Organic Pest Control: What Works, What Doesn’t

Our nationwide reader survey reveals the best methods for managing common garden pests.

| June/July 2011

  • Tomato Hornworm
    The tomato hornworm, a thorn in the side of many tomato growers, claimed the No. 7 spot in our list of the 12 worst garden pests.
    ILLUSTRATION: KEITH WARD
  • Garden Slug
    In our nationwide pest control survey, slugs took top honors as the most bothersome pest.
    KEITH WARD
  • Squash Bugs
    Squash bugs took the No. 2 spot in our ranking of pesky pests.
    KEITH WARD
  • Aphids
    Aphids, the No. 3 ranked pest, were a problem for 50 percent of our survey respondents.
    KEITH WARD
  • Cabbageworm Moth
    The fourth-ranked garden pest, cabbageworms attack brassicas with a vengeance. If you see these white butterflies in your garden, protect your crops before the moths lay their eggs.
    KEITH WARD
  • Squash Vine Borer
    Many gardeners use crop rotation and grow resistant varieties to protect their crops form squash vine borers, the fifth worst garden pest.
    KEITH WARD
  • Japanese Beetle
    Forty-six percent of our survey respondents reported battling Japanese beetles in their gardens.
    KEITH WARD
  • Cutworm
    An amazingly high percentage of gardeners reported getting good control of cutworms by using rigid collars around their plants.
    KEITH WARD
  • Cucumber Beetle
    Take care to protect your cool, crunchy cukes from cucumber beetles, the No. 10 worst pest in home gardens.
    KEITH WARD
  • Coran Earworm
    If you see dark spots on the end of your corn ears, you may have a corn earworm problem.
    KEITH WARD
  • Grasshopper
    If you see grasshoppers — the No. 9 worst pest — hopping through your garden, you’d better hop to it with your control strategies!
    KEITH WARD
  • Whitefly
    The whitefly flies in at No. 12, rounding out our worst garden pests list.
    KEITH WARD

  • Tomato Hornworm
  • Garden Slug
  • Squash Bugs
  • Aphids
  • Cabbageworm Moth
  • Squash Vine Borer
  • Japanese Beetle
  • Cutworm
  • Cucumber Beetle
  • Coran Earworm
  • Grasshopper
  • Whitefly

Last fall, MOTHER EARTH NEWS launched our Organic Pest Control Survey to learn more about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to limiting insect damage in organic vegetable gardens. About 1,300 gardeners from across North America responded, providing new, region-specific insight into organic pest control.

Our survey had strengths and weaknesses. It included opportunities for open comments, which became the source for the practical tips in this article. But, although we asked many questions about specific methods, we failed to always list chickens and ducks, which we learned many gardeners regard as essential players in controlling Japanese beetles and other garden pests.

We were surprised by some of the results. For example, we suspected gardeners would report that coping with various root maggots was a challenge, but 90 percent of respondents reported getting good control with crop rotation. Similarly, flea beetles didn’t make the list of worst pests because most gardeners achieve good control by using row covers and growing susceptible greens in fall rather than spring.

Ultimately, the survey revealed 12 widespread garden pests that give gardeners grief. Here are the nitty-gritty details, including down-in-the-dirt advice on how to manage each pest, plus details on which pests are the worst in each region. (To see illustrations of each of the worst pests, check out the Image Gallery.)



1. Slugs took top honors as the most bothersome pest in home gardens, with 55 percent of respondents saying the slimy critters give them trouble year after year. Handpicking was highly rated as a control measure (87 percent success rate), followed by iron phosphate baits (86 percent) and diatomaceous earth (84 percent). Opinion was divided on eggshell barriers (crushed eggshells sprinkled around plants), with a 33 percent failure rate among gardeners who had tried that slug control method. An easy home remedy that received widespread support was beer traps (80 percent success rate).

Relying on bigger predators — such as chickens, garter snakes and ducks — appears to be the most dependable way to achieve long-term control of garden slugs, as well as several types of beetles, cutworms and many other pests. Ducks are reportedly sharp slug-spotters, whether you let them work over the garden in spring and fall, or enlist a pair to serve as your personal pest control assistants throughout the season.

robert
8/7/2017 2:32:11 PM

We started gardening and we were gone wrong. We could not figure out why we were not getting the beautiful vegetables we were hoping for. People suggest to spray chemicals for vegetables and fruits but it is poison and it is not organic vegetables. My lab professor referred a guide it helps me to grow my gardening as what we like, get the guide from here >> ( http://go2l.ink/gardening ) <<. I have recommended this system to all of my friends and family. We got good organic natural vegetables and fruits in the next harvest, one of the beautiful products in the market.**.*


robert
8/7/2017 2:31:29 PM

We started gardening and we were gone wrong. We could not figure out why we were not getting the beautiful vegetables we were hoping for. People suggest to spray chemicals for vegetables and fruits but it is poison and it is not organic vegetables. My lab professor referred a guide it helps me to grow my gardening as what we like, you can get the guide from here >> ( http://go2l.ink/gardening I have recommended this system to all of my friends and family. We got good organic natural vegetables and fruits in the next harvest, one of the beautiful products in the market...*.


thomasrodarte
8/5/2017 4:40:16 AM

Thanks for sharing this post!







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