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Integrated Pest Management: Monitoring

Integrated Pest Management: Monitoring

One of the best strategies you can use to manage pests is monitoring. With accurate monitoring you can identify and mitigate pest problems on your trees and other plants in your yard. A pest can be classified as any insect, disease or weed that has a significant impact on human health or crops.

Proper monitoring involves a few key elements. You need to know the plant species you are dealing with, also be familiar with or research which pest problems the plant is most likely to have, including pest life cycles. Now you know what to keep an eye out for.  Identification of the pest is really important because there are many insects that are either beneficial or benign. Some insects only cause cosmetic damage to trees, the tree will not die from the insect causing a little bit of damage. Now we are getting into pest thresholds which can be covered in a different article. Most spray insecticides are non selective which means they kill all of the good bugs with the bad bugs.

Ideally monitoring for pests should be done early and frequently throughout the year. Early observation will allow you to catch pest populations and implement any control measures if required before you see significant damage to your plant. Early detection and control can also help prevent minor infestations from becoming severe infestations.  

You should also monitor regularly throughout the season, if you are not familiar with what plant you have or which insects to look for keep an eye on the overall vigor of the plant. A great time and schedule to follow for monitoring would be while weeding or watering the garden and yard. Besides monitoring do what you can to keep your tree healthy with regular watering and fertilizing if the plant is showing signs of deficiency. The words plant and tree are being intermixed in this article because monitoring for pests and integrated pest management applies to all plants especially food crops including trees.

Some useful tools used for monotiring include a magnifying glass and a keen eye with attention to detail. One of our favorite tools to use to check for insects like mites, aphids and other small insects is a sheet of paper. Shake a branch over a sheet of paper to observe if any critters end up on the paper. Keep an eye on the underside of leaves and at leaf/stem intersections as many insects like to hide in these areas.

DIY Dormant Oil Treatment

DIY Dormant Oil Treatment

Oystershell scale is affecting many cotoneaster hedges throughout the city of Calgary. We have also seen this insect pest affect; apples, mountain ash and hawthorn trees.  In most cases if an infested hedge looks like it’s dead or dying, rejuvenation and post application of oil and monitoring are required.  Prior to application carefully examine your tree or shrub to identify the target pest or problem.  Most spray insecticides are non-selective and will also kill beneficial insects. Dormant oil must be applied early in the spring prior to leaf out. The reason applications must be made while trees and shrubs are dormant is that the product will cause damage to the leaves. Never spray on evergreens as this will cause permanent damage and sometimes discoloration of blue species.

A few exceptions are Pure Spray Green because the product label states that application is safe on leafed out plants, the next exception would be on a cotoneaster hedge that has been freshly rejuvenated. When applying make sure that you coat every portion of the plant until the product begins dripping off of the plant being treated. This assures that you get all of the insect shells covered with the insecticide. Make sure to read and follow the product label and wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

You will need

Dormant oil kit1 Hose, you probably already have one if not get a professional non kink hose they’re worth every penny

2 Dial calibrated hose end sprayer +/- $20

3 Horticultural oil or Dormant oil or Pure Spray Green +/-$20



Application Instructions

1 Read labels

2 Wear personal protective equipment (plastic dish gloves, eye protection, hat, clothes to cover your skin)

3 Set the dial to 20 on the hose end sprayer and fill it with the oil

4 Thouroughly spray the plant until every portion is covered

5 Continue monitoring pest activity and reapply if required when plants return to a dormant state

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