Pests -- Control in General

There is nothing more frustrating than getting a favorite plant from a friend or nursery and later finding out that it’s infested with insect pests or mold. Insects are pretty much everywhere outside, and when there is a lot of one kind of insect, something comes along and starts to eat them. But when you grow indoors, if they get into your grow area they can thrive in a nice controlled environment with no predators. Before bringing in new plants or cuttings into your grow room make sure to quarantine them for a week before mixing them in with other plants.  Most insects can be washed off plants with soapy water or swabbed with alcohol. I have even read that some people use a vacuum to get the pests off their plants.  I’d not try this if you are growing a delicate plant. If your plants are small enough you could try to submerge the plant under water for several hours or even over night if you are dealing with a recurring infestation. This will NOT be good for the plant, but most plants will survive this while the insects and their eggs will suffocate. Simply dip the entire small plant, container and all under water in a bucket or larger container. You may need to weigh the container down a bit with stones or other heavy small objects. I’d also suggest mixing a small amount of a mild diluted soap in the water before submerging the plants. Soap gets in insects breathing parts and suffocates them; it also will encase and kill eggs. When you take the plant out, you need to rinse it with fresh water to get the soap off and maybe any insect eggs that survived. Then you need to put a fan on the plants and try to get all the water out of the soil. If you gently press on the soil a few times much of the water should drain out the bottom.

In my opinion, chemicals should be a last resort and many are unsuitable if you consume what you grow. Pyrethrum is an organic derived pesticide that is made from Chrysanthemums. It is safe to use on agricultural plants i.e. those you consume. Always follow the manufactures instructions with care and caution. Soaps have long been used for control of insects and mites. Several "insecticidal" soaps are sold at nurseries and of course HTGsupply.com. These soaps control a variety of garden pests. In addition, some soft hand soaps and liquid dishwashing detergents can kill insects. In general, soaps tend to kill small, soft-bodied insects and mites, such as aphids, white flies and mealy bugs.

Agricultural  Insecticides Have Their Limitations:

• Plants must be covered thoroughly because insecticides are effective only if they make contact with the insect. This is why it is more effective to dip small plants into soapy water then to wash plants. If you miss cleaning a few eggs off just one leaf, your problems will reoccur

• If there are insects in the room, maybe hanging out on the walls or flying around that aren't killed soon after application, they'll lay eggs and your problem will reoccur.

Some kinds of plants are injured by insecticides. If you're using insecticidal soap, check the label for a list of plants that may be harmed by use. If you are not sure, try putting it on just one leaf the first time you use it and see if the leaf suffers.

• Soaps work best when applied in soft (or softened) water, preferably during cooler periods when drying is slow.

More on specific pests to come, white flies are next. Please send me an E-mail if you want me to write about a specific pest you have.

In closing I will say that the ultimate solution to any bug infestation is you end up killing many plants and hand washing every inch of the plants you keep... A lot of work and not much fun.
Good Growing,
Dr E.R. Myers

Read my post on Root Aphids
Read my post on Aphids

Read my post on spider mites

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