"Natural" insect control

Cynthia Mueller c-mueller@tamu.edu
Sun, 14 Jul 2002 09:07:02 PDT
Paul Tyerman wrote of his experiences using snail baits...I, too, have wondered if putting out baits or even poison for snails and pillbugs here in Central Texas would mean killing skinks, lizards and small toads.  What do others think?  I have a creek on two sides of my house, and feel fortunate to have about 5 species of lizards and skinks, bullfrogs, toads, and treefrogs galore, especially since the emergence of all the news articles about the dearth of amphibians nowdays because of pollutants.  Some of the small toads in my garden are no bigger than raisins this time of year.  Not many appear to make it to adulthood, tho, so something must eat them in adolescence.

Who could tell us if lizards are attracted to "sluggish" slugs or half-dead pillbugs?  How long does it take for poisons to finish off pillbugs? What might be the window of time while an insect is still alive but riddled with poison?  If one poisons at night, are the intended creatures dead by morning when lizards come out?

Another thing that will help us understand just what ingredients are in pesticides used in England, Australia or elsewhere would be if the correspondent could mention the chemical agent in whatever pesticide he/she is using, because brand names seem to be localized.  I could, for instance, say that I am using  a snail bait that has metaldehyde as the active agent, and everyone in distant areas would have a better understanding...

However, even if we are cautious about indiscriminate dosing with chemicals, thank God we have them!  Last week a flower stalk appeared on a clump of unknown rainlilies I had grown from seed snatched from a botanical research institute in Grasse, France two years before.  The bud seemed a beautiful golden apricot color, and I congratulated myself that after work that day I would be able to have my first view!  Imagine when I came up to the clump and found no bloom petals at all, just a greenish gnawed away core with the remains of a style l/4 inch long still sticking out forlornly...I tore up the surrounding aquilegias, inland sea oats, and their litter, but found no grasshopper or large woolly bear caterpillar, two of the most likely suspects.  Nature had the last laugh, though.  The gnawed remains of the ovary have swelled up, and appear to be forming a seed pod.  Better luck next time.  I've been putting a little household insect spray on the bloom stalk of my Hipp. mandonii every day, just in case the creature returns.
Cynthia W. Mueller
College Station, TX
Zone 8b-9

>>> ptyerman@ozemail.com.au 07/14/02 09:10AM >>>
>this is so true and one reason why we shouldn't kill all insects. The good
>ones help to keep the status quo. I like your technique of only treating
>infected plants, and I'm sure you use it sparingly.

More information about the pbs mailing list