A Few Good Reasons Not to Use Insecticides

| 10/13/2010 2:36:36 PM

Tags: Insects, Caterpillars, Butterflies, Milkweed bugs, Integrated Pest Management, Cindy Murphy,

CindyMurphyBlog.jpg“Insects outnumber humans 500,000 to 1 and, if not controlled, would soon destroy the human race and rule the earth

Oh! The horror!!!!

“…a single pair of flies, beginning operations in April, might be the progenitors, if all were to live, of some 191,010,000,000,000,000,000 flies by August of the same year… this number would cover the entire earth 47 feet deep.”

Run! Run for your life before it’s too late!!!

Or just use Raid; it kills bugs dead.

The quotes above are not from a B-horror flick just-in-time for Halloween release. They came from a pamphlet I found while cleaning out Mom’s cabinets. “What You Should Know About Insecticides” was in an envelope from S.C. Johnson & Son, along with a bunch of other pamphlets about things like “How To Have A Prettier Room,” and “How To Make House Cleaning Easier.” “What You Should Know About Insecticides” discusses Johnson’s Wax Laboratories brand new product, “Raid.” The year was 1956, and the envelope is so old the zip code line of the address reads, “Detroit 4, Michigan.” Why Mom kept it for all these years, I don’t know ... just like I’m not sure why I put it into my bag to bring home. Maybe, like Mom, I thought I might one day find a use for it ... like writing a blog about how far we’ve come during the last 50 years, from the grab a can of insecticide every time you see a bug or a hole in a leaf mentality, to the concept of Integrated Pest Management, commonly referred to as IPM.

cindy murphy
10/23/2010 6:18:41 AM

It's never too late, Stepper; I appreciate you taking the time to comment. The monarchs are probably my favorite too, which goes all the way back to when I was a kid. My dad was fascinated by them, and once took us up north to a place where they congregate before making their migration. There must have been hundreds, maybe even thousands of them! It was a sight I'll never forget. He also found a monarch caterpillar in the yard once and fitted a screen over an old fishtank, and filled it with milkweed, so we could watch the life cycle up close. It changed into a chrysalis, and when the butterfly emerged, we released it. It was a cool thing to see as a kid. I never did find out what the green bug was. I'm leaning toward some kind of katydid only because I've never seen a grasshopper that bright green.

chris davis
10/22/2010 10:34:04 PM

I know I'm late on this, but I appreciate your efforts for the Monarch Butterflies - they need the milkweed. There are many varieties of butterflies, but the Monarch has always been my favorite. And thanks to Shannon for the bug pictures. Good job! Did you ever find out about your green bug?

cindy murphy
10/15/2010 7:18:35 AM

Thanks, Vickie. Most of the photos were taken by Shannon, my nine year old. Good thing we're in the age of digital cameras - she took over a hundred pictures of things she found in the yard in just a few days! I bet once those chickens of yours get up and running around you'll have even less of a bug problem, (I wonder if they eat potato bugs?). Hope your chicken adventure is still going well for you. I'm looking forward to hearing about how it's coming along. Have a great weekend! Cindy

10/14/2010 9:56:19 PM

Cindy, Your pictures are fantastic they really are some cool looking bugs! About the only bugs I have problems with are potato bugs and they die by squishing and dusting them with flour (it seems to help). Great article. vickie

cindy murphy
10/14/2010 8:32:25 PM

Hi, Dave. I like milkweed - it's got a pretty flower and smells heavenly. It attracts the pollinators - the butterflies and bees, and is the sole food (not soul food; but that's good too) of Monarch caterpillars. We might be able to do without it, but the Monarchs can't. Without it, there'd be no Monarchs. But I'm not a farmer. Or a Monarch for that matter, (although I am Queen of the House...in my own mind anyway). I guess it's all about perspective. It's often said, "it's only a weed unless you don't want it there". I don't remember all the particulars, but I recently read about a law somewhere in Canada that stated something to the effect that it was illegal to destroy milkweed (because the Monarch population is becoming threatened) unless it was an agricultural nuisance. Your compost sounds like wonderful stuff! Hope your next gardening season is as productive and pest-free as this past one. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your day!

nebraska dave
10/14/2010 7:07:23 PM

@Cindy, it must be a riot living in your family. Your hubby needs to get a star award for saving the day. When bugs invade your plants, who ya gona call? Milkweed is another of those nasty farm weeds that we could do without. They rate right up there with the cocklebur, morning glory, and wild sunflower. Back when I had my farm experience, it was my job to walk the corn rows with a corn knife and chop the weeds out of the corn. Thank goodness it was only 80 acres and not 2000 like farms of today. It sure would build up the leg muscles walking all day in the soft dirt of a corn field. I don’t know that we really did anything about bugs. Some years we won and some years the bugs won. It wasn’t like now when any bad year means sudden death to the farming operation. I personally don’t worry about bugs. I try to keep my plants as healthy as I can and pray that the balance of nature will bring the best mix of good bugs and bad bugs. For the last three years of gardening, I haven’t had a bug problem. But then I start with eight inches of fresh still steaming composted soil in the spring. There’s no chance of left over bug eggs in the soil when I begin spring planting. I saw just a few holes in the potato plants this year but nothing to be concerned about. It didn’t seem to have really caused any damage to the plants at all. Have great bug free day.

cindy murphy
10/14/2010 7:35:15 AM

You are a brave soul, Shannon; I'm a wimp. I must admit I get kind of squeamish at the thought of squishing, which is why I use either the cut and drown, or the pluck and drown method. A couple of weeks ago, I found the biggest, fattest tomato hornworm I've ever had the displeasure of seeing. Although the tomatoes still on the vine here probably won't ripen before the plants die, I felt the need to pluck....but no way was I going to squish that big old, fat juicy thing! I stuck it under a glass vase that happened to be sitting on the porch, and hoped it would spontaneously combust in the sun....or to keep it contained and let Hubs do the squishing duties. Which he did...but not before I had some fun scaring Shelby with it. It's so fun having bugs and teenagers in the same vicinity.

s.m.r. saia
10/14/2010 7:03:04 AM

Cindy, thanks for this informative and, as usual, witty post. Great pictures, especially those caterpillars. Your pictures of the milkweed bugs reminded me of a photo I took of a brussels sprout stalk crawling with harlequin bugs - alas, not so harmless to the plants. I found a few on my broccoli yesterday and had to smush, since I've seen what happens when I let them go. They may not take over the world, by they can sure take over a garden row! That said, I have no problem with eating Swiss chard with a few bug holes in it. :0)

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