Early detection: Your first level of defence

As the number of people in the world grows, demand for safe and healthy food increases. At the same time, food growers are increasingly required to follow a sustainable approach to pest management that causes minimal damage to plants and soil, and offers better protection to beneficial insects.

It’s not as simple as it sounds – but if you like to know exactly what’s been used on your plants and veggies, growing your own is the best place to start. That’s where the Insect Science® Home and Garden range comes in, using a Responsible Pest Management (RPM) approach to control pests in a more sustainable way.

The first step is to know your pest, in order to ensure that you take the right action at the right time. This means that you can proactively work to limit damage by harmful insects before they become an infestation.

Sucking pests are generally small, making it tricky for gardeners to identify and manage them, so a bit of help can be extremely useful. Among the tools that form part of the RPM arsenal are Blue and Yellow Sticky Cards that act as your first level of defence and can be essential in the early detection and control of many species of flying pests.

The specific blue and yellow hues used on the sticky cards have been proven to influence pest behaviour – attracting and catching them to keep them away from your plants before they mate and start a new generation, and thus preventing them from doing further damage.

Did you know?

Counting the insects captured on a sticky card helps gardeners to make good pest-management decisions. The number of pests caught indicates the presence of pests, how fast their population is growing, and when it starts to decline. It’s an excellent tool to help you identify and prepare for potential pest threats.

The yellow colour is highly attractive to sucking pests such as Whiteflies, Leaf hoppers, Fungus gnats and Aphids; while blue cards attract Thrips. Best of all, Blue and Yellow Sticky Cards leave no residue on your edibles and are super easy to use.

Using sticky traps

  • Tall crops such as cucumber, tomato and pepper: position traps just above the top of the plant and adjust as they grow.
  • Low canopy crops such as leafy greens and cabbages: install traps above the crop and support with wire holders.
  • Seedlings: use plastic forks to place traps close to ground to catch those pests that pupate in the ground and then fly to their food source as adults.
  • Place near new growth: the tender young leaves are delicious! 
  • Remove traps when significant numbers of flying pests are caught.

Sticky cards work in your garden too

Using pest management products that follow nature’s ways and don’t lead to increased resistance makes sense not only in your veggie patch, but in your garden too.

One common garden pest is Aphids, which come in a variety of colours and attack a large number of plant species. They love roses and cause damage by feeding on the leaves, stems and buds, piercing the plant tissue and sucking out sap. They feed in groups on new plant growth or on leaf undersides and cause stem tips, new leaves and buds to be curled and distorted. Aphids find yellow sticky cards particularly appealing because they know that when plants are stressed, their leaves and stems turn yellow, attracting insect pests when their natural defenses are weak.

Thrips (and Western Flower Thrips in particular) also have a particular liking for roses, leaving the flower buds discoloured and silver lines on the leaves. These minute, yellow-brown insects attack a wide range of garden plants and crops across South Africa. They can carry viruses and cause significant damage. They are more strongly attracted to blue than to other colours and are visually attracted to the sticky cards, which capture them on the surface, enabling growers to monitor their presence.

You can shop the The Insect Science® Home and Garden range online at www.shop.insectscience.co.za. If you aren’t sure which product to buy, check out the handy pest identification pages to help you discover which insects could be causing the damage to your garden, and the best products to use to target them. 

The Gardener