Garden Consultant for Pest control organic way

carlos_martin(10b)August 13, 2014

Does anyone know if there is such a thing as a garden consultant? I live in Miami- Broward county area? I want someone that knows about insects and can show me ways to a better organic methods to get rid off ants, aphids and all the bad pest control in way I wont hurt my butterfly garden. Anyone know any cool nerd consultants?

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There are people that consult on environmentally sound insect pest control practices and many of the greenhouse proprietors are using them because even with the fee they charge the pest control costs for these greenhouse operators is much lower. Contact your local office of your University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service to see if there are any of these in your area.

Here is a link that might be useful: UFl CES

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:42AM
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carlos_martin, you have already taken the first step.
"Reader, if you seek knowledge, look around here."
I claim poetic license in making free with the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren
"......Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice"

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:43AM
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carlos_martin, OK! I nominate myself! And this forum will be the stage for the discussion. Participation will be open, free and voluntary.
My first request is, "Can you state, in one sentence, what your goal is?"
Can't do it in one sentence?
Use as many as you want.
We will distill the many thoughts into a worthwhile goal.
This can be a fun way to share knowledge.
My grandfather used to say, "Knowledge defies mathematics! The more it is divided, the more it is multiplied."

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:19PM
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ronalawn82, My goal is to have a healthy garden where my plants have the edge over harmful insects and pest. I know there are always going to be pest but there are some I just cant seem to get rid off. Like the Little Leaf Notcher Weevil. This guy keeps multiplying and eating my plants leaf and trees at one point i starting catching them and feeding them to the lizards you know their bad when lizards spit them out and dont like the taste lol. I also have these little red ants everywhere that go up my plants and in the roots follow by aphids and scales I had to hard trim a few of my plants and two got so sick I had to throw them away. I dont want to go the chemical way because I have a lot of butterflies and hummingbirds. I know chemicals like 3/1 bayers work but they also hurt the good insects like lady bugs. I just get overwhelm with so much information that i really dont know what really works. Thanks for the help I'm glad I found a place for support

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:38PM
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kimmsr , Thank you... good idea will ask.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:42PM
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carlos_martin, "...where my plants have the edge over harmful insects and pest."
I am glad that you stated it that way. We are not out to eradicate any pest. We just want to compete successfully against them.
The first requirement is that we must know what the healthy plant looks like during the current season.
A variegation can sometimes be mistaken for a deficiency symptom; the same leaf on the same plant may be of a different color later in the year; a bug can be mistaken for a thorn; and the first time I saw the corky growth (normal) on a sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua), I thought I was dealing with a fungus.
The next requirement is that we must be able to observe! Which is different from 'look' or 'see'.
We actively and purposefully look for signs and symptoms (is there a difference in these two terms?) of abnormality.
Some sort of hand lens is an invaluable aid.
Another important feature of plant (crop) observation is that we have to make a conscious effort to learn to do it.
We cannot just pick up the habit.
And like everything else it is difficult before it becomes easy.
In plants, the basic unit of identity is the leaf. One can identify trees from a distance by looking at the canopy which is merely all the leaves arranged in a certain way that is typical for the species.
We each develop an individual approach that works best for us.
If I am dealing with a tree, I usually start at the base and work upward. Ladders, binoculars and cameras help tremendously. Indeed 'crop observation flights' were a regular feature when weather conditions precluded ground access.
More commonly I start at the top and work downward because I am dealing with shrubs, turf and other plants in between.
We have to start somewhere, so we will start with a Ligustrum hedge. As we approach the hedge we may notice a brown discoloration on many leaves. Closer observation shows the individual spots have a brown outer border and a lighter colored (tan) center. We may know that this is Cercospora leaf spot; and that it is specially common on Ligustrum. If not, we can "Google" (is that now a regular verb?) a couple of search words and find the answer. A very easy way is to come to this forum and pose a question. (Shameless plug!)
So now we are up close to the Ligustrum. Starting at the topmost bud area we look (with or without the aid of hand lens) for anything does not belong there.
Ants might be present, nearby there are tiny flecks of white; elsewhere on the plant there might be this black deposit. And what is this sticky, honey-like stuff? Finally' the aphids themselves in green garb - or yellow, or black even.
Ants treat aphids like Hindus treat cows. Hindus worship cows. They feed, house and wash them. They protect cows from harm. And in return they obtain milk (no added preservatives) which they add to tea; and from which they make ghee for their grandchildren to enjoy with roti.
We will not talk about gobar lest you think that it's pure BS (which it is).
Ants aggressively protect aphids - and even move them from one place to another; because aphids excrete honey dew which ants consume. Any left over honey dew attracts the sooty mold fungus which turns things black. Aphids exhibit incomplete metamorphosis - like cockroaches. As they grow bigger, they shed their outer coat which is white (sharkskin you think?). They carelessly leave their rent coats presumably for the ants to pick up. But the ants are interested in honey dew only; and the little white flecks serve as evidence of aphids activity to observant people like you and me.
I enjoyed doing this.
We can continue - or not.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:42PM
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carlos_martin, I'll continue anyway.
So there are signs of aphids. The next step is to confirm their presence. Here are images..
Look for them in the most tender parts of the plant - the newest tissues; and sometimes under the youngest leaves.
They are present? If 'No' wipe brow and breathe sigh of relief.
If 'Yes' consider the extent of the infestation.
Bear in mind the Murphy's law that states, "If left to themselves, things will go from bad to worse!"
If you can live with the level of damage, you need not do anything.
If you can't, then consider the following.
Biological methods. If predators are present then you will want to balance their numbers with their food supply. Lady bugs are the preferred predator because from the time that they hatch from these eggs, aphids are their favorite dish.
And you can nurture the population of lady bugs through successive life cycles by ensuring that some aphids are always present.
You see? Ridding your garden of all pests may not be the best way to achieve your stated goal.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:33PM
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    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:44PM
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Thank you for taking the time for such valuable information ronalawn! I'm going to photograph some of my plants this weekend. I do have a good amount of ladybugs but can always have more. Is there a host plant for ladybugs? Should I go after the ants first since they protect the aphids? Thanks again !!!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 11:03PM
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Cunzun, you will be interested in this site

