June and early July brilliant yellow pupae may be seen around the base of the tree. They are a serious pest of elm trees. There can be one to three generations per season.

  • Spray trees with a mixture of pyrethrum and isopropyl alcohol. Mix 1 pint of alcohol, 8 ounces of  water with the pyrethrum in the concentration recommended on the product label. You then need to spray this every 3 to 5 days for a period of two weeks.

Flea beetle:
For flea beetles we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Diatomaceous Earth, Pyrethrum Spray, Yellow Sticky Traps

Adults are tiny at 1/10 of an inch and hop like a flea. They have a brown or black body (some with yellow stripes.) They lay eggs in the soil with 1-2 generations per year. Adults overwinter in garden debris. The larva will feed on plant roots whereas the adults attack foliage and stems. They flourish in stable warm spring weather but do not fare well during alternating periods of hot and cold temperatures with intermittent rains. They will not eat in wet weather and hide.
Toads, which eat all stages of the bug as will chickadees, vireos, purple finches. Ground beetles and parasitic wasps will hunt them.
Repellent plants:
Candytuft, garlic, mints, shepherd's purse, tansy and wormwood.

  • Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth as a barrier around plants or dust the whole plant with it.
  • Onion and garlic are natural flea-beetle repellants. Teas can be made from these plants to use a spray on susceptible plants.
  • Seedlings are most vulnerable to flea beetle feeding when stressed, particularly by lack moisture.
  • Flea beetle control can be aided by using yellow sticky traps. Place individual traps every 15 to 30 feet of the plant row. 
  • Make a barrier of lime or coffee grounds around vulnerable plants.
  • Plant radishes or pak choi as trap crops. Stretch pantyhose over young cabbages. Tie top and bottom.
  • Chinese Daikon and Snow Belle radish are favorites of flea beetles. Plant these at 6 to 12 inch intervals among cole crops.
  • Use a mulch of chopped clover. Hot pepper or garlic sprays can help.
  • Scatter chopped and bruised leaves of tomato, mint, catnip, wormwood, bergamot or elderberry on and around plants the beetles like.
  • Wave strips of fly paper over plants. This disturbs the flea beetles, making them jump and get snared on the paper. This works extremely well!

Fungus Gnats:  
For the adult gnats we carry: BTI WDG Biological Larvicide, 1600 X-Clude, Diatomaceous Earth, Pyrethrum Spray, Yellow Sticky Traps, Spinosad

Fungus gnat adults are about 1/8 inch long, spindly looking flies with long legs and long, thread-like antennae. Their wings have a distinct Y-shaped vein at the tip. They resemble tiny mosquitoes more than common flies. Larvae live in the soil and can be difficult to find. The eggs are about 1/100 inch in length and laid in clusters. The larvae are more likely to be found in the early morning in the topsoil layer of a very wet pot. Larvae are translucent gray to white, about 1/4 inch long, wormy looking with no legs, and with shiny black heads. These insects can infest a crop from soil or algae under benches, from contaminated potting soil or by flying short distances from plant to plant.

Larvae can cause plant damage by feeding on the root hairs and fine feeder roots of plants. They can tunnel into the base of cuttings or plant stems. Plants attacked by larvae lose their vigor and will have yellowing leaves. Roots will exhibit small brownish scars on the surface.

A good trap for these annoying bugs is to put out small containers filled halfway with cider vinegar or some cheap beer in areas where  you are having problems with them. They dive into the vinegar and drown. Strain and reuse the vinegar until you have gained control of them.

Sticky Traps are most effective when place horizontally on the potting media surface, although vertically positioned cards hung over the crop canopy are also effective and trap more of other types of insect pests as well. In greenhouses place the traps under benches, close to intake vents, near doorways and outside of the the greenhouse can give you more information to detect breeding areas.

Potato slices: Slice potatoes into 1 by 1 by 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces. Placed on the surface of potting media the slices are attractive to the larval stages of fungus gnats. Leave the in place for about 4 hours before counting the number of larvae on and under the slices (Lindquist 1994). This method can be used to detect areas where larvae are developing. For smaller infestations use the potato method to catch and dispose of as many larva as you can.

To keep gnats from pestering you try a few dabs of pure vanilla extract on your skin or clothing. This is supposed to keep gnats at bay and vanilla has such a pleasant smell!

