Is there an effective general purpose insecticide, fungicide, miticide that
will get most of those rascals out there? It is troublesome to spray for all
those critters separately. I am pretty sure I've got them all.
Bad idea. Without insects, you wouldn't get any fruit, squash, peppers,
cucumbers, etc. (Tomatoes and corn are wind pollinated.) The bees in
this country have enough problems with natural predators without having
to worry about people spraying their space indiscriminately.
Some fungi protect plants against other diseases. There are predatory
mites that protect plants against other insects.
A much better approach would be to understand what is going on in your
garden. When you have a problem, address that problem specifically and
in such a way as not to generate more problems.
To answer your specific question: no, there is no general purpose
substance that will eliminate the rascals without also eliminating the
Walter R. wrote:
if you dont know what you have or if you have it, then no. there is no
"general insecticide" because different insects require different
control. It dosent make sense to spray for mites unless you have
them, since you will harm the beneficial mites. "im pretty sure ive
got them all" isnt a good argument, you need to know what the problem
is. The doctor wouldnt give you a general medicine and say, well, you
could have the flu, or maybe a cold, or maybe pnuemonia, but this will
take care of whatever you have would they? This is why you cant buy
very many chemicals anymore, homeowners who have no idea what they are
doing just spray everything they can get thier hands on with little
understanding of what they are actually doing. On a final note, we
only have one earth, spraying mass amounts of chemicals will not help
to preserve it.
I'm aware of the dangers inherent in driving my car or riding my
motorcycle, too. That doesn't stop me from doing so. Nor of having an
almost perfect driving record for 55 years (a couple of speeding
Your attitude strikes me as fanatical. There are times when pesticides
are called for. And different compounds used have greatly varying
For example, Sevin, which is quite toxic, is the only thing I've found
that will knock out elm beetle grubs before they deleaf my elm trees. I
wear coveralls and a respirator when I use it, usually once a year.
Malathion, OTOH, is relatively inoucous and I use it to kill thrips and
aphids on my rose bushes and Japanese honeysuckle with short sleeves, no
gloves, and no respirator.
I realize this won't convince you, but I wanted to make others aware
that not all of us are environmental fanatics or, on the other side,
reckless rednecks who spray evrything in sight with the deadliest stuff
we can find. So that's all I'm going to say on the subject.
What convinces me is stories such as you tell of always needing so always
using all sorts of toxins for all sorts of garden problems. i never use
them, never need them. My elms are healthy, the roses are healthy, the
honeysuckles are healthy, never been assaulted by thrips, have gotten rid
of aphids with nothing more than a couple drops of dishwashing soap in a
gallon of water, sometimes just with the water. Why is that my garden does
fabulously & never requires ME to get a respirator, moon suit, & five
kinds of toxins to spray about? God loves me but hates you? I'm lucky,
you're not? Or are we both experiencing the results of our own actions?
It's quite clear that chemical dependency breeds chemical dependency by
throwing gardens completely out of balance. The longer one gardens
organically, the better that semblance of natural balance that could never
be sustained in a soup of recurring toxic assaults.
Chemical-dependent gardens are perpetually stressed from being perpetually
out of wack. Toxins have killed so many beneficial insects & soil
microorganisms & so weakened the plantlife that all such a gardener can
do is try to patch over the damage with the same array of toxins that
caused the damage.
Thrips tend to be a greater problem where beneficial insects have been
removed from the environment -- predator insects are always slower to
return than are pests, so pests return rapidly & further toxification is
undertaken before even the slightest semblance of balance can be restored.
And anyone who thinks they need malathion for aphids just isn't thinking
about these things rationally; it's like if an itchy toe could be fixed by
scratching it for a couple seconds, & you decide to bang on it with a
sledgehammer as the best line of defense. I have to assume the other
chemical decisions were as unsoundly based, because the rational you've
dismissed as radical. You posit a worst-case scenario of thrips stripping
elms, yet you can't kill elm thrips without also killing a whole array of
beneficial insects thus making the environment MORE inviting to thrips for
the next cycle. The LASTING method of thrip control is with predatory
mites, soil mites, lady beetles, & nematodes -- but everytime you toxify
the environment instead, you destroy a dozen beneficial components of the
environment sledgehammering the one harmful pest, thus causing the
problems to escalate year by year rather than diminish.
