Insects in the garden are inevitable. Getting rid of them entirely can be dangerous and is nearly impossible to accomplish. The best way to control garden pests is to protect your plants and use cultural, physical, and biologic tools before resorting to harsh chemicals.
Managing your garden can seem like a balancing act, but once you identify the problem you can use the same techniques year to year to ensure a healthy and organic growth in your garden plants and vegetables.
Cultural pest prevention is about creating a system that prevents the problem naturally. For example, if you have grasshoppers, plant marigolds or sunflowers nearby which attract flies and attack grasshoppers. If you have cabbage loopers, consider not growing cabbage for a season. Another popular cultural control is floating row covers, which can prevent a variety of pests from getting inside the plants.
This is about physically removing the pests from your plants. Always wear gloves before removing bugs from the plants. Look for webs, nests, or hives that may be housing the insects and remove them from the property completely. Toss beetles and similar bugs in a bucket of soapy water.
Get biology on your side and use good bug predators against specific type of insects. Nematodes can be great for your soil and may eliminate a grub problem. You can also use biologic repellants and sprays that insects naturally avoid. For example, if you have an aphid or flea beetles problem, try a hot-pepper or garlic repellent spray. For Colorado beetles, try a neem oil spray.
Insecticides are effective, but they can harm your plants and your family if not used correctly. If the other controls are not working, you can use chemical treatment containing carbaryl or permethrin to actually eliminate the problem all together. Be sure to protects yourself as well as your children and pets any time you spray chemicals.
Finally, remember that all bugs are not created equal. Many bugs are actually beneficial to your garden. Bees, lady beetles, green lacewings, and praying mantis are all helper bugs, so don’t just kill a bug just because it’s a bug, it might actually be your greatest ally.