Winter pest control…safe for people, not for pests

The cold may have sent garden pests into hiding, but as it gets warmer they make a beeline for leafy new growth and flowers.

It is scary how quickly pests can chomp through a veggie patch or decimate spring flowering clivia. No one wants to put down poison, especially in homes with children and pets.

Fortunately, there are biological and organic solutions that make pest control safe for people, but not for pests.

Worm infested clivia?

With spring just over a month away, clivia will be getting ready to flower. These beautiful, indigenous flowers are perfect for shady gardens and need hardly any care. Unfortunately, they are the main food source for the amaryllis borer, a black and yellow banded caterpillar, and there are no natural predators.

If not eradicated the larvae burrow into the bulbs and kills the plant. The larvae enter and feed on the leaves, make visible tunnels on the leaves. In warmer areas the moths lay their eggs on the clivia all year round.

The solution for these pests is Margaret Roberts Biological Insecticide. It is a water dispersible granular microbial insecticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, for the control of caterpillar species.

  • Spray the leaves in late afternoon or early evening when the caterpillars are feeding. It is not necessary to spray the larvae.
  • Spray every seven to 14 days to break the life cycle of the larvae and prevent them from maturing.
  • When young active feeding larvae eat the treated foliage, they stop feeding within a day or so. They may hang from the leaves before rotting and dropping to the ground. Birds can safely eat the treated caterpillars -dead or alive!
  • Two applications per month until March will provide maximum protection for the clivia and other lilies.

Aphids are quick to feed on sprouting new growth.

Aphids and caterpillars spoiling your cabbages and kale?

The Margaret Roberts Biological Insecticide also controls cabbage caterpillars, semi-loopers (that have a looping motion) and Diamondback moth caterpillars. Look out for holes in the leaves and droppings. Apply twice a month for as long as necessary.

Aphids are another pest that targets cabbages and other leafy winter veggies. If not treated early, aphids can form dense colonies inside cabbage heads, making them inedible.

Aphids also congregate on the underside of kale and lettuce leaves. They suck water and nutrients from the leaves, resulting in stunted or deformed leaves. More seriously, aphids act as virus vectors and can introduce diseases like lettuce mosaic.

An organic solution is Ludwig’s Insect Spray, that is a contact pesticide with minimal impact on the environment and is safe for people and pets, but not fish. Its combination of canola oil, garlic and natural pyrethrum repels or controls aphids that attack brassicas, especially cabbages and kale.

Spray every five to seven days for best results. Because the natural pyrethrum in Ludwig’s Insect Spray has a residual action of maximum 24 hours after application, it is best to wait 24 hours before eating sprayed vegetables.

Check for caterpillars on the underside of leaves.

Mealy bug making a meal of the roses and fruit trees?

Another use for Ludwig’s Insect Spray is for pruned roses and fruit trees that suffered from insect infestations during summer. This will kill off over wintering stages of insects like scale, red spider mite and mealy bug.

The peak period for aphids, however, is spring, or as temperatures begin to rise and plants put out new, sweet, and tasty growth. Be prepared by having Ludwig’s Insect Spray on hand for immediate application to nip the problem in the bud.

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Safe for people and pets: Margaret Roberts Biological Insecticide.


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