Grasshoppers: Clicking on grasshoppers will take you to another page.

Japanese Beetles: Clicking on Japanese beetles will take you to another page.

For leafminers we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Thuricide BTK, Spinosad and Blue Sticky Traps

The larvae are pale, translucent white or pale green 1/3 inch long maggots that create characteristic tunnels in or "mine" the leaf tissue. Maggots are also instrumental in black leg and soft rot disease. The adult is a fly that is black, gray or black and yellow with a length of 1/8 of an inch. We seem to never see the flies only the maggots. Adults winter over in cocoons and hatch in the spring to lay white, cylinder shaped eggs. The eggs are laid side by side in clumps on the under sides of leaves. When the larvae hatch they will mine the leaves for 2-3 weeks after which they will fall to the soil and pupate for 2 weeks to a month. They will destroy seedlings. Expect 2-3 generations per season. They can be a serious greenhouse pest on ornamentals.
Predators: Chickadee, robin, purple finch, ladybugs and lacewings.

  • When you see leaves with mines you want to remove and destroy them.
  • Smash the egg clusters as you find them.
  • Use row covers to protect seedlings.
  • Lambs quarter or dock are hosts and may be used as a trap crop.
  • Use neem oil to treat the egg, maggot or adult stage.
  • Use summer weight horticultural oils.
  • Smash them right in the leaves.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis will work when used on infested leaves.
  • Beneficial nematodes are helpful in controlling populations.

Punch holes in both sides and bottom of a tall can like a tomato juice can. Bury the can upright in the garden border. Fill it with carrot or potato peelings. Empty the can weekly and reset your trap.

Mites, Spider, Clover etc.:  
For mites we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Diatomaceous Earth, Insect Soap, Pyrethrum Spray

All species: Mites are tiny members of the arachnid family that can produce up to 16 generations per season. They overwinter in the soil. There are many species in colors of black, brown, green, red or yellow. Mites like hot, dry conditions and damage is identified by leaf veins turning yellow or red-brown then fine dusty looking webbing can be seen between leaves. Mites suck the chlorophyll out of plant tissue leaving dried out leaves with yellow or red spots and blotches sometimes with tiny white dots. Tap leaves over white paper to see mites. Mites are very common in evergreens so give them a drink more often!
Predators: Damsel bugs, ladybugs and green lacewings.
Repellent plants: Alder, coriander, dill, rye mulch and wheat mulch.

  • Increase humidity around plants and hit them with a forceful spray of water in the morning for several days.
  • Glue spray: Take 2 quarts of water, mix in 4 ounces of glue (like elmers) and let it stand for 12 hours. Sprayed on infected plants this will glue the mites as it dries and flake off doing no harm to the plant. Do this in the evening, not in the hot sun during the day  Clean out sprayer!!!
  • Combine buttermilk, potato flour and water to make a fairly thin mixture. Spray plants to suffocate the mites. This also will not harm plants and you may rinse it off after a few hours if you desire. Another buttermilk recipe uses 2 cups of wheat flour, 1 cup of buttermilk which you mix with 5 gallons of water. Use as above.
  • Garlic, chili pepper and soap sprays can help reduce mite populations. Also see the garlic-oil spray in the treatments section for an excellent homemade brew to control mites and aphids!
  • Ultra fine hort oil may used during the growing season or use dormant oil before bud break to control mites.
  • A mixture of coriander oil and water will kill them! Mix 1/2 ounce of coriander oil with 24 ounces of water. Use as a spray  and be very thorough in your coverage.
  • Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen which can encourage mite populations.
  • Neem oil works like a charm on mites.

Prevent mosquitoes from breeding in rain barrels by applying 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the water's surface.

For mosquitoes we carry: Mosquito BT Dunks. For a personal repellant spray we have Neem Protect Spray for People and Pets.

African or French marigolds give off chemicals which get rid of nematodes. French marigold varieties, Tangerine, Petite Harmony, or Petite Gold, may be used. Marigolds should be planted no more than seven inches apart and should be the only plants growing in the infested area. You can divide the garden, with half planted to marigolds and half to vegetables. Reverse the order next year.
Use interplantings of salvia scarlet sage, dahlia, calendula, or asparagus.
Growing flax (Linum species) as a covercrop helps control root knot nematodes. Treat as you would any covercrop.

