Howard Garrett – Natural Organic Insect Control – Identifying Beneficials and Pests

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Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:

  • How a simple, natural-organic program for gardening and landscaping on residential and commercial projects works better in every way
  • Why the most effective pest control just happens to be organic
  • How to protect and work with beneficial insects
  • Learn what natural and organic pest control products to use in your situations


About The Speaker:

Howard Garrett is recognized as one of the leaders in the research, education, and promotion of natural organic practices. Garrett was born in Pittsburg, Texas, received a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University in 1969, and served in the United States

Marine Corps Reserves from 1970 to 1977. Howard has extensive experience in landscape contracting, greenhouse growing, golf course planning and maintenance, and organic product development. Howard has devoted his life to establishing a leadership role in the natural organic marketplace. Garrett provides state-of-the-art advice on natural organic gardening, landscaping, pet health, composting, pest control, and how to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

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QUESTION: What did you learn from or like about this presentation?


  1. Debra

    Love it. I knew a lot of these beneficials and learned a couple new ones. I love sitting out and watching the happenings in the herb garden, so much goes on there. I always let some herbs flower because of all they attract when they do. I try to plant at least one new plant every year to attract beneficial insects, hummingbirds, butterflies and pollinators. I too enjoy visits from hummingbird moths. Thanks for this presentation. Oh, and I’ve also been know to throw a garden spider a grasshopper or two.

  2. Fayette

    I knew about only a couple beneficials. This was very informative and i appreciate the illustrations of the larva stages.

  3. Jane

    Great information. thank you so much. My
    issue is the Japanese Bettle and white flies.
    Any suggestions/

    1. Doug Sheldon

      You can find information on japanese beetles, white flies and other insects in the Dirt Doctor Library:

  4. Jane

    A teenager in our county died from a bat bite

    1. Molly

      I’m no expert but even I know that’s extremely rare. Very sad, but extremely rare.

      One time my brother was bitten by a bat and the bat died. Might have been due to residuals from his chemotherapy and radiation years before (some things stay in the body a long, long time). Or maybe it was a really old bat.

      1. Marjory Wildcraft

        Yikes, that comment was a surprise!

        “The bat died”..

  5. daniela

    I like presentation but I did not get name turkogramma wasp? and where to get good nematodes.I bought this spring -so far nothing better. I deal with millions caterpillars in my back yard garden eating my grapes.Now they are inside red raspberries fruits.So skier y to eat-almost invisible from outside
    Could you give some advice and thank you

    1. Molly

      Trichogramma wasp. I looked it up with the wrong spelling and good old Google fixed it for me. 🙂

    2. Doug Sheldon

      Here’s some information on trichogramma wasps:

      Here are some beneficial insect sources:

      1. Marjory Wildcraft

        Thanks for those links Doug. I didn’t realize there were so many places to get beneficial insects. I’ve primarily used ARBICO. I am a gues on Sherri’s radio show (SHerri is one of the founders of ARBICO).


  6. Molly

    Thank you Mr. Garrett for this immensely informative presentation. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the pretty bugs, and I’m glad to know some of them are helpful in the garden as well as being decorative.

    What are the two spiders that are dangerous? If you mentioned that, I missed it.

    1. Doug Sheldon

      Brown recluse and black widow

      1. Molly

        Thank you Doug! I figured it was probably those two but wanted to be sure. My husband was bit once while working outdoors and we never found the culprit but the doctor said it was a spider of some kind. Nasty bite.

    2. Rich

      Brown Recluse and Black Widow

  7. Renee

    Learned a lot about what pests NOT to eliminate! Very interesting!

  8. M.

    I quite enjoyed this buggy presentation. I learned a lot. I don’t think I’ll ever get over being afraid of wasps, but some of the other insects I USED to think of being harmful I now know are my garden helpers. Thank you, Howard, for this informative presentation AANNDD your service to our great nation! God bless.

