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Target Your Pesticides to Protect Beneficials

Posted in Garden Advice on July 03, 2018

Protect Beneficial Insects 

Being targeted with your applications of pesticides help protect beneficial animals, insects, plants, micro-organisms.

Pests are defined as organisms in the 'wrong place'; the 'wrong place' is as defined by us. But there is more to what we regard as pests.

  • A single aphid on your rose is not a problem for the rose except that it is likely to become hundreds of aphids if left unchecked.
  • A rat in the bush is not a problem, but thousands of rats in the bush will be sufficient to impact seriously the population of native birds, reptiles and invertebrates.
  • One wilding pine on a hillside is not much of a problem, but if the whole hillside is covered they exclude native plants and change the entire eco-system.

So, it is often excessive numbers of an organism that make them a pest.

The reason numbers of organisms get out of control is, often, an imbalance caused by we humans altering the environment to our own ends. The aphids on our roses get out of hand because we have bred roses for their attractive flowers and not always their ability to resist aphids. Rats were accidentally introduced to New Zealand along with our own migration to this new country, and we build buildings that suit rats as homes almost as much as they suit us. We planted and grow pines for lumber and should not be surprised that they spread to none cultivated areas.

Pest control is part of our attempt to redress these imbalances. However, there is a danger when carrying out pest control of again creating imbalance. When we spray the garden to control the aphids on our roses we may also kill beneficial insects such as ladybugs, hoverflies and bees. So be targeted with your applications and help the beneficials that will help you.

There are ways to make your re-balancing of the environment using pesticides more effective and reduce the risk of creating a new imbalance.

Be targeted! Only treat the places where pests are a problem. If you have aphids on your rose, check the other roses in your garden. Aphids are mostly host specific, that is rose aphids only attack roses. You will probably find that some of your roses are unaffected; they may be resistant. Do not spray the unaffected roses and do not spray other plants. Even though spraying them might seem to be a sensible precaution to protect them. It may be a costly waste of insecticide and may kill beneficial insects you should be protecting. Pro-active protective treatments can be considered for situations where you 'know' the problem is likely to occur such as roses that are susceptible to blackspot and need treatment with PLANThealth Spectrum on a routine basis.

Be targeted! Use pesticides that are as specifically targeted at the pest as possible.

Be targeted! Don't use pesticides at below the recommended rate even to reduce the effect on beneficials. Using pesticides at below the recommended rate risks not controlling the pest but still harming beneficials and the need for further treatment will only harm beneficials further. It also risks leaving sub-lethally dosed pests that survive and develop tolerance or resistance to the pesticide. Proactive early treatment of pests is better than protracted series 'half' treatments of pests that never quite gets control.
Also, do not apply pesticides at rates above those recommended. The recommended rate has been worked out to be effective. Higher rates are a waste of the pesticide and risks the pesticide causing harm beyond the treatment area.

In these ways, you will rebalance the systems in your garden, your home and your environment.

David Brittain

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