It's amazing to me that people in love with their toxic methods call those
of us who don't use toxins "radical," yet you keep getting pests in your
garden while I do not. If there were legitimately a problem in my garden
that only synthetic toxins had any chance of taking care of, I would
consider that option, but I've gardened since the 1960s & over time even
the "exceptions" I once thought were necessary were not exceptions at all.
An organically balanced garden is a healthy garden. A chemical-dependent
garden is not. It sometimes takes more patience with organic methods -- in
three years it is possible by biological means to get rid of Japanese
beetles once & for all, but people who prefer toxins will be using them
forever annually patching over a problem that will never cease.
To me you sound like the radical, not because you require toxins so much
as you require blinders. You believe you can't get rid of aphids without
synthetic pesticides, so why is that I can do so very easily. You have
harmful pests that you believe cannot be controlled without harsh
pesticides, but I have so few harmful pests that their damage, if any, is
never visible. You have to spray your shrubs & trees because they are
attacked by pests & disease, but mine are neither diseased nor infested
though I do not spray even with organically approved pesticides let alone
the nastiest stuff you rely on. Why would your garden be so doomed without
annual applications of sundry toxins, but mine thrives without them? I
don't believe I'm just lucky & you're cursed by God; their are rational
reasons for my not having the problems that afflict your garden, & those
reasons are methological.
You've made an emotional or political decision (rather than a reasoned or
scientific one) to dismiss effective methods as "radical" if they do not
require toxins. And so yhou put on your moonsuit & respirator to take care
of problems that keep recurring because of your actions. That's very much
like banging your head into a wall & when you discover your head is
injured, bang it a second, third, & fourth time, never realizing the
problems are returning because of, not in spite of, your actions.
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
away and I did nothing. The elm leaves were nothing but ribs. Then a
systemic was applied. It worked, but I thought it was overkill. The
next year I did nothing again, and again I had ribs for leaves. Since
then I've watched for the first ones to appear - they overwinter in the
ground (maybe as eggs) and emerge along about now - I'd better remember
So I waited for mother nature to solve the problem - didn't work. Sevin
does. That's good enough for me.
BTW, I use absolutely no chemicals on my vegetable garden other than
Miracle Grow. In that case the benefits aren't worth the risk.
We can have this argument forever. I'll never convince you that
different situations require different solutions (pun intended) and
you'll never convince me that chemicals are the work of the devil. So
that's the end of it for me.
I never should have made the original post - I knew what the response
Bingo! You're just like me, then. So, before you call me a fanatic, you
should read the entire discussion from the beginning. The OP asked a
question which reveals total lack of experience or knowledge. From his
question, we had no choice but to assume that he wanted to spray food crops
as well as ornamentals. I cannot prove that this was the case, nor can you
disprove it. But, everyone knows people who see (or hear) only the word(s)
they were looking for (such as "sure", or "yep - go ahead", don't listen to
or read the rest, and run right out the door to buy armloads of whatever
they were asking about.
In such cases, the only proper response is to jackknife a tractor trailor in
the middle of the conversation, spur a debate, and hope the OP will read it
Is there an effective general purpose insecticide, fungicide, miticide
that will get most of those rascals out there? It is troublesome to
spray for all those critters separately. I am pretty sure I've got
Eh, not that you even care. The elm leaf beetle is controlled by Bacillus
thuringiensis ssp tenebrionis, beneficial insects, & even with seaweed
spray. You elect instead a method that kills the natural controlling
agents, thus harming the entire localized ecosystem, in the long run
worsening the condition you misguidedly assaulted, because harmful pests
re-establish theiur populations MUCH faster than do predatory insects
which will only return after their prey re-establishes itself. So its no
wonder you have these problems. Whether for thrips or beetles, the reality
is the same: chemical dependency breeds chemical dependency -- in stressed
& unhealthy gardens.
The bacillus can permanently retard beetle populations keeping their
populations indefinitely in decline so that the need to fight them becomes
lessoned year by year, & the temptation to use toxins eventually reduced
It can take three years to stop the problem entirely then it may never
need to be done again. The impatient might in the meantime want to use
organic approved pyrethrum & isopropyl alcohol, or a fish emulsion or
seaweed spray or horticultural oil for added boost without killing off all
the beneficial insect population. When you insist your only choice is a
moon-suit, respirator, & toxins that kill everything in their path, you
only guarantee that the problems you admit to having recur year after year
will continue to recur year after year.
