Planning can help a garden just as well as pesticide

The Associated Press
Friday March 09, 2001


What will homeowners do when the nation’s top two chemical pesticides disappear from store shelves, as required in rulings handed down in 2000 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? 

More to the point, will insects or people rule the yard when Dursban and diazinon are no longer available to fight aphids, grubs, caterpillar and other garden pests that chew, eat and suck the life from plants popular the country over? 

Fear not. New alternatives are coming out and old ones dusted off. And at least one entomologist doubts that insect populations will blossom just because these pesticides will no longer be available. 

Dursban and diazinon and pesticides with different brand names but of the same class of organophosphates have been banned by the EPA because the agency considers them no longer safe based on standards of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. 

Bayer-Pursell LLC, Birmingham, Ala., seems to be leading the charge with a line of garden and lawn products called “Advanced.” Its active ingredient, imidacloprid, is not affected by the EPA’s action. 

“Controlling insects will not be as quick and easy now,” according to Michael P. Hoffmann, associate professor of entomology at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and director of the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. 

“Gardeners will have to plan better – what they plant, when and where they plant it and the amount of insect damage they, and their plants, can tolerate.” 

Hoffmann believes the EPA’s decision will force gardeners to turn to the practices collectively known as IPM. Some enthusiasts make a habit of practicing IPM, he said, but the average gardener does not – turning instead to chemical pesticides for control. 

“IPM is about all kinds of control – biological, physical and cultural,” he said, citing practices like picking worms off of cabbage, planting flowering plants that provide nectar to useful insects, avoiding varieties that insects favor and so on. 

Should the gardener insist on pesticides, plenty of choices are available. 

The chemistry – imidacloprid – used in Bayer-Pursell “Advanced” products has recently been made available for consumer use, according to Mark Schneide, director of marketing for the company. Its first use by the company in a consumer product was to control soil insects, chiefly grubs in lawns. 

“Advanced Garden Tree and Shrub” insect control is new this spring and offers gardeners something that has not been available before – year-long, do-it-yourself control of most insects regardless of the size of the tree or shrub. The kind of sprayers homeowners use aren’t very effective beyond a range of 15 to 20 vertical feet. The alternative is to do nothing, implant an insecticide capsule in the trunk of the tree or call a professional. 

The Bayer-Pursell product is a liquid concentrate that is mixed with water and poured on the ground, around the base of the tree or shrub. The liquid is absorbed by the soil, where the roots take it up which in turn distributes it throughout the plant. It stays active for 12 months, protecting new and old growth. A big tree with a trunk circumference of 16 inches requires 16 ounces of product, or about $10 to protect it from insects all year. A one-quart container sells for about $20. 

Other alternatives include products that have been in commerce in one fashion or another for some time – products made from chrysanthemum flowers, the seed of the neem tree, cottonseed oil, citrus peels and other sources. Among the more interesting products from Gardens Alive!, Inc., of Lawrenceburg, Ind., and a major mail-order retailer of alternative pesticide products, is something called “Grub-Away.” 

Bayer-Pursell – www.bayera vanced.com 

Gardens Alive! – http://www.gardensalive.com