are generally just not good. They kill beneficial bugs
as well as bad bugs, and adversely impact our
environment, especially bee and butterfly populations,
according to experts.
of the United States, including here in Virginia, is
experiencing dramatic losses in honey bees, according to
a news release from the Virginia Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services. Nationally, over last
winter (between October 2013 and April 2014), 23.2
percent of managed honey bee colonies died, according to
the 8th annual national survey of honey bee colony
losses conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership.
believe that those losses are likely caused by a
combination of multiple stressors, including poor bee
nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens
and exposure to pesticides," says Jeffrey Rogers,
environmental program planner with the Virginia
Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
farming parts of the country, weed-controlling chemicals
are eradicating much of the native milkweed that monarch
butterfly caterpillars rely on. Homeowners, with the
help of Monarch Watch at www.monarchwatch.org
, are doing their best to help monarchs by planting
milkweed in backyard habitats. This year’s milkweed
efforts look promising, according to recent reports
about increased numbers of monarchs showing up in late
1990, Virginia has taken steps to reduce the use and
abuse of pesticides — the generic term for
insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides
— by sponsoring state collections and dispensing
educational information on the prudent use of garden
chemicals. Since its inception, Virginia’s Pesticide
Disposal Program has collected and destroyed more than
1.2 million pounds of outdated and unwanted pesticides,
according to a news release.
you feel compelled to use a pesticide, follow the
instructions for use, cautions Rogers. The pesticide
label is the law, he stresses. Failure to follow the
directions could constitute violations of the Federal
Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, which is the
federal pesticide law, as well as the Virginia Pesticide
Control Act. Both the federal and Virginia pesticide
laws provide for civil or criminal penalties for
are the risks of not reading and following the label?
Using the wrong formula can cause personal injury or
environmental contamination, but also possibly result in
restrictions on the use of a chemical, cautions Rogers.
For example, he says, in 2013, an estimated 50,000
bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville, Ore., after a
commercial pesticide applicator treated blooming linden
trees with an insecticide in an effort to control
aphids. That incident prompted Oregon officials to
prohibit the use of certain insecticides.
more recent incidents of large bee deaths also in Oregon
prompted officials in that state to prohibit the
application of certain products to linden, basswood and
other trees of Tilia species, he adds.
using pesticides according to the label, pest control
professionals and homeowners can reduce the potential
for a similar incident occurring," he says.
the home and yard, pests can include anything and
everything from aphids and squash bugs to flies and
mosquitoes — spiders and stink bugs, too. Before you
grab a container of powerful pesticide, consider
alternative ways of dealing with them.
oils work well on soft-bodied pests, and do not pose
problems to bees unless they are sprayed directly on
them, according to local beekeepers. Weeds can easily be
hand pulled in the yard and garden, or vinegar- and
salt-mixed-with water sprays used on them.
bothersome stink bugs and beneficial ladybugs can be
vacuumed up and deposited outdoors.
Virginia’s King and Queen County, Karen Hinson Mumaw
uses a diluted spray mixture of Dawn dish liquid on
is the first year my harvest wasn’t ruined by squash
beetles," she writes through my Facebook page.
must be used as a preventative, though. Once you see the
little buggers, it’s usually too late. You must keep
up with it — spray about once a week as soon as the
plants get large leaves."
Yorktown, Va., the mosquito control division promotes
mosquito-repellent gardening, targeting small areas,
such as patios.
encouraging people to add plants — lavender, basil,
bee balm — that have been shown to repel
mosquitoes," says Leah Aguilar, operations
superintendent. A full list with descriptions and tips
is found at www.yorkcounty.gov/mosquitocontrol
winter, we are going to try to make some sample mosquito
repellents from these plants so that we can teach the
citizens how to do this if they want.," she said.
"Additionally, we are studying Native American
ethno botany to see how plants were used historically
and how we may be able to incorporate that into our
STORY CAN END HERE)
Pest Management tips
is a holistic approach to pest management, with chemical
controls being one of the many tools available, says Dan
Nortman, Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in
an IPM approach, you monitor your yard for pests, ID
them, and make sure that they are truly a pest of
concern," he says. "If they are a pest of
concern, then you should find alternative controls,
using pesticides as a last resort."
and tips for pesticides, he says, include:
is not always better. When using concentrates, do not
add more to the dilution to "get a better
kill." There’s a reason for the recommended
rates, and disobeying them is not only a violation of
federal law, but can have unintended consequences for
you, your family, plants in your yard and the
label directions for timing. Some pest biology is very
complex, and when and where to spray is very important.
The label often gives timing for some pests, but if you
have additional questions, call your local extension
sure you ID your pests.
good sanitation. Pick bad bugs off plants when you see
them, use proper pruning techniques, clean up diseased
leaves, and control weeds before they go to seed
insect pests in particular, look for bio control. Many
pests are controlled by naturally occurring predators,
so look for good guys before you spray.
attention to the active ingredients in the pesticides
you use. Many products from different companies have the
same or similar active ingredients; if a pesticide doesn’t
work for you, instead of buying another product, look
for another active ingredient.
you buy pesticides, buy only what you need. It’s
easier to go to the store and get more than it is to
properly store or dispose of old pesticides.
is key! Having different plants makes the impact less if
one plant species is killed by insect or disease. An
example would be when building a screen. Relying on one
plant for a screen between yards sets yourself up for
disappointment when that plant fails and you lose your
entire screen in a few seasons. Plant diversity also
brings in good insects, and reduces the ability of
certain pests to build up over time.