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Click here for Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principle 6When it comes to pest management, nature takes care of itself! Misused pesticides in your yard can run off into waterways and harm beneficial insects. Learn to identify beneficial insects and let them do the work for you. If pesticides are needed, choose the least-toxic pesticides, such as horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps and Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). Remember, low levels of pests will do minimal damage, so be tolerant!

Talk to your exterminator and garden center rep.

Telling your exterminator that you care about a more natural method of pest management is probably one of the fastest ways to make changes in your landscape. Simply switching to less toxic products will make a huge difference, and sometimes all it takes is a quick phone call or conversation. If your exterminator does not offer alternative pesticides, ask him to try them out, or consider contracting with a service that does. If you do your pest management by yourself, talk to your garden center salesperson about gentler products. They are widely available. IN either case, you should not see increases in your cost to manage garden pests.

Try hand pruning.

Walk your landscape regularly and get up close and personal with the plants. Turn over leaves and look at the undersides. Examine branches and tree trunks. Poke around in the soil. If you see an isolated case of harmful pests, try clipping the affected part of the plant to see if that solves the problem. Especially with young trees, sometimes plucking a few leaves every few days is enough to keep a problem controlled. 

Get to know the good guys.

Not all bugs are bad. In fact, some are essential for pollination and actually for the health of your plants. Take a few minutes and learn to identify beneficial bugs so that you don't accidentally do away with them. To get started, watch an interesting video presentation called Good Lawn Bugs by Dr. Jennifer Gillett from the University of Florida's Integrated Pest Management program. It has actually been created for professionals in the industry, so share it with your exterminator, but it is also easy to understand and very informative.

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From Florida Friendly Living: Managing Yard Pests Responsibly

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