Manage Yard Pests Responsibly

The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook states,

“ Due to concerns about health, the environment, and pesticide resistance , pest control practices once taken for granted are now under scrutiny. Regular preventive pesticide applications are still common for some pests but are often unnecessary. Healthy plants can usually defend against or tolerate pest attacks, while beneficial insects, birds and other natural controls often suppress undesirable insects — which makes the preventive and indiscriminate use of pesticides ill-advised.

“A better approach to managing pests — Integrated Pest Management (IPM) — emphasizes using a combination of environmentally friendly methods that focus on preventing pest problems.”

Integrated Pest Management is a “sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.”

What are the basic building blocks of IPM?

  • IPM begins at planting time, with pest-free and pest-resistant plants and a landscape design that encourages natural controls.
  • Keeping your plants healthy is the best defense against pests.
  • Regular scouting, or keeping an eye on your yard’s plants, helps detect pest problems early, before significant damage occurs.
  • Plants with aesthetic damage don’t necessarily need to be treated.
  • Consider the amount of aesthetic damage you are willing to accept.
  • If you see a pest outbreak, determine if a problem really exists or if natural enemies are already present and are working on your behalf.
  • If pest control proves necessary, try the safest alternatives first, such as handpicking insects or pruning infected parts of a plant. If pesticides become necessary, choose the least harmful materials. The “softest” insecticides on beneficials and other non-target organisms (people, pets and wildlife) include insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, and microbials (e.g., spinosad, abamectin, Bacillus thuringiensis ‘Kurstaki’).
  • Use pesticides only to spot-treat affected plants or lawn, not in blanket applications.”

yellow rose with lady bugs
Extension is promoting integrated pest management (IPM), which includes the use of beneficial insects to reduce the need for pesticides on crops and ornaments- Photo by Thomas Wright

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