Category Archives: Pesticides

When is Sevin not Sevin?

Any gardener who’s been around the block a few times has probably used the insecticide Sevin®, known generically as carbaryl. First introduced to the public in 1956, carbaryl was the first commercially successful product in the carbamate insecticide class.  Since then, it has been a pest control workhorse for vegetable gardeners and fruit growers.  It’s relatively low cost, broad spectrum activity, and relatively short (usually 3-day) interval between application and harvest made carbaryl a popular choice for growers.  Its relatively low oral and skin toxicity to mammals also made… Read More →

Bug bombs away

For many of us, the ultimate solution for cockroaches and bed bugs and other household pests is the “bug bomb.” Remember the old Raid commercials, where bugs flee from Mr. Raid, only to be followed home by the ominous cloud of death?  The implication is that the cloud from a bug bomb is like a heat seeking missile, able to follow pests into their deepest safe houses. So how well do bug bombs really work?  It turns out, not nearly as well as the animated ads suggest. Give… Read More →

Changing retail market affects scale treatment options

In my Master Gardener classes one of the most confusing aspects of learning insecticides is common vs. trade names.  It’s actually not too different from retail and common names of over-the-counter drugs.  Tylenol® is one well known trade name for the active ingredient with the common name acetaminophen.  There are many other trade names for products that contain the same active ingredient, including Anacin® and Excedrin®, to name just two. In the same way, insecticides have common and trade names.  Acephate is the common name for an insecticide often labeled… Read More →

New study on bees and neonics

Are insecticides to blame for killing off the honey bee?  That question has stimulated lively debate in both scientific and policy circles the past two years.  At the heart of the controversy is a group of insecticides known as neonicotinoids.  Neonics, as they’re sometimes called, have risen over the past 20 years to become the number one class of insecticides sold worldwide, and are being used increasingly by nurseries and home gardeners to control a variety of landscape and garden pest problems. Environmental groups contend that the case is… Read More →

Rutgers study shows best home treatments for bed bugs

Bed bugs are best treated by an experienced professional.  Let me say that again…  If you have bed bugs, and you can hire a professional who knows what they’re doing, then do it.  It can save you much grief and lost sleep. Now that I’ve said that, let me address those who, for whatever reason, must fight bed bugs without professional help. If professional service is not in the cards for you right now, you have some options. First consider the approach outlined in my fact sheet on… Read More →

Plan Bee: Insecticide tags on nursery plants

Lobbying efforts by “defenders of the bees” have been rewarded by one of the largest retailers of nursery plants requiring new tags on plants.  As reported today by Nursery Management magazine, all Home Depot plants treated by greenhouse or nursery producers with one of the neonicotinoid insecticides will have to carry a special tag informing customers of the treatment and potential residues. What’s this about?  It’s all part of a political and scientific brouhaha over a group of insecticides that were recently discovered to have some subtle, and possibly deadly,… Read More →

The NYT on CCD

The New York Times just published an article and video on the complex nature of colony collapse disorder (CCD) in honey bees.  Author Clyde Haberman does a good job of presenting the case for the side of the debate that argues for multiple interacting causes of the bee problem. If you’re not familiar with CCD, it is a mysterious disorder that has afflicted 30% or so of commercial bee hives in the U.S. since 2006.  Something about the problem has touched a nerve with many Americans who fear that… Read More →

Crape myrtle bark scale reduces bloom

As the crape myrtle bark scale spreads throughout Texas, one of the first questions we hear is “will the scale kill my tree?” The answer appears to be “no”, at least not often.  To date we’ve not been able to show any crape myrtle tree death as a result of a bark scale infestation.  But like many sap-feeding scale insects, these little scales can stress and reduce the appearance of the trees, while producing a prodigious amount of sticky “honeydew” that can coat the leaves and anything under the tree… Read More →

Bee protests are cute, but…

A recent protest by organic activists outside a Chicago Home Depot highlighted the current debate over pesticides and bees.  It also reminded me that no one wants to go on record as being “against the bees”.  Check out the video above. Let’s face it.  Despite their sometimes dangerous side, bees rank relatively high on most people’s list of favorite insects. After all, bees are a sure sign of spring (much needed this year).  And they make honey for goodness sake. And, as the beekeeping industry keeps reminding us,… Read More →

Care with bed bug insecticide

With the growing incidence of bed bugs being found in homes and apartments, the potential for pesticide misuse is up. Evidence of the potential for harm came out last week in a report from the Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (By the way, I’m absolutely sure that with its current title this periodical will never make Amazon.com’s Best Sellers in Magazines List). The study reports on acute illnesses associated with dichlorvos is the active ingredient in no-pest strips.  If you’ve been around awhile like me, you… Read More →