  9. Gale luby

    he needs to focus on slides, not the stage

  10. calle

    No one ever talks about Colorado potato bugs…

    Have tried Neem oil, and hot pepper vinegar and dish soap spray. Poor hubs is picking them daily.


    1. Ellen

      We’re starting to get potato bugs this year, which I’ve been picking off, and watching for eggs. So Neem oil didn’t work to control them? I just bought some, keeping it for my back-up plan.

  11. Tony

    What about pill bugs and sow bugs? How do you manage them?

    1. paz

      my yard was bein ruled and overrun by them, we have had great success on gettin rid of 75% by hand! crush em and compost em, my wet compost, dry compost and worm bins love the pillbug mush haha, i set pieces of cardboard around the yard and come the next day to gather hand fulls of them, same thing happens if i chop n drop greens to compost, let em dry on the ground a couple days, come and pick composting leafs AND hundreds of pillbugs all at once

      1. JC

        I’ve used raw potato cut in half, cut-side down. Gather up 2-3x a day and feed the bugs to the chickens.
        I have thousands of these awful bugs. Cardboard or chop & drop might be more efficient than little potatoes! I’ve lost a whole row of green beans to them. They ate the shoots just as the plant barely pushed through the surface.

    2. Maggie J

      chickens and ducks

    3. Charlene

      They are good for the garden.

    4. Jim

      Diatomaceous earth for pill bugs, sow bugs and some others

  12. Doug Sheldon
  13. Barbara

    Thank-you so much for a very informative presentation! We don’t use any chemicals in our lawn or garden and just leave it to nature. Now I will at least be able to identify some of the beneficial bugs. Thanks.

  14. Adele

    All good information! Left me wanting more, so I may sign up for the Natural-Organic Gardening and Landscape course. One thing I learned that I did not know is that black widow spiders are a favorite food of the mud dauber wasps. Thanks for a great presentation!

  15. Vickie

    Thank you. I have used lady bugs and lacewings in my garden, but never realized how beneficial wasps were.

  16. cathryn lyddon

    Are there any predator solutions for mealy bugs?

    1. Doug Sheldon

    I heard Howard say aphids are a sign of stress. Possible reasons are plant is in wrong place like full sun when it should be under the shade or vice versa; or too much or too little water; fertilizer not sufficient. In our geothermal greenhouse (5-6 feet below ground where it is warm at 50 deg. F all year round unless it is subzero outside) kale has much aphids when warm temperature starts. Arugula & radish leaves also have too much aphids. How do I know which of these causes are relevant to a specific veggie?

    1. Doug Sheldon

      You need to understand if you have the correct amount of sunlight, fertilization, and watering program. You may need to increase the air circulation in your greenhouse if you can. Also, hopefully you have good soil.

    2. Sandy

      I often see aphids on my brassicas, the family that includes broccoli arugula and, I think, radishes. These veggies provide us with a lot of mineral nutrients, so they are healthier if the soil they are in has microbes that will break down and release those minerals and other trace minerals into the roots of the plants. Something Howard said early on in this video (I loved this talk, there was so much I needed to know!) helped me understand why adding a homemade compost to the soil around the plants that are attracting aphids. The microbes in the compost are effective in breaking down the bits of rock in my soil, so they are probably the most effective ones to help make important minerals available to the plants in my garden. I do add other organic components into my garden soil, since I am working on making the soil where I live much richer and healthier. It is possible to use my compost or to buy products that can be diluted to make foliar sprays. I have been hesitant to use these since we can have frequent rain and fog in the summer, and I am cautious about encouraging mildew to culture on my veggies. Some instructors say that foliar spray helps prevent mildew, but I have yet to understand how spraying liquid on my plants will prevent a condition that arises from too much moisture. I have been learning about how to garden organically for years, and there is so much I have yet to discover!

  18. Chet

    I wish he would’ve said where these insects live. I don’t think Connecticut has even half the things mentioned.

