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Beneficial Insects

Beneficial Insects

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Creating an environment hostile to pests includes enlisting the help of beneficial insects.  These insects keep undesirable pest populations in check through their feeding, as either predators or parasites.  Both the adult and immature stages of predators actively search out and consume prey.  Parasites help by depositing eggs in or on the host.  When they hatch, the host becomes their food source. What can you do to encourage helpful insects? …

Identifying Clues

Visible Clues to Insects

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Knowing your local pests and their life cycles is the key to determining whether lawn damage is due to insects.  The rest is a matter of keeping your eyes open.  Most insects are large enough to be visible, so do not wait for your grass to start dying to find out there is a problem. The presence of sod webworms may become apparent one evening, when you see their adult…

Testing for insects

Testing for Insects

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In addition to the time-honored method of parting the grass and looking around, the following techniques will expose damaging insects in your lawn. Soap Drench: Use to flush out sod webworms, armyworms, mole crickets, and caterpillars.  Mix 5- to 6-tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a 2-gallon sprinkling can full of water, and drench 4-square feet of lawn with the solution.  Observe the area for three minutes, counting the number of…

Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal Soaps

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Made from the potassium salts of fatty acids, insecticidal soaps cause desiccation and death on direct contact with susceptible insects.  The acids disrupt the structure and permeability of their cell membranes.  Most effective on soft-bodied insects, including beneficial insects, these soaps have a minimum impact on ladybug larvae and parasitic wasps.  Aside from causing mild eye and skin irritation, they have low mammalian toxicity and are biodegradable.  Once dry, however,…

Golden pheasant

Dust, Not Just for the Birds!

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The birds reveling in the backyard dust know what they are doing.  Finely ground particles in such dust baths damage the exoskeletons of bothersome insects.  Diatomaceous earth, a dust used to control caterpillars, works on the same principle.  Composed of fossilized remains of single-celled plants called diatoms, a dust is formed by quarrying and processing these ancient deposits. This material does not bother people and animals, but it destroys the…