Gardening | 19 July 2016How to Use IPM to Problem Solve Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Are there pests wreaking havoc in your garden? Find which pests are causing trouble and how to deal with them with these tips from New York & New Jersey Month-by-Month Gardening. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a way to assess damage to a plant and determine how best to treat the cause of that damage. Critical to IPM is that the gardener first identify the insect or animal that is eating the landscape shrubs or plants. Here’s how to do it: 1. Determine what is causing the damage—fungal, animal, insect, or a virus. For damage from common animals, check notes in January. 2. For insects, identify the insect. 3. Get to know the life cycle of the insect; many common pests lay eggs in spring and several other times during the summer. 4. Insect eggs and insects that crawl require much less pesticide to control than full-sized flying pests, so they should be the first things to find and treat. Crawlers are slower than flying insects, which make targeting them for treatment much easier. 5. Establish your tolerance level for the problem—not everything is worth treating. Honestly. 6. Always start with the lowest toxic treatment: start with a stream of water from a hose, then move on to horticultural oils and sprays, pyrethrum sprays, then to chemical pesticides and so forth, only if needed. If you need a chemical treatment, always read the label to check that it treats the insect effectively and is safe to use on your plant or shrub. You can also use nature to help you win the insect war. Just as there are things that eat your landscape, there are bugs that eat the insects. These are termed “predator insects.” Inviting them to visit the garden by offering a variety of plants goes a long way to controlling insect damage. Some common predator insects are ladybugs, praying mantis, lacewings, parasitic wasps, and some nematodes. Birds are also predators and deal with a variety of slugs, caterpillars, and flying insects. Spraying insect repellent to rid a plant of a pest insect also kills the good guys, so identification of whether you have the good insects or the demons is important. FUNGAL ISSUES 1. Identify the fungus, if possible; many fungal issues are generic and cannot be identified further than a mildew or fungus, but there are some common ones such as blackspot on roses, hollyhock rust, or downy mildew on squash leaves. 2. Learn what causes the fungus; often it’s environmental (weather), which cannot be changed. For a fungus or mold to grow there have to be three points: think of a triangle. One point is the right environment, one is the fungal pathogen, and the third is the host plant. Some issues are very plant-specific and without that plant, the pathogen will not move to the next plant. Using this triangle image, each point can be in existence without the others. So we can have a damp spring, but if nothing is planted, the pathogen (fungus) can exist without anything to infect. Likewise, in hot, dry weather, your plant might be fine because the fungus cannot exist in high temperatures. So for a problem to occur, all three points have to be in existence at the same time. For fungus and molds, the best environment is usually related to humidity or temperature. We cannot change the weather, but as soon as a weather front comes through that drops the humidity, the fungus that relies on moist air struggles. Some mold/fungal issues are pH sensitive, which is why a treatment of diluted milk is considered a low-toxicity remedy for common problems such as downy mildew or sooty molds. Some fungi only exist on one host plant such as hollyhock rust. Gardens that have phlox and monarda but don’t have hollyhocks cannot be infected with hollyhock rust. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Gardeners living in New York or New Jersey need this easy-to-use guide for year-round plant care! If you’re a passionate gardener and a resident of New York or New Jersey, there’s a book you must acquire for your bookshelf: New York & New Jersey Month-by-Month Gardening. Falling in line with the Cool Springs Press gardening series, this book provides monthly gardening advice, written just for New York and New Jersey gardeners. This gardeners’ guide is organized according to calendar month–January through December. Each month is divided into the following categories: planning, planting, caring for plants, watering, fertilizing, and problem solving. Within those categories, gardeners will find the major plant groups (annuals, edibles, perennials, trees, lawn, and shrubs) covered in detail. Learn the proper time to plant your favorite bulbs and edibles, and find out how to plant bare-root trees. From planting perennials to coming up with a strategy for pest management, New York & New Jersey Month-by-Month Gardening guides readers through every major question that crops up. With essential how-to information organized into helpful sidebars as well as step-by-step photos to illustrate technique, this book is a veritable road map for a year’s worth of gardening tasks in this diverse region. Roll up your sleeves, gardeners, and prepare to get dirty! Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.