    1. Molly

      He’s based in Texas so the insect culture there is probably his specialty. Doesn’t mean the bugs don’t live all over though. During this summit I’ve learned about plants I’d never heard of that are even considered invasive species in my state. I’ll have to see if there are new-to-me bugs around too.

    2. Doug Sheldon

      Most of the insects Howard talks about can be found throughout the U.S.

    3. Sandy

      I live in the northern part of Wisconsin in a wetlands area where keeping toxins out of the soil helps protect the water supply for a huge area of the US much cleaner. I am encouraged about how many neighbors grew up here and respect the merits of organic gardening. It gets very cold up here but nearly all of the ones Howard discussed are up here, too.

  19. Alicia

    I have many beneficial insects from my chicken farm byproducts –until now I was eliminating some of my helpers. I also learned a great deal from you seminar on trees. Thank you for great and useful information wonderfully well presented.

  20. Tracy

    I loved this presentation. While we don’t have some of these insects mentioned, one that we do have that is the bain of my garden is Squash Bugs. I have tried many, many ways to get rid of them. They come and destroy EVERY year. I do wish there was a way to get rid of them permanently.

    1. Sandy

      Howard offers some good suggestions below. Some of the points I didn’t in his notes are that the squash bugs develop about 3/4 below the soil surface, and stirring at that depth around the vine a few times in the early part of the garden season can deter them. The other was to if space permits, plant the squash in different parts of the garden each year, so that the bugs can’t easily find the squash.

      1. Marjory Wildcraft

        Oh Sandy, thanks for reminding me of those tips for squash bugs.

    2. JC

      I have had issues with squash bugs as well. Three things that I’ve found that have really made a difference are

      1. Trellis the vines. Bugs and eggs are much easier to spot this way. (remove eggs with packing tape). Check all leaves DAILY, especially for eggs.
      2. Check DAILY for bugs on the leaves in the morning and evening when it’s cooler. Not late morning or afternoon, as they seem to hide away more then.
      3. When watering your cucumbers and squashes, POUR, don’t dribble, a bunch at the base of the plant, and wait a minute. The bugs which are hiding under the soil, will think they’re about to drown and will come crawling out, often up the stem of the plant. Pick ’em off and give the extra protein to your chickens (if you have birds). This works quite well for control of the adults.

      A couple of other tips:
      I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I’ve heard that if you squish them, the smell attracts more squash bugs.
      It also helps to put some distance between the plants they enjoy, so that they don’t crawl from one plant to the other. Also, do some succession planting, again spaced away from other susceptible plants.

      Hope there are some new things in there for you to try out and that you get a good harvest this time around.

  21. Nan

    I loved the discussion, thank you. I wish I had a chart of the beneficial bugs to hand in my garage.

    1. Doug Sheldon

      This book has great pictures and discussion about insects. Overlook the Name “Texas” – the bugs in this book can be found throughout the U.S.

  22. gthomson

    Perfect timing… I have a new multi-grafted Asian Pear tree. Planted about 6-7 months ago, and it woke up and is growing leaves pretty well. Some of the latest growth has many aphids on it, so I was getting a bit concerned that I should do something. A few ladybugs, and a praying mantis or two. And I just saw some new bugs today that I didn’t know. They do look like the ladybug larvae in your video.
    I was about to spray some neam oil on it.
    But I’ll leave it be now and hope the beneficials will all take care of it okay.
    The aphids seem to overwhelm some plants not just when they have something wrong with them, but also just young/new growth that may not be very strong yet?

    Any idea on what to do with Bagrada bugs? I had some, and they seem to like kale, broccoli and I had many around what were weeds.
    They don’t seem like beneficials.
    Are there any options to deal with them in ways with beneficials?

    1. Doug Sheldon

      NATURAL CONTROL: Parasitic wasps and tachinid flies.