Mix 1/2 a cup of white table sugar with 1 gallon of water. Stir to completely dissolve sugar. Pour directly on the soil and around plant roots where you have the nematode problems. This can also be used as a treatment prior to planting. The sugar has extra benefits via adding some trace minerals to the soil.

Incorporating some good aged compost can help control nematodes because compost is loaded with bacteria and fungi that attack pathogens. Adding composted organic matter to the soil also helps create a large microbial soil population. As these microbes feed near plant roots they form a symbiotic relationship with the plant and create a barrier that makes nematode penetration less likely.

Sow or Pill bugs:
AKA: Doodlebugs, woodlice, woodlouse, rolypolys. Small terrestrial isopods having a convex segmented body that rolls up into a ball. Pill bugs are actually relatives of shrimp.

Pill bugs and sow bugs are different. Both pill bugs and sow bugs will inhabit the same area. They are difficult to tell apart. How can you tell? The pill bug can roll into a tight round ball and the sow bug can sort of "hump" up. It cannot form a "pill" like the pill bug can. Both bear young twice a year or more. They carry them until the young are able to keep up with the rest of the colony. The young may leave mother at times however it is not unusual for them to come back, allowing her to to take care of them for as long as she can. As food supplies dwindle, colonies will relocate and forage to nearby areas that fill their dietary needs. Most feeding is done during the night.

Sow bugs also have gills and need constant moisture to live. They tend to live in moister northwest climates. They are primarily nocturnal, and eat decaying leaf litter and vegetable matter. They sometimes feed on the tips of young plants, but they also help the environment by breaking up decaying plant matter and help speed up the recycling of the nutrients they contain.

  • Use corncobs as a bait to trap these intruders.
  • Remove their hiding places such as piles of plant material, boards/wood, bricks, large rocks, etc.
  • Reduce moisture or humidity level indoors. Use bathroom fans, stove hood vent fans, vent clothes dryers outside.
  • Crawl spaces and attics need to be well ventilated. Remove excess vegetation and debris around exterior perimeter of the home. Make sure that leaf debris (leaves hold moisture and hide the bugs) is cleaned up from around the outside of your house.
  • Keep rain gutters and downspouts clean and in good repair. Instead of chemicals, use a caulking gun to close any cracks or crevices at or near ground level.
  • Houses built on a concrete slab poured directly on the ground, can have more of a problem with sow bugs or pill bugs if there is no moisture barrier under the concrete. 
  • Built-in planters are usually a bad idea for many reasons. Window box planters and planter boxes on decks tight against the house are good breeding places for many bugs.
  • There is a spider about one-half inch long with a brown rear body and a reddish front body. It has prominent fangs, long front legs, and is timid as it usually runs for cover when disturbed or seen. It doesn't have a common name but they are everywhere and harmless to people. The scientific name is Dysdera crocata. This little fellow feeds almost exclusively on pill bugs. They live under objects on the ground like stones etc. where pill bugs live. The long fangs" are used for feeding on the pill bugs not you!
  • For Sow and Pillbugs we carry 1600 X-Clude and Diatomaceous Earth

Squash Bugs: (Anasa tristis)
For squash bugs we carry: Pyrethrum Spray

The nymph stage is a tear drop shaped crawling insect with a reddish colored head, greenish-yellow body and red legs when just hatched. Adult has a shape similar to a cockroach and is 5/8 inch long. The main body color is brown to black with some brown to orange marks around the edge of the abdomen. Eggs are laid on the undersides of leaves. They are elliptical in shape and have a shiny brown, red or yellow coloring. Eggs take 1-2 weeks to hatch. They hibernate as an adult in garden debris and go through one generation per season with the new generation mating the following season. The nymphs will take a whole season to reach adult hood, going through 5 stages of molting. When crushed or disturbed they give off a putrid odor. This same reaction is found with stink bugs which are often confused with squash bugs. 

Both the nymph and adult stage are very destructive and operate in the same manner. Seedlings and young plants are particularly vulnerable to the squash bug. Winter type squash, like Marrows or Hubbard are more at risk from the squash bugs than other cultivars. They have a sharp mouth that pierces plant tissue allowing the to suck the sap. If that is not bad enough they release a toxin at the same time while feeding that causes certain plants to wilt!

