Pest Management - Pest Control Strategies


Many insects can be removed by hand. This method is preferable if a few, large insects are causing the problem. Simply remove the insect from the plant and drop it into a container of soapy water or vegetable oil. Caution: Some insects have spines or excrete oily substances that can cause injury to humans. Use caution when handling unfamiliar insects. Wear gloves or remove insects with tweezers.

Many insects can be removed from plants by spraying water from a hose or sprayer. Small vacuums can be used to suck up insects. Traps can be used effectively for some insects. These come in a variety of styles depending on the insect to be caught. Many traps rely on the use of pheromones - naturally occurring chemicals produced by the insects and used to attract the opposite sex during mating. They are extremely specific for each species and, therefore, will not harm beneficial species. One caution with traps is that they may actually draw more insects into your yard. You should not place them directly in the garden. Other traps are more generic and will attract numerous species. These include such things as yellow and blue sticky cards. Different insects are attracted to different colors. Sticky cards also can be used effectively to monitor insect pests.


Hoeing, pulling, and mulching are the most effective physical control methods for weeds. Weeding is most important while plants are small. Well established plants often can tolerate competition from weeds.


Removal of diseased material limits the spread of some diseases. Clean up litter dropped from diseased plants. Prune diseased branches on trees and shrubs. When pruning diseased trees and shrubs, disinfect your pruners between cuts with a solution of chlorine bleach to avoid spreading the disease from plant to plant. Control insects known to spread plant diseases.

Other Pests

Fences, netting, and tree trunk guards can be extremely successful in limiting damage from small mammals and birds. Numerous traps are also available to catch or kill some animals. Caution: In many states it is illegal to move wildlife, including squirrels. Traps may also catch animals other than the ones targeted. Check local regulations before trapping.

Diatomaceous earth, a powder-like dust made of tiny marine organisms called diatoms, can be used to reduce damage from soft-bodied insects and slugs. Spread this material on the soil - it is sharp and cuts or irritates these soft organisms. It is harmless to other organisms. Shallow dishes of beer can be used to trap slugs.

Courtesy of the USDA.