      ORGANIC CONTROL: Hand-pick the bugs and crush the eggs; spray organic pesticides as a last resort. Use plant oil sprays for heavy infestations.

      Remove weed hosts in and near planting areas.

      Bagrada bug adults, eggs, and nymphs in the soil or container media can be controlled by steam before planting. Removal of plant residue after harvest can reduce carryover between crops.

      1. Maria Regina

        This website contains pictures of adults, nymphs and eggs. The Bagrada bug has been here in California since 2008.

        1. Marjory Wildcraft

          Thanks Maria.

  23. Nancy

    Hi Howard
    I didn’t seem to catch any part that you spoke about how to control Tent Caterpillars.
    Did I somehow miss that part?
    I live in Northern BC, Canada…
    Our flowering trees are COVERED in these darn things 🙁

    1. Doug Sheldon
  24. Jane

    Doug thank you for answering my question on white flies and japanese beetles. Appreciated your links. Wssps are good. Well last summer i saw some paper underneath my Rose bush. It wasn’t paper it was a wasp nest. Yup they got me real good. They deliver one hell of a sting. Great presentation take care

  25. Maxine Ogles

    Thanks for all the good pointers,,some of the insects I have delt with over the years of gardening…good to know that some of them are beneficial…

  26. M. E.

    A good bug picture presentation..just need to be shown loooooonger.
    So many bugs. some I know & leave…..
    Unfortunately I believe I may have squashed a lady bug and some other (?) good guys yellow clustered grouping eggs on my cabbage underside leaf. Guess I should have waited and check what they would grow up to be. I’m trying to determine the squash bug vs the lady bug and also the soldier and stink bug. How can we tell the good guy from the bad bug, other than squishing it???
    My first intro to the squash bug was when I thought I had a bunch of lady bugs on my pole beans 2 years ago.

    1. Doug Sheldon

      You can study the pictures in the Library topics or in the Texas Bug Book.

  27. Ionut Barbu

    Very useful presentation .
    Thank you very much Haword .
    I try my best to leave “bugs” alone .
    Someone once said : you don’t know its purpose , you didn’t make it , let it be .
    Around the flowers of a celery I’ve seen at least 7 species of insects , aphids excluded 🙂 .
    From Essex , UK .
    Kind Regards

    1. Maria Regina


      When I was a teenager, I determined to find out what some common insects eat. I continued my love affair with insects by studying entomology at my university.

      I found a huge 1 3/4 inch Jerusalem Cricket, commonly known as a potato bug, and put him in a large jar. When I put a piece of potato into the jar, he avoided it, but when I gave him some Japanese beetle and May beetle larvae, he promptly devoured them. I learned that this cute cricket is more beneficial to us. It just scares people when it crawls across the hardwood floor at 4 am in the morning. When that happens, we catch and then release them later on in the morning.

      Lately with all the geoengineering spraying going on here in Los Angeles, I have not found these crickets when I dig into the soil, nor have we had the horrific May and June beetle infestations that we used to have. I wonder what is in that mixture of dust and vapor they are spraying above us. It must contain insecticides. If so, what is it doing to us?

  28. Lindy

    I liked the closeup pictures of the insects and the simple ideas to control insect problems. Thanks.

  29. Patriciaa

    omg, this was useful!
    I had before this video, complete phobia of any insect, in fact i was really afraid to watch this, but i decided to give it a try!
    well, when i moved to the house where i live now, there were so many wasps house, exactly the ones he showed! i had them all killed, and now to find out that they were just there next to the black widows, and now i have way more black widows and had no idea that the wasps were eating them! I want the wasps back, I can’t even s that I am even saying this! lol

    1. Maria Regina

      Lately, we have not seen the blue mud dauber wasps nor have we had infestations of the Western Yellow Jacket whereas twenty years ago, they were quite abundant. Again, I attribute it to chemtrailing (geoengineering) and our artificial drought caused by harmful lithium vapors.

