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What Pesticide Do I Use?

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on August 9, 2011

As you read my blog and other online information about gardening, you may notice that specific pesticides are rarely mentioned as a way to eliminate something.  Instead, you get phrases such as “consult your Extension agent for pesticide recommendations.”  This can be very frustrating, especially when it is not handy to “consult your Extension agent.”

There are a couple of reasons for not putting specific pesticide recommendations in most posts.  The first is that pesticide laws vary greatly just in the United States, let alone across the world.  So if I mention spray pest x with bug spray y, and it is not labeled for that use in your location, you and I can both be in trouble.  Things work better if someone at your location with a knowledge of your pesticide laws gives you that information.

The second reason is that things change.  Pesticides are withdrawn from the market as unexpected problems arise, or new ones that are much better are introduced.  If I specify a pesticide to use that is current today, it may have a label revision tomorrow that makes that use illegal.  Sometimes, it is as simple as the pests in your region have developed a resistance to a perfectly good pesticide, so you need to use something different.

This is not to say it is not exasperating to look up a problem and find nothing but “see your Extension agent for control recommendations.”    It is exasperating for me, too, because I may not always be able to answer a question in a timely manner.  However, it may be slightly less exasperating if you know the reason for the lack of specificity.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jimmy from Flexible Solar Panels August 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I didn’t know that pesticide laws varied state to state. I can see how that could get a person into trouble. What’s your opinion on organic pesticide sprays? In an effort to go more green I’ve been trying vinegar and other supposedly ecofriendly sprays to kill weeds and insects. Vinegar seems to work well on weeds when it’s hot out, but not otherwise. I haven’t found anything that works well for aphids.
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Stephanie Suesan Smith August 13, 2011 at 7:34 am

Some organic sprays are very effective. Neem oil and insecticidal soap are both useful, depending on the insect involved. You will have to see what they are labeled for in your state. I do not know of any research on using vinegar to kill weeds and pests. That doesn’t mean there is not some, it just means I haven’t found it. Many “organic” sprays are little more than a few spices in water. This means do your homework, read the label, and make sure the claims are backed up by independent research. You might read my articles on organic gardening for more information.

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ted kathan August 16, 2011 at 5:51 am

yes I think organic sprays are more natural and sustaining in the long run. After all, all our ancestors use those for hundreds of years and it did work in a natural balanced way. It’s just like human meds, big companies are more for profits not the long term sake for this planet.

It’s just my thought anyway.
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Jerry Clifford from minneapolis mls August 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Do you recommend using organic pesticide instead if you’re uncertain what kind of pesticide to use? Like you said, pesticides really vary and sometimes, changes occur in each pesticide.

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Stephanie Suesan Smith August 22, 2011 at 4:54 am

Organic pesticides are still poisonous. In fact, some of the most toxic pesticides on earth are organic. So I recommend consulting with a professional, such as your Extension agent, to get the current recommendations for getting rid of the problem in the least harmful way

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