The bacillus HAS to be the subspecies tenebrionis which targets elm
beetles especially well; the caterpilar Bt doesn't do it. Btt kills elm
beetles without harming the natural predetors of elm beetles. For so long
as you insist in YOUR kneejerk way that your only option is to use methods
that simultaneously kill the beneficial insect population, the beetles
But you've made it clear you couldn't care less.
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
This requires a thinking process which extends beyond 15 minutes. Not
applicable in many cases. :-) Bugs cause people to become irrational. People
will plant trees, knowing full well they may take 5 years to look good.
They'll slowly put away $$$ for retirement or their kids' college. They'll
budget 3 years out to buy a boat or a bunch of woodworking equipment. All
require long term thinking, and patience.
But, unfortunately, certain organic bug control methods seem to have
emotional alarms attached to them. So, even if you show people 10 ag college
studies indicating that Bt works nicely (but takes longer than 3 days), they
simply shut down and won't consider it. The bugs must vanish NOW. And,
anyone who suggests completely effective non-chem alternative is a
According to our guvmint, about 25% of non-organic farmers are behaving like
tree-hugging fanatics whenever possible. The reason is simple: Unlike some
of the air-head home gardeners who think they're "informed" because they
read the back of the Ortho container, farmers HAVE to read in order to stay
For those too lazy to look, here's a quote or two:
Regulatory Status: Malathion is a slightly toxic compound in EPA
toxicity class III. Labels for products containing
it must carry the Signal Word CAUTION.
Effects of malathion are similar to those observed with other
organophosphates, except that
larger doses are required to produce them [2,8].
Extoxnet is funded by Monsanto & other chemical companies in the US &
Canada, so it is the first source of info for people who want the best
possible spin or wish to ignore the full scope of the issues.
And are you aware that the EPA by law is not permitted to include in their
assessments the proven hazards of the break-down metabolites which are
more hazardous than the parent chemicals?
What Extoxnet likes to ignore are such EPA statements as (from the EPA
website itself): "There is insufficient scientific evidence to assess the
potential for causing cancer in humans."
When Dr Harold T. Smith, senior project leader with the Animal & Plant
Health Inspection Service of the USDA, announced that the EPA was
considering changing Malthion's status because the best studies indicate
it to be carcinogenic, behind the scenes political pressures were soon
brought to bear against the EPA (in the current Republican climate of
"industry profits before public health") so that when the EPA made the
report Dr Smith had prematurely announced, the warnings were rendered
tepid, such as "There is evidence of carcinogicity."
The EPA in the long run decided not to recategorize this pesticide as more
than moderately dangerous even while acknowledging the validity of the
research done by people like Dr. Jerry Reeves at David Grant Medical
Center Travis Air Force Base, which concluded Malathion causes aplastic
anemia & childhood leukemia from exposures lasting for as brief a time as
two minutes, concluding in fact that "all cases" scene in an eight year
period were caused by malathion & propoxur. All cases.
THe EPA decided it was only a Category III risk even while acknowledging
the research of Dr. Albright & his team at St. Luke's Hospital Kidney
Center in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, which established that LOW levels of
malathion exposure cause kidney failure in humans. THe manufacturer had
already admnitted LOW exposures had caused kidney failure in animals but
insisted no such study proved this was a risk for humans. Albright's
published case proved otherwise, & he was very certain, LOW exposure, one
time, of household use, was the cause of kidney failure.
The EPA was pressured into lending small weight to the St Luke Hospital
findings because it was definitively true of only one case. So too the EPA
which does not often consider research done in Europe failed to give any
weight to Erasmus University research of Dr. Lindhout which established
that use during pregnancy of malathion in a headlouse shampoo caused birth
defects reesulting in infant paralysis. But the manufacturer denies
malthion per se was the cause, because what really causes birth defects is
a metabolite produced by the liver from malathion. The EPA decided not to
include in their assessment the harmful effects of any breakdown chemical
or metabolite, though not denying the validity of the findings that low
level malathion exposure during early pregnancy is the source of the
metabolite that causes infant paralysis.
The final wishywashy warnings the EPA ended up with in their final
document were softened but still alarming in parts, but it was regarded as
a political victory at Drexel Chemical. Not a scientific victory.