      However, the cellar spider (the daddy long legs of spiders with a long abdomen) has been coming inside our house. I am delighted to tell you that this wonderful spider has been seen dropping from its unsightly web high in corners of our ceilings at night when the lights are out and then searching for black widow spiders, which it kills and devours. It also likes to eat hobo spiders and other house spiders. As a result, we have rare encounters with black widows. Nature tends to fill in the voids.

      Here are some pictures found on a very safe web search:

      Please do not tempt this awesome fragile spider as it will bite in self-defense, but its venom is not harmful. We trap and release these spiders leaving them in close proximity to our house so that they may eat other spiders and insects. Unfortunately, they do like to eat the long-legged beneficial Crane flies, which people mistake for giant mosquitoes.

      Here is a picture and more information about the beneficial Crane Flies.

  30. Care

    This was AWESOME!!! Incredibly valuable information. I love this guy! Thank you.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft

      You are welcome Care!

  31. Mary

    Is this presentation and Howard’s other presentation on trees from the Dirt Doctor course?

    1. Doug Sheldon


  32. Charlene Dryman

    The bane of my garden is the leaf-footed bugs. They decimate my tomatoes, then go over to the pomegranates. I also don’t like the squash bugs, but lately I slow the moth down by covering my plants with the ag fabric. But, what do I do with the leaf-footed bugs? I spray them with neem and water or oil, soap, and water. They never slow down.

    1. Doug Sheldon
      1. Charlene Dryman

        Thank you, I have to get some citrus oil.

  33. Adrian

    If you have wasps in your garden, will it be an issue if I want to raise bees? Or can they co-exist okay?

    1. Doug Sheldon

      They will coexist.

  34. Claudia A Uccello

    you obviously understand your topic but I am a beginner and had a hard time with your topic I thought you would give us natural ways to control pests not an education of beneficial bugs. We have an infestation of gypsy moths and need a way to control the larva and excrement that drop from the trees

    1. Doug Sheldon

      You can find topics on specific pests in the Library:

      And Chapter 8 of the TORC Course:

      Regarding gypsy moth, keep your yard as clean as possible. Remove discarded items, dead branches, stumps, etc., where the adult female moth is likely to lay egg masses. Destroy any egg masses that are found.

      Sticky Tree Bands can be placed around tree trunks to help curtail the caterpillars movement into and out of the tree canopy.

      Apply Bt or Spinosad to the leaves of trees to kill gypsy moth caterpillars. For best results, sprays must be applied when caterpillars are young, less than one inch long. In instances where populations are high, two (or more!) applications five days apart might be needed.

      Early next Spring, release trichogramma wasps.

    2. Sandy

      Howard discussed a wasp that lays eggs in tent caterpillars. These mature into gypsy moths. This is so great, the caterpillars don’t get to eat all the leaves, neither do they survive to become moths and lay more caterpillar eggs! In our area we have fores tent caterpillars. They are quite beautiful, with emerald and deep aquamarine stripes spotted with amber dots. Boy was I disappointed to discover the gorgeous little worm I found on my apple sapling was related to a bug that destroys trees, no matter how unhealthy those trees may be. The early detection and prevention strategy recommended to me by my extension agent was to keep on the lookout for them, and when detected to begin giving my fruit trees a good shake to knock the worms to the ground where they would probably be eaten before climbing back on. So far that, and diligent organic care has kept thm under control.

  35. Mike

    He mentioned a simple way to control fire ants. Does anyone have any recommendations? They are all over our farm…& children 🙁

    1. Doug Sheldon

      Here is some information on fire ant control:

  36. Bonnie H

    I’m ok with insects that eat a little plant life, but the last 2 years in Black Forest, Colorado we have had tiny grasshoppers that decimate anything not covered in fine netting or grown inside a greenhouse/hoophouse. Any tips on controlling those or should I just keep praying for flocks of seagulls to visit?

