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Re: Ferns List is OK--back to fern topics?

  • Subject: Re: [ferns] Ferns List is OK--back to fern topics?
  • From: xfaberman@sprynet.com
  • Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2003 23:33:10 -0500

> Let me set a good example...my major pest in my ferns
> are brown scale insects.  I'm greatly opposed to pesticides
> as my facility is for students.  And ferns I find have very high
> responses to pesticides in terms of phytotoxicity (leaf browning,
> bleaching, etc.)  Water blasts do help knock down on the
> adults.  But does anyone have a better suggestion that
> avoids toxicity?  Even Safer's soap seems to have a negative
> effect on many of our ferns.

Send a sample of the scale to your state agricultural department for
exact identification and then research the availability of biological
controls available for that particular species of scale. Or use an
extremely low toxicity insecticide such as imidacloprid (it is extremely
effective against scales, aphids, whiteflies and mealy bugs, including
the dreaded root mealy bugs that do so much damage below ground, but its
mode of action is such that it is essentially non-toxic to mammals,
including, of course, human beings since human beings are mammals). If
you are put off by chemicals, bear in mind that imidacloprid is
chemically similar to nicotine, a "natural" plant toxin. However, it has
two big differences from nicotine: (1) it is far more toxic to insects
than nicotine and (2) it is far less toxic to mammals than nicotine.

If even extremely low toxicity insecticides are objectionable and no
biological controls are available, you are pretty much out of luck.
Plants have been eaten by insects for millions of years and one of their
most common defenses against insects is...toxins. If there was an
effective method of dealing with insects that didn't involve toxins,
plants would have evolved such a method by now.

Kind regards,

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