Tips to keep pests away from plants

By Tom Dominguez

If you don’t like bugs, weeds and other pests taking over your yard, follow these quick tips to a happier and healthier landscape.

Pick the right plant
The one most important decision you will ever make is to select plants that are well adapted to the area. Some plants have more pests than others and require more maintenance then others.
By selecting plants that have fewer pests and those that will tolerate some pest pressure, you can get by with fewer to no pest treatments. Find recommended plant lists from your local Extension office or selected Web sites.

Space is space
Accept the fact that the landscape is a big world and there are many organisms in that space, some good and some bad.
Make sure to identify the pest as harmful or beneficial and if in fact control is necessary. Most pests that look harmful are beneficial.
Some pests like aphids, leafhoppers, and a few weeds in the lawn can and should be tolerated because they don’t escalate into serious problems. You can never get 100% rid of your problem. You should only aim to minimize damage or pests.
Alternative Methods of Management: There are several methods of controlling infestations without using pesticides. Practices that include the use of row covers on vegetables to screen out insects or hand picking tomato horn worms off tomato plants.
A small section of board can be placed at the base of squash plants which makes a great place for adult squash bugs to accumulate at night.
This board can be collected the next morning and the adults can be scraped off in a bucket of soapy water. You can also use silver or light colored mulches to reflect light into the canopy of tomato and other vegetable plants to reduce the feeding of insects that carry harmful plant diseases.
Insecticide soaps, lightweight plant oils, Neem oil, wettable sulfur, Bacillus thringiensis (Bt) as well as many other products are available to reduce pests. All of these products do not have any harmful effect on the environment or plants.

Target treatments
If you feel it is imperative to treat with pesticides use target treatments when possible. This means treat the specified area or problem plant. This reduces the amount of chemical used and saves from affecting beneficial insect population. Not to mention cheaper.
User and environmentally friendly pesticides
There are several products that now have very little to no effect or residual on the environment.
Many are even labeled for organic methods. There are many that can be mixed and poured for root uptake, spikes, spray-ons, and granules.
What ever you use read the label and use accordingly.

Pecan Seminar
Don’t forget the upcoming Pecan Seminar is at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Mesalands Community College Building A Great Room. Experts on many aspects, from growing to marketing, of the pecan industry will be there to answer your questions.

Tom Dominguez is an agent with the Quay County Extension, NMSU, Extension Service. He can be reached at tdomingu@nmsu.edu or by calling 461-0562.