Sarah Browning: Battling bugs in organic gardens | Home & Garden
• Handpicking is effective against Japanese beetles, Colorado potato beetles, tomato hornworms and other large insects. Crush them or drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
• Some trapping methods do work, such as the use of flat boards or shingles placed on the ground near plants to attract slugs and snails. They can be collected and destroyed.
• Syringing the undersides of foliage with a strong jet of water daily for 7-10 days can help reduce spider mite infestations.
Before using any pesticide, start by accurately identifying the insect or disease problem. Gardeners can submit pictures of plant problems to Nebraska Extension experts through our Digital Diagnostic Network, https://digitaldiagnostics.unl.edu/.
Below are a few products useful in either disease or insect control that may be acceptable to organic gardeners. However, these products typically suppress a pest problem rather than eliminate it. And while they are less damaging to beneficial insects, that does not mean no damage. Always make sure any product purchased is labeled for use in the vegetable garden and follow all directions on waiting periods after application before harvesting again.
• Bacillus thuringiensis: commonly referred to as B.T. and marketed under the trades names Dipel, Thuricide and others. Consists of spores from a soil-inhabiting bacteria that kills the larvae of moths and butterflies, such as armyworm, cabbage loopers, cutworms, corn earworm and tomato hornworm. Will also kill desirable butterfly and moth larva, so apply carefully.