DONíT BE BUGGED*

Almost all insects are essential to our survival, according to Stuart B. Hill, PhD, associate professor of entomology at McGill University, Quebec. "Only 0.1 percent are pests, 99.9 percent being neutral in their effects or essential to our survival as pollinators, decomposers, regulators of pests, and as food for other beneficial animals such as many fish and birds."


"Only 0.1 percent are pests, 99.9 percent being neutral in their effects or essential to our survival as pollinators, decomposers, regulators of pests, and as food for other beneficial animals such as many fish and birds."


Dr. Hill believes that "pests are not the causes of the problems but rather the symptoms of badly designed, mismanaged, or malfunctioning gardens, farms, or forests." The solution, therefore, is not to zap or spray, but to work toward a healthy soil and healthy plants, using good planting designs and sound ecologically safe management. Maintaining a healthy soil means regularly adding organic matter such as compost. Planting times should be chosen "so that they donít coincide with the occurrence of potential pests, e.g., by delaying planting of carrots by two or three weeks, attack by carrot rust fly can be avoided." Use pesticides and herbicides, he says, only "if you can justify their use to those you love most in the world, and to your childrenís children."

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* Hill, Stuart B., "Responsible Pest Control in Gardens and Homes," Ecological Agriculture Projects, Macdonald College of McGill University.

Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XII, No. 4, Fall 1987, page 1.