Bee friendly alternative to Sevin

CobarchieJuly 28, 2012

I have tried searching the forums for info on this subject but haven't turned up much. Sorry if it's a question that is constantly repeated (I don't think it is, from the lack of search results...)

I try not to spray my garden (corn, watermellon, cantaloupe, squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and carrots) but every now and then it's just covered up with all sorts of critters eating holes in my fruit and I feel like I should. I have a ton of bees buzzing about and I don't want to hurt them.

I have Sevin spray that I use sparingly throughout the year. I didn't know until recently that it kills bees, and I read something in a book somewhere that a certain spray will get the bad critters but not kill bees, but I forgot what it was.

I'm wanting something that I can just go to Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, or any mediocre "nursery" and pick up. I don't really want to special order some magical spray from halfway across the globe or some trendy organic spray that costs 60 dollars a quart...

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I have to say that if you read the label on any Sevin product you purchase, that you will find a clearly worded warning about bees. This warning will be in bold print.

If you are going to use something to kill pests in your garden, you MUST read the label carefully. If you don't understand the label, call your extension office. Those folks would only be too happy to assist. This also applies to organic products, 'trendy' or not.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:11AM
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I'm sure you can tell I'm new at this... Most of the advice I have gone on has been from old timers in the area that have amazing tomato crops every year. They all say Sevin works for them, so I didn't feel like questioning it's use. I just mix it up according to the instructions and use it as infrequently as I can get away with. When there are bugs covering the leaves to the point I can't see green anymore, I give in and spray.

I'm sure you have a suggestion for me, or did you just feel like giving me a dressing down without passing on any of your obvious wisdom?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 12:22AM
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What to use depends on which insect pests you have, kind of, somewhat. Any material that will kill some insects has the potential to kill any insect, pollinators, predators, butterflies, etc. so due care in use is absolutely necessary.
Insecticidal Soap is one relatively low toxic poison, but it is a broad spectrum poison and has the potential to kill any insect it contacts. Neem Oil products, although from "natural" sources, is also a broad spectrum poison that will kill insects not listed on the label if it contacts them. These are somewhat less problematic only because of the life of the poison. The organophosphates, such as Sevin, are long lasting and extremely hazardous poisons that kill any insect that makes contact with it, in the right dose, and some insects have developed immunitiy to this product today making it less effective.
Spraying poisons that will kill off the beneficials as well as the pests creates an opening for the pests to return without the predators since it takes longer for the predators, beneficials, to rebound then the pests, so spraying poisons may solve a problem short term but they create larger problems long term.
Look in to the why there are insect pests in your garden. Is your soil good, and healthy? Is your soils pH where it should be fo rthe plants growing there? Is that soil evenly moist but well drained? Does that soil have adequate levels of organic matter? What kind of life is in that soil?
Try intercropping/companion planting.
Use, as needed, Floating Row Covers.
Believe it or not some insects do not fly very high so a screen 2 feet high may keep them from the plants they want to find. There are a number of things to do, other than sprya poisons, that can help keep insect pests from munching on our plants.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 7:52AM
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kimpa(z6b PA)

Identifying the problem pests is important first step. Then you can learn about their stages of life. Early detection and handpicking of the eggs can prevent big problems down the road, for example. Also, some pest problems can only be controlled with chemicals at certain times.

Can you describe your problems in further detail? And where do you live? I am from Pennsylvania and have lots of great information I can get you links for.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:11AM
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I live in West Tennessee. I've got a ton of ants crawling all over my corn right now, and the underside of several of my cucumber leaves are completely covered with a black insect that looks like a spider. Some of the leaves have holes from insects feeding (I'm assuming). I've got other insects on the leaves but I'm no entomologist. As far as companion planting, the order in which I listed my plants in my first post is the order from left to right in my garden. I've got one long row of double dug earth that I added bagged garden soil to before I planted and it's mulched with small pine bark chunks. I water deep with a soaker hose once a week.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:45AM
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kimpa(z6b PA)

The ants on the corn may be a sign of aphids. Spraying the aphids off with a strong stream of water can help (don't knock the corn down!) along with ant baits. I make my own:1 teaspoon boric acid (over the counter at pharmacy), 6 tablespoons sugar, in 2 cups of water. I soak cotton balls and put in a covered container such as a yogurt cup with small entrance holes in bottom. Ants will eat it and take it back to their queen.

Th cucumber pest may be squash bugs. I would remove the entire leaf, if only on a few leaves. Here is a link to a book from Penn State on vegetable gardening in Pennsylvania.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:22AM
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