Predators: Tachnid fly. Praying mantids eat the eggs and nymphs.
Repellant Plants: Marigolds, borage, mint, tansy, nasturtiums and radishes.

  • A thorough fall garden clean up is essential to prevent them from overwintering.
  • Dust a combination of 50/50 wood ashes and hydrated lime in a shallow trench around host plants being careful not to get it on plant foliage. You want tomake the circular ash/lime barrier far enough from the base of the plant so it's leaves and stems do not contact the ashes. You may need to remove some leaves or give them support to get them off the ground to accomplish this. It depends on what method you use to grow your plants. Moisten it to keep it from blowing away. It will desiccate the bugs.
  • Here is an interesting method from one of our visitors: Kayla A., an organic grower from Nebraska. Kayla sprinkles imitation vanilla around susceptible plants and swears it keeps them away. Certainly worth a try. Thanks to Kayla for this!
  • Consider growing your plants on trellises which offers some protection.
  • Use old scraps of plywood or thin boards under which they will congregate making for easy capture.
  • Handpicking is effective though time consuming. Dump them into a bucket of soapy hot water.
  • Use compact mulches like sawdust which they do not like. Avoid plastic mulches as for some reason they seem to help increase populations.
  • As a last resort you can spray with rotenone or dust with sabadilla.
  • Use insecticidal soap mixed with isopropyl alcohol.

For thrips we carry:
Diatomaceous Earth, Insect Soap, Pyrethrum Spray, Spinosad and Blue Sticky Traps

Thrips are tiny being all of 1/25 of an inch in length. They are thin and can be black or straw-colored. Generally you are not going to see them. They especially like light colored flowers like white, yellow, pastels etc. They don't just damage ornamentals- they can go for tomatoes, which they can infect with spotted wilt, beans, corn, pear and squash. What you look for is symptoms on your flowers and foliage that show up as dry, white tissue. This damage is from the thrips feeding on them, sucking out the plant juices. To further detect thrips shake the damaged flower over some white paper- if thrips are present you will see their small brown fecal pellets. There are many generations of thrips per season, up to 5-8 and it takes only 2 weeks to complete a generation. Adults and nymphs both damage plants. They first start their feeding in the early summer.

Predators: Ladybugs and green lacewings, both the larvae and adults will feast on thrips. Good guy nematodes that naturally live in the soil will mine into thrips, reproducing there and releasing a bacteria that kills them.

  • Keep your plants properly watered and mist them if you can, thrips hate moisture.
  • A sulfur dust can control them.
  • Spray plants with neem oil in the morning 2 times 3 days apart.
  • To foil thrips: flatten a square of aluminum foil around the base of plants to bounce light on the undersides of leaves. This also helps the plants in giving them more light.
  • Spray with a forceful jet of water in the early morning for 3 consecutive days.
  • Try garlic or onion sprays.
  • If you can apply a thick organic mulch in the very early spring it will help to prevent the adults from emerging
  • Thrips are attracted to flowers which are light in color- yellow, white, pastels etc.
  • Spray with insecticidal soap every 3 days diligently for 2 weeks.
  • A pyrethrum/rotenone spray will nail thrips as a last resort.
  • For fall control/prevention cultivate the soil around your plants to a depth of 2 inches and do it once again in the following spring.
  • Destroy infected flowers and buds but don't compost them. Throw them out.

Ticks and Fleas:
For ticks and fleas we have Neem Protect Spray for People and Pets, Neem Protect™ Shampoo, Diatomaceous Earth, Pyrethrum Spray

Fleas can carry or transmit bacterial organisms responsible for bubonic plague. They also serve as a host for the dog tapeworm, which can live in dogs, cats or humans.

Fleas and ticks are a serious problem in many areas of the country. You can help your pets avoid them with the following methods.

You can add brewer's yeast or nutritional yeast, fresh garlic or flaxseed oil to pet food for skin health and as a flea repellent.

Use herb-based flea collars that contain combinations of various herbs that repel fleas, such as lavender, mint, rosemary, sweet woodruff and cedar.

Liquid Rotenone and Pyrethrum sprays can also be used to kill lice, fleas and ticks on premises.

