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Sleuthing Bugs in Hard-to-See Places

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Looking for insect eggs under leaves? Use a mirror! Source:,, &, montage:

Tired of getting down on your knees to check for insects under your plants’ leaves? Or your knees just can’t take the strain anymore? And, of course, you know you should be checking: after all, that’s often where they hide their eggs! Well, there’s an easy way out: use an inspection mirror.

You’ve certainly seen one on TV or in a movie: police and customs officers seem to use them to check for materials hidden under a car. Well, you can do the same, except you’ll be looking for insects and their eggs and larvae hidden under leaves.

Inspecton mirror. Source:

You can easily find such a mirror in a police or tactical supply store or on-line. If you’re looking for sophistication, you can even find telescoping ones or lighted models. Or make one yourself by taping a small mirror to a long stick.

Next time you’re strolling in your garden, bring your inspection mirror along and give those leaf undersides a thorough checkout. You probably already know which plants you should be checking: those well-known for having pests that hide out under leaves, like lilies and cabbages. Look especially closely for egg cases, often small but in bright or at least contrasting colors. Just knock any you find into soapy water or onto the ground where you can scrunch them with the tip of your shoe.

Who knows what your neighbors will think, though, when they see you searching about in your garden with a mirror on a stick … but do you really care?

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.

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