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 3:39AM
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I was going to get around to ants (eventually); but since you ask we can deal with them here and now.
To begin with, here is a quote on how to get rid of ants.
"Rid your garden of aphids, whiteflies and mealybugs. These sap-feeding insects excrete "honeydew," a sugary favorite of ants.'
Elsewhere, a similar site advises to get rid of aphids, "rid your garden of ants!"
The connection (almost a symbiosis!) between ants and aphids is quite established. I got rid of aphids on some crepe myrtles by getting rid of the ants and leaving the rest to the lady bugs. Please do not ask what I used.
(I wonder what would happen to the aphids population if lady bugs ate up ants.)
And now we have to ponder "organic" methods of getting rid of ants.
I am in favor of soap and water.
Long ago and far away, I read that one should treat a lawn in a similar fashion as one treats her / his hair - cut / mow; comb / rake and shampoo / soap.
At that time I was tempted to try anything. (Flower child and all that.) So I used to spray the front yard with a strong soap solution every month. It worked to keep the lawn free of insects. The soap was quite 'hard' - almost caustic. I kept a cake (bar) of it in a jam jar full of water. I would pour off the liquid into a hose end sprayer (modified paint sprayer) and hose down the lawn each month.
I regularly use the "soap flush" method to determine insect infestation on lawns. I am quite confident that if the property (walls to fence) were to be sprayed with a solution of lemon flavored dishwashing liquid (one tablespoon per gallon through a Gilmour 00362 hose end sprayer) every 4 weeks, it will keep the landscape free of a build up of harmful insects.
Did I forget to note that "mention of any trade name or commercial product does not constitute endorsement or recommendation of this product by me"?
All of this has been an attempt to illustrate the use of another tool to "organically" control pests.
Manipulation of the environment to reduce infestation or infection.
The other tool so far, was Encourage the presence of predators to control a pest
Do you wonder why I put quotation marks around words that are rooted in the term "organic"?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 5:49AM
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It all started in a hardware store where I worked in the "Lawn & Garden" department ... and we all had to almost memorize the current sales flyer ...and there! in front of my unbelieving eyes! were the words "100 % organic Nitrogen" touting a bag of 6-6-6.
"Impossible!" I thought, "it is urea!"
Urea is made when carbon dioxide is reacted with anhydrous ammonia. This process happens under intense pressure, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Urea is processed to take the form of granules or solid globules known as prills. Dry urea is very soluble and must be kept away from moisture until its use.>
I soon found out that I was thinking of "organic" as "derived from plant or animal matter" - while the ad was proclaiming "organic" as in "organic chemistry" - which deals with compounds of carbon.
Urea is an organic compound with the chemical formula (NH2)2CO. Prior to 1828 it was known to occur only in the excrement of mammals
Then in 1828, Friedrich Wohler synthesized urea and unwittingly created the loophole through which synthetic urea could be touted as "organic".
My neighbor refuses my modest offerings of produce.
He claims that they are not grown "organically".
I ask why does he think so.
"You drive a spray truck!" was his laconic retort. Meanwhile, he irrigates his landscape with recycled water.
When I think about it carefully, I conclude that the only really organic areas on earth most likely exist in the rain forests of Brazil.
Find out what "Organic Certification" means to you, the individual, and we can discuss it here.
More importantly, what does it mean in the country that exports food stuff that meanders its way to your dining table?
Yes! "Organic" has sharp teeth.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 2:39PM
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Great education will try the soap and water solution soon. Yeah I know the definition of organic is very vague and taken advantage off. I will post some pics of my garden bad insects

