Insects in Plants or Landscaping

Problem: Insects are found on plants, in gardens, or in landscaping.

Background: Many chemicals are available for controlling the insects that infest outdoor areas around the home. The following suggestions are alternative, no chemical methods of preventing or reducing many Of these pests. If the suggestions don’t seem to be effective, contact your local extension service office or an experienced nursery person.

What to do: For aphids, remove by dislodging with water spray and spraying with Safer soap solution. Preserve natural predators by protecting ladybugs and lacewings in their immature stage. Plant resistant varieties of honeysuckle which deter witches’ broom aphids. For apple maggots, remove fallen apples. For a standard-sized tree, hang 8 sticky apple traps, or make them using 3-inch diameter spheres painted bright red or black and coated with a sticky substance such as Tanglefoot or Stickem Special (available in gar den centers).
For cabbage looper and imported cabbage worm, remove caterpillars by hand. Apply Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural material available under a variety of product names. For Colorado potato beetle, remove immature- and adult-stage insects by hand. Apply san diego Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural material. The san diego variety is specifically for beetle adults and is available under the name M-ONE. For cut- worms, place cardboard collars around the transplants, making sure the cardboard extends at least 2 inches above and below the ground (the center core from paper towels works well). Remove cutworms by hand that are hiding in burrows near plants during the day, and those found above ground at night. For European corn borer and corn earworm, apply Bacillus thuringiensis.
For flea beetles, control weeds. For hornworms, handpick caterpillars and apply Bacillus thuringiensis. For iris borer, remove old stalks and plant debris in late summer. Remove and destroy infested plants. For picnic, sap, and fungus beetles, re move damaged and overripe fruit and vegetables. Regularly harvest crops as they ripen. Remove rose chafers by hand. Place a cheesecloth barrier around plants as protection during the chafer’s flight period in early summer. For squash vine borer, slit the plant’s stem length wise at the point of attack, remove larvae from vines by hand and cover vines with moist soil to encourage new growth.

Special advice: Don’t bring infested plants into the home. For plants in the home, remove caterpillars, slugs and other pests by hand; for spider mites, wash leaves with a mild detergent solution, swab with rubbing alcohol, or spray with Safers soap solution; for scales and mealy bugs, remove with rubbing alcohol or spray with Safers soap solution; for aphids, spray plants with a Safers soap solution; for fungus gnats and springtails, allow soil to dry to a depth of 1 inch before watering; re pot plants affected by millipedes.

Helpful hint: For slugs outdoors, control soil moisture by watering only when necessary; remove by hand. Remove dead leaves and other potential hiding places. Cups filled with beer sunk in the ground will attract and drown slugs. Place boards and shingles on the ground, and remove any slugs attracted to such areas.

Insects Inside Home

Problem: Insects are causing problems within the home.

Background: A long list of chemicals is available for controlling in sects that invade the home. However, with the growing concern for the environment and the move away from chemicals, the following are alternative, no chemical methods of pre venting or treating household pests.
In most all cases, it’s helpful to re pair or seal cracks, holes, and other potential points of entry around the home, including foundation, walls, and screens. If the suggestions below don’t seem to work, contact your local extension service office or an experienced nursery person.

What to do: For ants, use a bait made of 2 parts boric acid in 98 parts food attractant. Select the food attractant by offering ants various materials, such as grease, jelly or peanut butter, and choose the material most frequently selected. For carpenter ants, repair moisture-damaged wood. Do not store fire wood on the ground, especially near the home. Also keep stored lumber dry. For carpet beetles and clothes moths, dry clean or launder clothing before storing. Freeze, dry clean or iron infested articles of clothing. Use mothballs when storing susceptible clothing.
For centipedes, eliminate their prey, which is primarily sow bugs. Dry damp areas with a fan or dehumidifier. When found in the home, eliminate with a broom or swatter. For clover mites, wipe them up with a damp cloth; they are generally found around windows. Keep 18 inches to 24 inches of soil bordering the home’s foundation loose and free of grass.
For crickets, keep the lawn well mowed and maintain a weed-free area around the home. If using outdoor lights near the home, use a non-attracting yellow light. For fleas, keep pets and pet living areas clean; thoroughly vacuum infested rooms (see Fleas Inside Home).
For flies, keep kitchen and other household areas clean. Pour boiling water down drains to eliminate drain-infesting flies. Store garbage in tightly covered receptacles. For ground beetles, keep firewood and debris away from the home. When found in the home, remove by hand or by vacuum. For sow bugs, reduce moisture through dehumidification. Remove decaying vegetation, such as lawn clippings or fallen leaves, from around the foundation. For spiders, keep household areas clean. Eliminate their hiding places and prey (such as sow bugs). When found in the home, kill them using a broom or swatter.

Special advice: For pantry insects, dispose of infested food products. Store uninfested food in tightly sealed glass, metal, or plastic containers. Clean shelves thoroughly, removing crumbs and debris from cracks and crevices. Treat foods more than 60 days old: Foods such as cake mixes and spices in original containers can be cold-treated by ex posing them to 0°F (in a freezer) or lower temperatures for 3 to 7 days, depending on the size of package. Dried fruits can be heat-treated by placing them in a cheesecloth bag and dipping them in boiling water for about 6 seconds.

Helpful hint: For boxelder bugs, try spraying clustered insects on your home or other buildings with a solution of ½ cup laundry detergent to 1 gallon of water. (Test on an inconspicuous area because detergents discolor some siding.) Vacuum bugs found in the home (properly disposing of the used vacuum bag) or re move them by hand.