In the end a political decision was made: the threat from West Nile Virus
vs a few paralyzed children fell in favor of malthion. The economic harm
from medflies to citrus crops was found to be a bigger financial hit than
the medical costs of childhood leukemias & elder kidney failures. Remember
these are only the risks for LOW level exposures when used as directed.
An animal modeled study in Finland ran some of the same tests for which
the chemical industry liked the outcomes. They made change. They used
older adult rats instead of young rats. They discovered that allegedly
safe levels of malathion cause serious brain damage, & they concluded that
government safety boundaries based on what can be tolerated by young
healthy rats has no application for what exposure will do the population
at large. Brain damage would be expected at least for the elderly.
The EPA set out criteria that EXCLUDED injury to the the central nervous
system, so their decision excluded many other definitive cases of nerve
damage, paralysis, & brain damage in humans caused by low level exposures
to this toxin.
As for environmental risk, that is ferocious. A study at Kent State
University Department of Biological Science headed by Eric Lesnett
established definitively that bluegill fish exposed to malathion
experience extreme gill degeration.
A study headed by Dr. Solomon at Rutgers University published in
TERATOLOGY is even more alarming, as Dr. Solomon is convinced his findings
on the dangers of the breakdown metabolites to fish would be found in
humans as well, if anyone bothered to look for these effects, which have
not been studied because the law does not require chemical manufacturers
to assess the dangers of the chemicals these toxins break down into,
including malaoxon & paroxon which are more dangerous than the parent
compound. Dr. Solomon discovered that exposure of malathion caused heart
defects in fish at the rate of 12% to 38$. Where fish had the break-down
metabolites in combination with the metabolites of at least one other
pesticide, the heart defect rate raised to 50%.
That was just one of many studies that proved the dangerousness of the
metabolites exceeds the dangerousness of the parent chemical, but the EPA
does not require assessment of the metabolites & does not include the
break-down chemicals in their safe-usage definitions. It is also one of
scores of studies that shoe malathion risk increases by multiple factors
if a second common garden chemical is involved in exposures. So if you use
TWO garden chemicals, your risk can double, triple, or increase by factors
of ten -- yet once again the chemical companies are not required to prove
their chemicals are safe-as-used when the environment also has other
chemicals safe-as-used in the environment. That studies prove these
combinations are many times more harmful than the "official" assessment is
not part o the EPA's assessment because the law requires them to assess
only what the law requires the chemical companies to test, so some of the
definitive & extreme hazards of malathion cannot be considered by the EPA
unless & until Congress demands that the hazards caused by the by the
break-down chemicals me included in the risk assessment. They are excluded
-- yet they are known to render maliathon extremely hazardous to fish
populations, & to have caused such things in humans as kidney failure &
Its tragic that you find a chemical-industry-funded website that
intentionally overlooks the actual authoritative risks. And it's just
stupid that you use malathion for purposes which cause harm to the garden
strictly apart from risk to human life & the environment. It would be an
ignorant choice even if the only ill effect had been the destruction of
beneficial insects required for the healthy balance of the garden. It's
certainly unfortunate that the actual risks extend far beyond the narrow
boundaries of what the EPA is Congressionally restricted from including, &
it's unfortunate that the current political climate prefers the chemical
company "spin" over the complete science. But it remains that even if
hadn't been true that it is a great danger to human health & the
environment, it's a known hazard to the garden itself, a self-perpetuating
hazard that destroys a garden's ability to manage the majority of its own
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
The actual label can be found at
and other places as well.
Note that the personal protective equipment section says. "
Applicators and other handlers must wear long sleeved shirt and long
pants, chemical resistant gloves, such as barrier laminate, or viton,
protective eyewear such as goggles, shoes plus socks. Follow
manufacturer's instructions for cleaning/maintaining PPE. If no such
instructions for washables, use detergent and hot water. Keep and wash
PPE separately from other laundry."
I believe that another poster said that he applies malathion in short
sleeve shirt and shorts. He does so at his own risk. READ AND FOLLOW
THE LABEL EXACTLY.
Just because a product can be purchased by anyone does not mean that
it is safe to use willy-nilly. This is the point that I am trying to
get across - YOU MUST READ THE LABEL - if you are to use the product
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