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May 2008
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Non-chemical ways of controlling pests

FLAME WEEDING – This method can be done with a small propane torch, however for larger areas one of the weed flaming torches is an excellent tool. Weed flaming has long been a practice on organic farms in Europe. The point of flaming is not to charbroil the weeds, but heat them just enough that they wilt. This will heat up the cell sap in turn causing them to expand and rupture. Flaming can be used as a spot treatment in lawns. The grass is going to get singed, however it will bounce right back. You may need to flame tough perennial weeds a couple of times to get rid of them. You will have to practice to get the technique down. Keep some water handy when you are flame weeding!

HOREHOUND LEAVES(Marrubium Vulgare) like many varieties in the mint family, the many tiny flowers attract Braconid and Icheumonid wasps, and Tachinidin and Syrid flies. The larval forms of these insects parasitize or otherwise consume many other insects that we consider pests. A hardy plant; it grows where many others fail to thrive it survives all but the harshest winters, and even then will selfseed effectively. Blooms over a long season, attracting beneficial insects almost as long as you are likely to need them. For best results use horehound directly as a companion plant. (Tomatoes are “encouraged” by growing horehound nearby). This applies to peppers and garden variety members of the potato family.

INSECTICIDAL SOAPS are totally bio-degradable and environmentally safe, however, kills beneficial insects as well. The spray penetrates their bodies and causes cell membranes to burst. Spray only those plants exhibiting symptoms. Works as a smothering agent on a wide variety of insects: aphids, mites, white fly, scale, leafhoppers and others. Safe to use up to the day of harvest. Must be sprayed directly on pests for control. Spray the entire plant thoroughly and repeat applications frequently. Soft water produces a sudsier spray that will reach all surfaces of a plant.

LEBIA GRANDIS (Coleoptera: Carabidae) belongs to a large family of beetles containing approximately 40,000 species. Forty-eight species occur in North America. The life history is known for less than 10 of the North American species. The adults are predators and first instar larvae are parasitoids of chrysomelid beetles.

Appearance: Lebia beetles are usually colourful as adults and range in size from 2.5 to 14 mm in length, depending on the species. Head is usually pale (with a reddish tinge) as are mouthparts, antennae, and thorax. Abdomen is mostly black with metallic blue, purple, or sometimes greenish luster to the elytra (wing covers). Legs are entirely pale with a reddish tinge.

Lebia grandis first instar larvae are pale to tan in colouration, heavily sclerotized (hardened), with well developed appendages, mouthparts and antennae, as is typical for carabid larvae. Body length ranges from 3 to 4 mm and width is about 0.5 mm. The second instar larvae undergo a gradual degeneration of appendages, develop a distended body with reduced sclerotization (a simple form of hypermetamorphosis), eventually bearing little resemblance to the first instars.

Pests Attacked: Lebia grandis is an indigenous natural enemy of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata. In fields of cultivated potato, adults are specialist predators of all immature stages of L. decemlineata. However, note that in no-choice feeding trials in the laboratory, L. grandis adults devoured the larvae of the asparagus beetle (Crioceris asparagi). {Neither adults nor larvae of C. asparagi are known to feed on potato plants.} L. grandis larvae are specialist ectoparasitoids of L. decemlineata mature larvae and pupae in the soil.

NEEM when sprayed to foliage often deters leaf-feeding insects (caterpillars). It apparently affects the hormones many insects need to develop, killing them as they attempt to molt or emerge from eggs. Its demonstrated safety to humans (used as toothpaste in India), has recently exempted Neem from food-crop restrictions, by the EPA; thereby enabling manufacturers to market its use on edible or ornamental plants.

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