Now let's talk a little about pest controls. Its helpful to think of pest control as a series of logical steps.
You may have heard of IPM, or Integrated Pest Management. This is a philosophy in which pests are managed, not wiped out. It involves a number of different approaches to pest control -- as opposed to automatically reaching for the spray can as soon as a pest is encountered. IPM can be broken down into three steps: prevention, monitoring, and controls.
1. Sometimes you can use barriers to exclude pests. For example, row covers can be used to exclude cabbage loopers, copper strips form a barrier to slugs and snails, and bird netting protects ripening fruit.
3. Hand-picking can keep certain insects populations in check. Learn to recognize pests' eggs and larvae and destroy them. You can use a spray of water from the hose to dislodge pests such as aphids from sturdy plants.
4. Trapping can sometimes be an effective, non-toxic way to control pests. For example, slug traps can significantly reduce their numbers. Two cautions: be wary of poisonous slug and ant baits and avoid using traps that lure insects, especially Japanese beetle traps. These can sometimes draw even more of the insects into your yard.
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