Organic Pest Control

Organic Pest Control – Two Stories

For the first time this year I’m growing members of the cabbage family that are preferred host plants for harlequin bugs. With the introduction of Russian Kale, Hakurei turnips and Mizuna to my garden, came more Harlequin  bugs.

The Rest of the Story

In spite of the fact that I know better after 35 years of gardening, I tried to ignore the fact that the bugs were multiplying right under my nose. Don’t ask me what I was thinking — or what caused me to do it — but I just tried to pretend I didn’t notice the damage they were doing and the increase of that damage. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I guess I was busy doing other things and didn’t want to give it attention.

Fortunately for my garden, I came to my senses before total disaster took place and started an all out campaign to kill them. They’re a lot easier to find and destroy than something like squash bugs. I could never have afforded to be this lax with squash bugs or potato beetles or I would have paid dearly for it.

Anyway –  I now have the harlequin bugs under control and will continue to be diligent, but the point is — had I addressed the problem immediately I would not have had a problem in the first place.

One of the Most Successful Controls

If you’re a long-time organic gardener you are familiar with hand-picking and destroying various pest that attack your garden.  This is one of the most successful methods of controlling garden pests, but one that takes diligence and persistence. But it does work!

A Friend’s Story

A friend and reader of TMG in Maryland had a lot of trouble with stink bugs last year.  She was on the alert this spring and killed everyone she saw in the early spring — which amounted to about 400.  (Yes — she kept track.)

She wrote to me on June 28th saying, “I only see one here and there.  This time last year, I was infested!  This makes me realize afresh, that with diligence and persistence, I have managed to cull their numbers — so just when I feel like giving up on the squash vine borer and squash bug — I won’t!”

Final Thought

I found that very encouraging! Thought I’d pass the encouragement along.


Organic Gardening it easy, efficient, effective and it’s a lot easier.


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  • After my battle with the rolly poleys I appreciate your hard work. My solution turned out to be the upside down orange shell. I believe I read it on TMG, not really sure. I cut the orange in half, remove the orange sections (a serrated grapefruit spoon works well for this) and then take the orange peel shell out to the garden in the evening and lay it upside down near the area where I found the bugs. If I pull back the straw mulch and lay the shell on bare soil it works better. In the morning I pick up the shells and they are loaded with pill bugs. I have done this for a couple of weeks now and am getting the newly hatched rolly poleys, the majority of the big ones are gone. I give the orange shells to the chickens and they enjoy a rolly poley breakfast.

  • Hi Alice —
    Congratulations on your success with getting the number of rolly poleys under control!

    You had written to me about your problem with rolly polley bugs on June 8th. You fine tuned and adapted one of the ideas I sent you in my reply to your email. I had written “—– I read about this some time ago: Dig a hole the size of a tin can. Insert the can so the rim is flush with the ground. Cut a grapefruit in half and eat it, then put the half dome rind over the can. The doodle bugs (rolly polleys) are supposed to go under the grapefruit and fall into the can and are unable to crawl out.”

    Your adaptation is much easier and I like it a lot.
    Congratulations on a job well done. Your persistence really paid off.
    Now you can look forward to a great harvest of beans!

  • Alice’s account is very encouraging. Also, Theresa – you are human – and thankfully those harlequin bugs seem to be one of the easier ones to catch and control. It’s more difficult to play catchup with some of the other bad bugs. This is one of the aspects of summer gardening that takes much time, but has to be done.

  • I’m so glad you too found Alice’s account encouraging!
    I guess over the years I’ve spent more time in looking for and killing bad bugs than any other gardening task. It does take time, but it pays off.
    And it’s nice to know I’m in such good company!

  • Theresa, I wish I had gone back and read your post. One of the fallback of the upside orange shell is the bugs that are on the ground and not stuck to the shell. I am thinking if I bury the can I will get more bugs instead of having to scrap up some of the soil under the orange shell. I am still using this method on new plantings and will try it again with a container underneath.

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