Bathe pets with gentle Neem Oil shampoos. Even soap and water will kill fleas if the soap is left on from five to eight minutes.

Inspect your free-roaming pets regularly for ticks. Search particularly around the ears and toes. Remove embedded ticks with tweezers by pulling gently without twisting. Be careful not to break off the tick's mouthparts that are embedded in the animal.

Clean wounds made by ticks with soap and water, then apply an antiseptic.

Comb or remove ticks elsewhere on the pet's body.

Indoors, designate specific sleeping areas for dogs to reduce the size of the dog-tick infestation.

Vacuum and use absorptive dusts( diatomaceous earth, silica gel) in cracks, then caulk the cracks.

Outdoors, use a tick drag or carbon dioxide trap to locate the ticks and reduce their numbers.

Remove woodpiles and other areas where mice may live and keep bird feeders away from the house. Keep vegetation cut below ankle level to reduce tick harborage.

Do a tick drag: A tick drag is a 4' by 6' piece of white flannel attached to a stick. You drag the flannel through the yard. Any ticks in the vegetation will attach themselves to the flannel where they can be seen and destroyed.

C02 Trap: A carbon dioxide trap is simply a covered ice bucket or styrofoam container with several holes in the sides near the bottom. Place approximately 2 lbs. of dry ice in the bucket and place the bucket on a piece of white flannel or a piece of plywood with a masking tape barrier. The tape should be stapled to the plywood around the edges with the sticky side up. If you use flannel, inspect both sides for one to three hours after trapping begins. The dry ice should last about three hours and attract every tick with a 75 sq. ft. area around the trap.

Tomato Hornworms:  
For hornworms we carry: Diatomaceous Earth, Thuricide BTK, Insect Soap, Pyrethrum Spray, Spinosad

Those huge destructive monsters that destroy your tomatoes, dill, eggplant, potato and peppers will turn into the hummingbird or sphinx moth. Every grower knows these critters and how incredibly hard they are to find until they have left a trail of defoliated stems! Look for greenish-yellow eggs that are laid singly on the undersides of leaves. One generation in the north and two in the South.

Predators: Ladybugs and lacewings and ladybugs will eat the eggs. So will trichogramma and braconid wasps.

  • Directly spray them with insecticidal soap.
  • Spray your plants with a tea made from petunia leaves.
  • Dill and borage can serve as trap crops. Hornworms really love dill and they will be much easier to spot and destroy! We don't recommend spraying the dill with BT as the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars love dill too. We don't want to harm them- even their caterpillars are pretty.
  • Opal basil and marigolds may repel hornworms.
  • Pop goes the hornworm. Sprinkle cornmeal around plants. They cannot digest it and explode.
  • If you can find the Peron tomato it is said to be immune to hornworms!
  • Use Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) to treat the plants. It will kill them rather quickly.
  • If you see hornworms with white pouches protruding from their backs- don't kill them. They have been nailed by parasitic wasps which will hatch from the pouches. Their larva will kill the worms and the resulting adults will add to your natural arsenal!

Ugh...Slugs!!! Clicking on Ugh...Slugs!!! will take you to the slug page.

For weevils we carry: 1600 X-Clude, Diatomaceous Earth

Whiteflies: Clicking on whiteflies will take you to another page.

The adult form of wireworms is known as the "Click beetle." If they are placed on their backs they will vault themselves into the air with a clicking sound. Their cycle takes a whopping 3 years! Two of these years are passed as the larva or wireworm phase.

  • Growing flax (Linum species) as a covercrop will kill wireworms. Treat as you would any covercrop. Flax also helps control root knot nematodes.
  • Growing white mustard, woad or buckwheat as a covercrop will make a significant reduction in the wireworm population.
  • Try putting the juice from milkweeds plants on the soil around infested plants, this supposedly will repel them.
  • Punch holes in both sides and bottom of a tall can like a tomato juice can. Bury the can upright in the garden border. Fill it with carrot or potato peelings. Empty the can weekly and reset your trap.
  • Use cut up chunks of potatoes to trap them. Make the pieces big and impale them on a stick. Bury them at a depth of 1-4 inches in the ground and 4-8 inches apart with your stick serving as a handle to pull them out with. Leave them in the soil for 2-4 days. Pull them out and discard. This works quite well in strawberry patches.

  Last Update: 02/24/15

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