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Skaggs: Pesticides aren’t the only line of defense

POSTED: March 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The recent warm days have resulted in an outbreak of "spring fever" — the undeniable urge to prune, plant, weed and fertilize.

However, the warm temperatures of spring bring not only spring flowers, but also possible landscape and garden pests. When spring brings out unwanted insects and weeds, avid gardeners often look to pesticides for relief.

When these pests reach damaging levels, using a chemical pesticide is sometimes (but not always) the best way to control them.

A pesticide is a product (usually a chemical) designed to kill offending organisms; such products include insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.

By nature, pesticides are hazardous and demand cautious handling. When they are used properly, however, pesticides improve the quality of our food supply and make our landscape surroundings more attractive.

But chemical pesticides are not the only way to limit pests.

First, determine whether a pest problem truly exists. Most insects, animals, plants and microorganisms on your property are harmless.

If you see a problem area, identify it and decide whether it warrants control.

Even the healthiest lawns and landscapes may harbor damaging insects, weeds and plant diseases. But some of these pests can be limited by nonchemical means, such as hand picking, physical barriers, water sprays, soap solutions, traps and beneficial insects.

In spite of your nonchemical control efforts, pests may reach damaging levels. In such cases, use of chemical pesticides may be justified.

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County Extension Coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.



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