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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Integrated Pest Management - with chocolate sauce!

This week's Master Gardener class was on entomology. It was a lot different from all the other bug classes I have taken in the past, and the reason was the de-emphasis of chemical control.

As a former card-carrying pesticide applicator licensee, I'm glad of it. It just amazes me a bit considering that Master Gardening is a program affiliated with the land grant university system. None of my professors or extension agents from Oregon State University would have even dared suggest row covers or manually picking caterpillars off of crops twenty years ago.

We learned about all kinds of insects; what they looked like, how they derived nourishment, and how to control them in the environment. "Natural" chemicals were discussed, like Neem, as well as soapy water and beneficial insects. We even talked about the type of plants to have in the garden like fennel, dill and milkweed, to serve as hosts for beneficials.

What was interesting about the discussion was the reaction of some of my fellow classmates. These are all gardeners who battle it out with nature every day. Many of them were exasperated and demoralized from losing a war against squash borers, scale, cucumber beetles, or fire ants. They kept pressing for the "good stuff" to use to eliminate these pests. To her credit, our extension agent instructor was fair to chemicals, but kept bringing us back to how the pest lives and how to interrupt it's life cycle in non petroleum product ways. I appreciated this approach. We pour so many poisons into our environment and ultimately our bodies, which is the main reason I decided to go organic.

This holistic approach is called Integrated Pest Management. It's the blending of all effective, economical, and environmentally sound pest control methods into a single but flexible approach to pest control. This includes modifying cultural practices (like crop rotation), using mechanical instead of chemical methods (like pruning), biological, and physical manipulations (like row covers.)

To demonstrate her point, the instructor brought us a treat; chocolate covered crickets. You know I can't resist chocolate, so I tried one. The chocolate was pretty good and the cricket gave it kind of a rice crispy crunch. Now that's a pest management program I can really get behind!

1 comment:

  1. How to kill pests without killing yourself or the earth......

    Americans rank their fear of pest infestations third - only after their fear of fire and natural disaster - on the list of threats to their homes that they worry about most. This is why the buSINess of pest control is so lucrative and effects so many of us.
    There are about 50 to 60 million insect species on earth - we have named only about 1 million and there are only about 1 thousand pest species - already over 50% of these thousand pests are already resistant to our volatile, dangerous, synthetic pesticide POISONS. We accidentally lose about 25,000 to 100,000 species of insects, plants and animals every year due to "man's footprint". But, after poisoning the entire world and contaminating every living thing for over 60 years with these dangerous and ineffective pesticide POISONS we have not even controlled much less eliminated even one pest species and every year we use/misuse more and more pesticide POISONS to try to "keep up"! Even with all of this expensive and unnecessary pollution - we lose more and more crops and lives to these thousand pests every year.

    We are losing the war against these thousand pests mainly because we insist on using only synthetic pesticide POISONS and fertilizers There has been a severe "knowledge drought" - a worldwide decline in agricultural R&D, especially in production research and safe, more effective pest control since the advent of synthetic pesticide POISONS and fertilizers. Today we are like lemmings running to the sea insisting that is the "right way". The greatest challenge facing humanity this century is the necessity for us to double our global food production with less land, less water, less nutrients, less science, frequent droughts, more and more contamination and ever-increasing pest damage.

    National Poison Prevention Week, March 18-24,2007 was created to highlight the dangers of poisoning and how to prevent it. One study shows that about 70,000 children in the USA were involved in common household pesticide-related (acute) poisonings or exposures in 2004. At least two peer-reviewed studies have described associations between autism rates and pesticides (D'Amelio et al 2005; Roberts EM et al 2007 in EHP). It is estimated that 300,000 farm workers suffer acute pesticide poisoning each year just in the United States - No one is checking chronic contamination.
    In order to try to help "stem the tide", I have just finished re-writing my IPM encyclopedia entitled: THE BEST CONTROL II, that contains over 2,800 safe and far more effective alternatives to pesticide POISONS. This latest copyrighted work is about 1,900 pages in length and is now being updated at my new website at .

    This new website at has been basically updated; all we have left to update is Chapter 39 and to renumber the pages. All of these copyrighted items are free for you to read and/or download. There is simply no need to POISON yourself or your family or to have any pest problems.

    Stephen L. Tvedten
    2530 Hayes Street
    Marne, Michigan 49435
    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest.