Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pesticide safety

I'm (largely) in the 'just say no' category when it comes to pesticides. 

Yes, we've used a systemic to protect our Eastern hemlocks from woolly adelgids (only once so far), but that's the only pesticide that I can remember using personally (we have sprayed yellowjacket nests, too, now that I think about it).   We've used a herbicide, glyphosate, on Bermuda grass and poison ivy, too, to be complete. No sprays inside or outside the house (hmm, roach and ant baits at times, I guess).

But, I was alarmed at a call yesterday on our statewide gardening call-in program about caterpillars on horseradish.  He said that the caterpillars had pretty much defoliated it.  So he sprayed a pesticide.  The remaining leaf tissue didn't look so good. What to do? 

Yikes.  I asked what he sprayed, first of all, thinking what sort of caterpillar eats horseradish? He said a pesticide, and I asked again 'what kind'?  Diazinon, he said.

Alarmed, I said that I hoped that he wasn't planning to use the horseradish as an edible, mentally trying to remember what diazinon USED to be applied to control (it's been banned for homeowner use since 2004).  I don't think it was for caterpillars.

My colleagues and I try to be encouraging to callers, but this was a 'teachable moment' and I suggested that he needed to dispose of this pesticide as hazardous waste, ASAP.  Fortunately, he was growing horseradish as an ornamental plant.

He took my cautionary 'scolding' quite well  (I reminded him about reading the labels on pesticides and herbicides; there's a reason that we have them!) 

And I was glad that our statewide audience could be reminded that it's important to look at the detailed information on labels of whatever garden 'product' that you use.


  1. Teachable moments can be tricky to navigate. I am glad this went so well.

  2. I need to remember to listen to the radio show. Good teachable moments. stop by my latest posting to see some interesting native finds along the shoreline!

  3. I "host" a beehive at a friend's house, and recently some idiot came into her back yard and (presumably) sprayed her hive with insecticide. Thousands of bees killed. It was awful. Luckily, with a little help from us, the bees seem to be rebounding.

  4. I'm thinking that teachable moments are golden.

    The amount of pesticides and herbicides that folks unwittingly put on their gardens and landscapes (unnecessarily) is remarkable. It speaks to how much we need to teach, and learn.


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