Publications Plus online catalog
This Land
57 Ways To Protect Your Home Environment (and Yourself)
50 ways 57 ways 60 ways

9. Scout For Pests On The Landscape

white grub

In the world of yards and gardens, the best way to prevent trouble is to go out looking for it. Regularly “scout” your lawn and garden for signs of damage or the culprits themselves—weeds and insects.

Scouting is one of the best ways to cut down on the use of pesticides. By scouting, you can make sure that a problem really exists before you try to fight it. Scouting helps you catch problems in the early stages and makes it possible to “spot-treat” only those areas that require attention, rather than broadcasting chemicals across an entire lawn or garden.

looking for signs of damage

Spotting signs of damage doesn’t automatically mean you should take action. It all depends on the type of pest, the type of damage caused, the severity of infestation, and your own personal preferences. For instance, does the damage fall into any of the following categories?
categories of damage

Economic damage: Some insects, such as termites, cause economic damage to a home, yard, or garden.
categories of damage

Health risk: Some insects and related creatures are a concern because they carry disease. A good example is the tick, one species of which is responsible for transmitting Lyme disease.
categories of damage

Aesthetic damage and nuisance problems: Some
homeowners do not want to see holes eaten into leaves or all of the leaves eaten off of a plant—particularly the leaves of an ornamental–even though the plant may be able to tolerate the damage. Even normally desirable plants may become a nuisance if they begin to take over an entire yard.
Pictured is imported cabbage worm larvae on broccoli.

After you identify a problem, determine the potential for damage and how much you or your landscape can tolerate. Once you know what you’re up against, find out if the damage can be controlled with less-toxic strategies. Use pesticides as a last resort.

University of Illinois Logo