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.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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

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  4. 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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