Lake Mohawk resident Emily McGuckin, AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador for the Wallkill River Watershed, presented a series of webinars about caring for our lakes over the summer. Thank you, Emily, for teaching others to be stewards of their environment. Emily is an active participant at our board meetings.
The lakes are an extension of our yards. Consider organic and natural control of pests in your yard and gardens. Be judicious in spraying for mosquitos as sprays also kill butterflies and other desirable species. Birds and bats will catch mosquito and other insects. Swallows like open land and lakefront areas. Build a swallow house on your lakefront or near lakefront property-you won’t be disappointed! Information on bird and bat houses can be found online.
Traps, soap and oil sprays, and natural organisms can be effective against many pests. Pheramone traps are available to attract damaging moths and their larvae or caterpillars. Sticky Traps are another style of pest control. You can buy packaged sticky traps or you can make them yourself. They trap based on pests attraction to color. Yellow traps attract a variety of whiteflies, male winged scales, leafhoppers, fungus gnats, mealybugs, leafminers, thrips, and winged aphids. White traps lure whiteflies, plant bugs, cucumber beetles, and flea beetles. Light blue traps and red spheres also attract species.
Insecticidal soap and horticultural oils are virtually nontoxic to mammals and safe to beneficial insects. They are highly effective against mites, aphids, whiteflies, and other soft-bodied insects as well as the softer nymph stages of some tough-bodied bugs. They only work when wet. A variety of products are on the market. Read the label and apply as directed.
Microbial insecticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) and parasitic nematodes are valuable because they are very safe to use. There are many different types of microbial insecticides, and some can be used to kill a specific insect or class of insects. BT controls caterpillars, including cabbage loopers, tomato hornworms, cabbageworms, corn earworms, European corn borers, and squash vine borers. Nematodes attack and invade armyworms, corn earworms, squash vine borers, soil-dwelling grubs (including Japanese beetle larvae), weevils, root maggots, and cutworms (in their soil-dwelling stages). Be sure to read the label on microbial insecticides to make sure the formula lists the pest you wish to control. Some can kill bees and ladybugs so be careful using them on flowers.
Minerals like boric acid, sulfur and kaolin clay have their uses as insecticides both in the garden and in the home. Always read labels before applying. Not all natural insecticides are harmless to humans. Attracting beneficial insects to your garden with flowers is another suggestion for reducing the need for insecticides. Rutgers has some information about natural gardening and landscaping at https://njaes.rutgers.edu/organic/