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:55PM
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    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:57PM
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    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 7:59PM
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    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:00PM
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    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:02PM
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That Urea today is made synthetically makes it unacceptable to any true organic grower, no matter where it might be found naturally. Arsenic is found naturally but is not an acceptable organic pesticide, today.
Control of Aphids, mealy bugs, etc. can be achieved simply by knocking the wee buggers off the plants with sharp sprays of water, no need to even add soap to that water.
Most all dishwashing liquids are detergents today and not soap. Simply spraying soap mixtures around the garden without a specific target in mind can do more harm then good by killing off beneficial insects as well as the pests. Due care in applying any insecticide is necessary since most will kill beneficials which can result in having more insect pests.
Some research indicates that beneficial insects will tend to stay around if some of the flowers we consider "weeds" are allowed to grow, a bed called an insectary can help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Insectaries

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 7:14AM
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carlos_martin, the image labeled 'mealy bugs' is typically what you see in a serious (as opposed to mild) infestation.
They will congregate around tender (as opposed to hardened) growth. They seem to cluster along midrib of young leaves. I opine that this might be because the full flow of sap in such areas requires less effort from an insect that has to suck its meals out of an organism that resists its efforts to so do.
The caterpillar of the 'oleander moth' (Syntomeida epilais) exploits this "midrib" phenomenon to evade the poison of its host (Nerium spp.)
But back to the mealy bugs.
With such a severe infestation, I am wondering, "Where are the lady bugs/beetles?"
I did not see any in the images; but maybe you have seen them.
It does not matter (too much).
The important point is that you wish to manage the control of this pest in an integrated sort of way.
In my day it was IPC.
IPM came a couple of decades later.
If you wish to use the most benign, sustainable method to control a pest or disease, pay attention to kimmsr on this site.
He recommends "Control of Aphids, mealy bugs, etc. can be achieved simply by knocking the wee buggers off the plants with sharp sprays of water, no need to even add soap to that water".
(S)he is quite right.
The only bump in the road is where do we classify the activity.
It is certainly not Chemical.
It could be Cultural, if the watering coincides with a scheduled irrigation.
Depending upon the method, it could be classified as:
Mechanical - if it is an automatic system.
Manual - if someone held a hose and blasted the "wee buggers off".
I am sorry to be so late coming back here.
I was half expecting kimmsr, purpleinopp , rhizo_1, ken_adrian or jean001 to chip in.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:11PM
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There is no need to use a hose to knock Aphids off plants and if not used carefully that spray from the hose could cause more damage then the Aphids would. Since
I noticed that, many years ago, I found a 1 quart spray bottle works quite well.
You will never "get rid" of ants in the garden. Nothing that is acceptable to an organic grower will even begin to eliminate them and since they are more often beneficial (a big part of Ma Natures recycling machine) you really do not want to. If you watch ants you will see them carrying an Aphid from a plant to a nest but not from the nest to a plant.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 6:51AM
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