Some of my favorite organic insect control products are the horticultural oils.
Oils, either plant based or petroleum based(like baby oil), that are used as smothering insecticides when sprayed on as a water based emulsion. They are organic and very effective, but need to be used with some forethought and knowledge.
For the plants that tolerate them, they are almost the ideal insecticide. They kill nearly every kind of small insect pest, including ones that hide very effectively. They have a decent residual, meaning that they go on killing for a week or better, which allows them to interrupt the insects life cycle. They work great for spider mites, scale, mealy bugs, thrip crawlers, all stages of most pests, even eggs. The best part; there is NO WAY any insect will ever develop an immunity to oil sprays. They don't poison the bugs, they smother them, or dissolve the bugs waxy coat and the bud dehydrates. They even offer some anti-fungal properties because the fungus spores cannot germinate well on a leaf with an oil film on it. Powdery mildew on Rosemary is literally cured by oil sprays(that's a problem right now in the south).
Now for the bad news, some plants do not like oil sprays. The most noteworthy one to me is tomatoes; which is sad, because tomatoes get so many pests that oil could potentially help, especially spider mites. Generally the plants that do not like oil have very soft or fuzzy leaves and plants with hard or shiny leaves do tolerate it, but there are lots of exceptions, both that tolerate oil and that don't. The best advice until you have experience, is to test a small part of the plant first, and give it a couple days to show any adverse effects. Sometimes oil can ruin a plants leaf color, where a white waxy bloom gives that plant a silvery or blue hue, like some confers; junipers for example. Oil will make them grass green. Succulents also have a waxy coating that helps hold in their water, and oils, besides ruining the color, can actually burn them. Most of the Arum or philodendron family tolerate oils well, as do palms, ivies, Roses, most trees and shrubs. Another caution about oils, never use any product containing even tiny amounts of elemental sulfur within a month of any oil product. Sulfur is mostly used as an organic fungicide, but it can burn in hot weather, especially when oils are present. Oils can burn in hot weather also, but the newer formulations that are middle weight(mid between heavy dormant oils and light volatile orange oil), if applied in the evening or early morning, usually won't cause many problems to tolerant plants, even in summer.
Finally, the last thing to consider is that oils, being so effective, also can damage your predatory insect populations. Some of the best good bug predators are also small like the pests, such as ladybug larva, lace wing larva, predatory spider mites(yes there are good mites), and parasitic wasps. Any insecticide should be used sparingly and with efforts to avoid collateral damage. Predators are particularly vulnerable to insecticides, because of their lifestyle. They live by scurrying around on your plants looking for pests to eat, so they will surely wander into some insecticide, whereas most pests hide in nooks and crannies of a plant. I like just plain water, blasted on the plant, especially in the undersides and nooks, because it dislodges the pest, which usually kills them, and the predators can just pick themselves back up and keep eating pests. Water blasts should be strong as possible, but not harmful to the plant. In humid weather, do the blasting mid to late morning on breezy days, so the foliage will dry quickly, and not encourage disease.
Slugs can glide over or even along a brand new razor blade. Their slime protects them. The beer might work, but it's messy and a waste of beer, a sin in my book. The best way to use beer is to open a beer and drink it while you do this. Get a section of the news paper, and apple and a handful of rubber bands. Cut the apple into small pieces about 1/2 inch. Open the newspaper section to the middle, and tear it down the center, giving you a bunch of half sheets of newsprint. Take one of these sheets, and put an apple piece at the bottom middle, and roll up the sheet over the apple into a narrow tube, about 1/2 inch in diameter. secure it closed with the rubber band (tape also works). Have another drink of beer. Repeat until you've used up the sheets and apple pieces. Take the tubes out into your beds, and scatter them around, under bushes and shady places. Then wait. In a few days the slugs and pill bugs will have found the tubes, drawn in by the smell of rotting apple, and hang out during the day in them. Then one morning a week or so later, before the tubes collapse, gather them up and either toss them in the trash, or take them out a park, or nature area (or enemies garden) and release them. Even works for Hindu's and PETA people!
You probably should be drinking a beer when you read those directions. You are not folding the newspapers, you're rolling them up into a tube, with open ends and the apple bit in the center. The rubber band or tape is just to keep the roll from unrolling. You probably could have used the paper rolls that paper towels come in, but this way you can make a bunch. The final tube will be about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter, and about 18 inches long, with a bit of apple in the center of the tube, because you rolled it up in the tube. Leave the ends open, so the smell of the apple gets out and the critters can get in. They will come and go, using it as a nice dark, moist secure home during the day, after a few days, and then you just pick them up one morning. Hasta la veesta, baby!
Hey Jean Marie,
Is this you? I just realized you sometimes tag your posts with cute pictures. This certainly is one. If its you, you have very cute eyes. Sorta like my hubby. Luckily our kids got her eyes. I have beady, little sunken in eyes, not my favorite trait. I have lots of pics and other info about me on my Facebook page, where I'm starting to have many more atheist fiends than original regular friends. You and anybody from TA is welcome to friend me on facebook. My nick is : chuckgoecke
Old card board tube's would work as well or even a cardboard box, have tried clay pot's before with only minimal result's, though I suspect I was using the wrong bait, Ill have to try apple's next time.
Though I like snail/slug hunting on a rainy night with my head strapped camping light and a brew or two.............eight, and then crank up Mp3 player and go hunting, hahaha soooo relaxing and meditative, great stress relief.
The reason to make the newspaper tubes is that there's no cost, and you can make lots of them. I get slugs in lots of upside down pots and other garden paraphernalia that gives them a nice dark home, but extracting them is a mess. I hate touching a slug, because they slime your fingers, and the slim is not easy to wash off. Next time you're actually hunting them at night, and if you don't want to handle them, the old technique of putting salt on them works. I recommend that instead of regular table salt, sodium chloride, which is not good for the environment and plants, use Epsom salts, magnesium sulfate, as both magnesium and sulfur are nutrients for plants. Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers, members of the nightshade family, especially like Epsom salts added lightly during the growing season.