Routt County It should be no surprise that garden pesticides are not safe; they are produced specifically to be toxic to something. In addition, they may pose risks to the public or the environment. That is why the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the use of pesticides through specific laws and regulations.
One of the great benefits of living in Routt County is that our climate is not very friendly to a lot of the garden pests that plague our gardening buddies at lower elevations.
That means there is not a lot of need for garden pesticides here, and often we can find other ways to deal with pests than chemical warfare.
Most insects found in the garden, like a common ladybug, do not feed on or harm plants. Many are just passing through or have very innocuous habits. Others feed on and destroy pest species. In many cases the activities of these beneficial species can completely prevent or greatly limit pest problems. It's important to know these beneficial bugs so they may be appreciated and conserved.
However, if you decide to attack a pest problem with a chemical toxin, follow these basic steps:
n Carefully choose the right pesticide product with the help of your cooperative extension agent, local pesticide dealer, relevant state agency, or a local master gardener.
n Read the product label, which includes ingredients, warnings, precautions, directions for use, first aid instructions, and storage and disposal directions.
n Apply the pesticide only where the label says it can be applied
n Determine the right amount to be purchased; doing so may preclude storage and thus potential environmental hazards.
n Use the product safely and correctly in accordance with the very specific directions provided. Do not change the recommended amount.
n If it is necessary to store or dispose of pesticides, do it properly by following instructions on the label exactly.
n Above all, read the labels on pesticides. Pesticide containers are clearly marked, in addition to application instructions, with the words "danger," meaning highly poisonous; "warning," moderately hazardous; and "caution," least hazardous. Those marked with "restricted use" require formal training and applicator certification.
If all of these precautions scare you, the use of naturally occurring pesticides is an option. In some cases, these pesticides can be less toxic.
Two natural insecticides commonly used by organic gardeners are sabadilla and pyrethrum; these are both plant products with low toxicity. However, these should also be used in strict accordance with directions on the container label. Other options include biological, mechanical, and cultural controls.
"Service In Action" information sheets are available through the CSU Cooperative Extension Service describing spray oils, insect control (SIA Nos, 5.569,5.573); pest control in organic gardens, soap and detergent insect control (SIA Nos. 7.218, 5.547 and 2.945); and many other relevant subjects.
Maury Bunn is a Routt County resident and a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office in Routt County. Questions and topic suggestions for this column may be submitted directly to the CSU Cooperative Extension office at 879-0825 or you may email your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org