Spring is coming, and with it comes weeds, bugs, and diseases, oh my! Many home gardeners often get frustrated about what to do for various garden pests. Whether it is a weed, insect, or disease, the first step is to get proper identification. With Extension offices in every county, the local county extension agent is a great first option for identification! For situations where a more definitive identification is necessary, samples can be submitted to the Clemson Plant Problem Clinic.
Once the pest is identified correctly, the next step is to determine which control measures to put in place. There is no cookie-cutter approach to pest management. It is necessary to consider the size of the affected area, the lifecycle of the pest, types of plants, as well as your goals.
Clemson Extension recommends using an integrated pest management (IPM) plan. Integrated pest management involves utilizing multiple control measures, both chemical and non-chemical, to keep pests at acceptable levels. The non-chemical methods involve preventing pest problems from occurring by promoting happy, healthy plants through proper planting, site selection, fertilization, irrigation, etc. Other non-chemical methods involve trapping, mulching, and other barriers. When a chemical pesticide is needed, choose one strong enough to control the pest with the least impact on non-target organisms and the environment. Soaps and oils are excellent chemical controls as first spray choices. These are very effective against a wide variety of pests and have a minimal impact on non-targets and the environments. Implementing a common-sense integrated approach to managing pests produces better results and an overall healthier home garden.
For more information, see HGIC 2755, Intergrated Pest Management (IPM).