What is the number one way to combat an insect problem in the garden? Know your pest. The answer is that simple. Correct identification of the pest is essential in any type of garden management.
Step #1 Correct identification
Sadly, I have often seen gardeners find signs of a pest and immediately reach for an overall insecticide without properly identifying the problematic insect. This can be detrimental to your garden. Insecticides can kill insects that are beneficial to your garden, like pollinators and insect predators.
Step #2 Learn about the lifecycle and biology of the pest
Once the pest is correctly identified, a major part of growing organically or using integrated pest management (IPM) is learning about the insect to develop a plan of control. Learn about the life cycle and biology of your pest. Knowing all you can about a pest so you can manage that pest is just common sense.
For example, Mexican bean beetles lay their eggs in garden debris. Knowing that, you can help lessen your bean beetle problems by cleaning up your garden at the end of the summer.
Planting early, using netting, and choosing resistant varieties are all effective strategies that work in pest management IF the pest is known. Too much science for you? Your local UGA Extension agent is the resource to help you. Use his/her entomological skills to make your garden better!
And, remember that when using any insecticide the label instructions are the law!
Happy, pest-free gardening!