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Managing Yard Pests Video.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Principle # 6:

Manage Yard Pests Responsibly

Insect pests can wreak havoc on the landscape around your home bychewing holes in flowers and leave, boring tunnels in wood, and stripping rings of bark around trunks. The damage these insects do can weaken and even kill our plants.

Although many homeowners are quick to pull out the chemical warfare and spray the little pests to death, pesticides can upset the balance in the environment of your landscape. Most people aren't too keen on handling chemicals, dusts, and sprays either. Concerns about human health, the environment, and pesticide resistance have all resulted in much more scrutiny on the use of pesticides in and around the home.

It is unrealistic, and even unwise, to strive for an insect-, disease-, and weed-free yard. Many insects are beneficial, helping to keep pests under natural control. Many other insects simply coexist with humans causing us no harm.

"Living green" means get to know some the garden "good guys." Help protect these beneficial insects, so they can naturally keep pests under control. For more information see: Beneficial Insects

Lady BeetleAssasin BugGreen Lacewing Larva

Green Lacewing AdultBig-Eyed BugEarwig

Syrphid Fly LarvaSyrphid Fly Adult

From Top Left to Right: Lady Beetle, Assasin Bug, Green Lacewing Larva, Green Lacewing Adult, Big-Eyed Bug, Earwig, Syrphid Fly Larva, Syrphid Fly Adult.

The best approach to handling pest problems in your landscape is a well-rounded one that includes good garden practices, prevention, and, when needed, safe controls. With such an approach, your landscape can be beautiful and healthy year after year.

IPM: Integrated Pest Management

Communities and individuals are successfully managing pests by protecting beneficials and reducing the use of pesticides. By definition, pests include insects, diseases (such as viruses), and weeds. It is easy to practice IPM in your yard.

  • Check your lawn and plant beds regularly for pest problems.
  • Identify the problem. Know the good from the bad. Is it a chinch bug or a big-eyed bug? It makes a difference. Big-eyed bugs eat chinch bugs.
  • When appropriate, first try non-chemical approaches and least toxic pesticides such as insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, and Bt products.
  • Spot treat. If chinch bugs or weeds are the problem, don't treat the entire lawn, only the affected area. If one out of ten shrubs has scale, treat only the infested plant.
  • Be tolerant! Low levels of pests will do minimal damage to plants and many are a source of food for beneficials.
  • The label is the law! Read pesticide labels carefully for information on using pesticides and disposing of left-over chemicals and containers.

For additional information, please visit: Applying Integrated Pest Management.

Florida-Friendly Landscapes: Manage Yard Pests Responsibly

  • Check plants regularly. Walk around your yard every week and observe your plants and lawn for signs of problems.
  • Avoid routine applications of pesticides. Treat only affected areas rather than spraying your entire lawn or yard. (Require that your maintenance company follow these strategies.)
  • Know five beneficial insects that provide natural control of harmful pests.
  • Use environmentally-friendly pesticides such as horticultural oils, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), and insecticidal soaps. These effective, safe materials can control most plant pests.
  • Wherever possible use non-chemical approaches to pest control, such as pruning affected areas, hand-removing insects, etc.