Gardening Harmful insects Pesticides

Hand-Picking Pests: Often the Easiest Solution

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Hand-picking: fast results, no toxic pesticide required! Source: Claire Tourigny, from the book Les 1500 Trucs du jardinier paresseux

When there are hundreds of insects attacking a plant at the same time, using some sort of insecticidal spray may well be necessary. But if the damage is caused by a small number of insects, hand picking the culprits can be as effective and as fast … in fact, it’s usually faster.

For example, many butterflies only lay a single egg per plant, so the caterpillar you see chomping on a leaf is actually all alone. If so, why spray? Just knock it to the ground and crush it. Or hand pick it and squish it between your thumb and finger (yes, you’re allowed to wear garden gloves!). If you’re a bit squeamish, drop the intruder into a bucket of soapy water.

No potentially toxic pesticide is needed, so you can rightfully feel the impact on the environment is minimal.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

3 comments on “Hand-Picking Pests: Often the Easiest Solution

  1. Martha Kantorczyk

    Maybe you could have used a better example of a pest? I don’t think we should be squishing butterfly
    caterpillars at all.

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