The Green Thumb: Easy cures for what bugs gardeners
by Sue Davis / For the Tracy Press
May 17, 2012 | 1917 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I’ve been outside every day pampering the seeds and tender new plants I’ve added to my garden. Lately, I’ve noticed irregular holes with smooth edges in the leaves of some of my plants, seedlings with all or part of their leaves and stems missing, and bites taken out of my strawberries.

It appears that snails and earwigs have found my garden and are enjoying my efforts more than I am at the moment.

If these pests are “bugging” you, too, a few easy steps will help you reclaim your garden.

Management of snails and earwigs relies on using several methods combined. Both pests like to hide during the heat of the day in areas that are both shady and moist. Picking up loose boards, unused pots and any leaf or plant debris should be your first step.

Use a flashlight after dark to find and handpick snails daily. After the population has declined, handpick weekly.

Several snail bait products are available that are toxic to snails and slugs. Iron phosphate baits — available under trade names including Sluggo and Escar-Go — are safe for use around children and domestic animals.

Earwigs can be trapped in tightly rolled newspaper and then shaken out into soapy water the next morning to control their numbers.

My favorite trapping ideas are a beer-baited trap to catch and drown snails and a tuna fish can with half an inch of tuna oil (or vegetable oil with a drop of bacon grease) to catch and drown earwigs.

I think I’ll have a tuna sandwich and a bottle of beer while I watch my garden grow.

There is more complete information on these pests — and many others that may be “bugging” you — at

• The Green Thumb is a column by Tracy’s master gardeners. University of California-certified master gardeners will answer questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or
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May 19, 2012
Why not just grab a commercial insecticide? Its much less work and they work great. I personally like the OSH branded one. Every so often in the summer I start getting roaches in the yard and, unfortunately, a very small number in the house. I douse the yard with one or two treatments of the commercial insecticide and viola, in a day or two there are a dozen dead or dying roaches lying around the yard. Also works on snails, ants, fleas and every other damn bug.

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