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Insect Pest Prevention

Dealing with insect pests and plant diseases is easy using natural organic programs and controls, especially if the plants have been selected and planted properly in healthy soil. When plants are stress-free, they have very few pest issues. 

On the other hand, proactive work can make having to deal with pests rare. There are two beneficials that everyone, at least every gardener, should release as the foliage emerges in spring - trichogramma wasps and beneficial nematodes. The microscopic wasps will control caterpillars and the nematodes will control a host of pest insects that have at least one of their life cycles in the ground.

Another thing I recommend to all gardeners is to grind some bay leaves and mix some in around new transplants. If you don’t have any bay plants (Laurus nobilis), plant some right away. It's a much hardier plant than others would have you believe - especially under an organic program.

This is a release card for trichogramma wasps 

Trichogramma wasps

Trichogramma wasps are released as a preventative for the control of canker worms, greenworms, loopers, armyworms, pecan casebearers, tent caterpillars, webworms and other worms that are basically the larva of moths. They must be released before the pests hatch and start eating by simply pining the cards or strips on tree trunks or fences or use twist ties. The almost microscopic wasps emerge from the sandpaper looking moth eggs and fly off to parasitize and destroy pest eggs.

If the tiny wasps are dead or have been eaten by fire ants, they won’t work. Vaseline on the nail or pin used to mount the cards or strips will prevent any existing fire ants from getting to the eggs. Dry molasses applied to the entire site at 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. usually runs all the fire ants off the property. 

Beneficial nematodes control pests that have at least one of their life-cycles in the ground

Beneficial nematodes

Beneficial nematodes control insect pests by entering through the mouth or body openings; once inside the host, they feed, reproduce and release other organisms until the pest is dead. New nematodes emerge in search of other victims. An early application prior to heavy pest infestations, followed by monthly applications, is the ideal schedule when pest infestations have been a problem in the past. Once balance is reached, no more releases are necessary.

Beneficial nematodes can be stored for short periods of time at 42°F in the refrigerator. They control armyworms, cabbage loopers, Colorado potato beetles, corn earworms, rootworms, cutworms, grubs, fleas, ticks and other pests that have at least one of their life cycles in the ground.

Bud break and leaf emergence is right around the corner, so check with your local garden center, farm store or on-line insectary to get your order planned. See the list of recommended insectaries on 

Beneficial nematodes arrive in packets and can be stored for short periods of time at 42 F in the refrigerator 


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