Pest control

Jane McGary
Sun, 14 Jul 2002 08:44:17 PDT
Cathy Craig wrote,
>Mechanical methods are a good line of first defense (like cutting
>caterpillars and slugs in half with scissors) and provide food for other
>garden inhabitants. You can take out a lot of slugs if you can stay up
>beyond 11pm.

Works if you live in town in a desert. Doesn't help much if you live 6
miles from the nearest town in the next thing to a rain forest.

The iron phosphate bait Cathy mentioned is indeed harmless to mammals and
birds--don't know about reptiles--and is not at all attractive to my
ferociously omnivorous dogs. It is awfully expensive but I have used 3
boxes so far this season and think I have seen some results. I'm hoping
they start putting it up in agricultural quantities and keep checking with
the farm supply store.

As for ants, I don't think they are a problem for bulbs -- but they are a
problem for me when I repot the bulbs from the frames in summer, as I often
turn out a pot full of healthy bulbs and stinging ants. Maybe, like bee
stings, ant stings cure arthritis? However, I have lost several Cassiopes
in the rock garden because ants nested under them and carried the soil away
from the roots. They like the dense shelter of the plants during the rainy

I have not seen any damage from pillbugs, although they are present in the
environment in small quantities.

Cathy mentioned using a castor oil spray for gophers. Has anybody
experimented with dipping bulbs in castor oil before planting them? I keep
thinking there MUST be a treatment that will make bulbs unpalatable to
burrowing rodents (deer mice and voles, here), and I harbor evil suspicions
that the Dutch know about one and won't tell us so that we'll buy new
tulips every year. I have tried turpentine, which was recommended to me by
a grower in the Midwest (didn't work), and Bitter Limene, a product sold
for repelling dogs from chewing things (didn't work). What tulips and
crocuses I'd have if I could find a vole repellent that was actually
ABSORBED by the bulb and didn't dissipate during winter!

In fact, if there is someone out there who has the knowledge and facilities
to work on it, I'll give her or him a grant to do it.

Jane McGary
NW Oregon

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