    1. Doug Sheldon

      Nolo bait when in nymph stage. Surround WP has been effective when older. Here is some information:

  37. Nan Sundgren

    Thank you, Howard! I’ve learned about a number of beneficials over the years, and you added a lot to my knowledge with your video. I garden for my own pleasure and food, and for all the creatures (especially birds and butterflies) who frequent my garden. I live in town in northwestern Kansas and always get scores and scores of volunteer sunflowers. I let many of them grow, and even transplant some to places where they will not shade vegetable plants. Here’s my problem: A couple of years ago, I found the sunflower leaves were being absolutely stripped by black caterpillars, and when I researched them I discovered that they came from the painted lady butterfly. There’s not much to do – to try to save some of the sunflowers for the birds for winter food – but to cut the leaves affected and put them whole into a large bucket of soapy water. I can’t tell you how many of those buckets I’ve employed in a season – a whole lot. I can not afford the time anymore to do that, and I do not want to lose the sunflowers. And that’s not the worst part. They are now laying eggs on my Echinacea! And I have a lot of that. I spent so much time trying to control on those last summer. I’ve really decreased the number of sunflowers I am letting grow this year. And I just saw a “flock” of painted ladies TODAY in the Echinacea. They’re back!!! Please tell me what beneficial might help me, and where I can get it. Thanks so much for your teaching and your help. Nan

    1. Doug Sheldon

      Natural control: Wasps, birds, lizards, and predatory flies.

      Organic control: Bacillus thuringiensis sprays if really necessary.

      Insight: This is an example of those insects whose life forms are both beneficial and harmful. Adult butterflies pollinate flowers and provide garden beauty, but the larvae or caterpillars can be very destructive pests. Butterflies should be protected because they add beauty and fascination to nature. It would be a dull environment without them.

  38. Cheryl Ann Fulton

    Great presentation!

    We are having the worst outbreak/concentration of horse flies in our pasture I have ever seen. We have a herd of 32 horses grazing about 400 acres. We have 8 subdivided areas for rotations. Any tips for how to control the flies? They are really miserable for the horses.

    1. Doug Sheldon
  39. Gail

    This was fascinating. There are SO many different bugs.

  40. Julie Beal

    Thank you for so much useful information! 🙂

  41. Anita Johnson

    Great information. Thanks,

    Need help with getting rid of slugs in my wonderfully damp garden area. Thanks!

    1. Anita Johnson

      Found the answer at the dirt doctor website. Thanks again!

    2. Doug Sheldon

      Here is some information on snails and slugs:

      It would be beneficial for your soil and plants – and reduce your snails and slugs – to let the soil dry out between waterings.

  42. Sheila Fontaine

    You are so helpful. I do have many of those egg pics. Now I know to leave them alone. Know who they are! Yes I see those different flys. Yes those wonderful wasps. Thank you for a wonderful lesson on pests and benificial bugs.
    Enjoyed all the information

  43. Sue

    what is the best organic measure for white fly? I have an organic back to eden garden (no till/wood chips) and have never had white fly before but we have had lots of rain and they settled in on my new crop of kale!

    Also, something is eating leaves on my herbs and some
    other plants….just eating little sections out of them. Not sure what is doing the eating! Any thoughts!?

    Great presentation! One of my favorites! Bugs are so interesting and how they all work together with everything surrounding them!

    1. Doug Sheldon

      Here is some information on whiteflies:

      Regarding the other damage, maybe go out at night with a flashlight and see if you can identify the pest. If you do not see anything on the leaves or stems, look under the leaves.

  44. Bobby K. Carrell

    How do you get ride of or control flat head bores in fruit trees?

    1. Doug Sheldon

      Here is some information on borers:

  45. Jo

    One of the pests I didn’t see mentioned was earwigs. I’ve had some success with manual eradication, and have lately added traps made of plastic containers with holes in the lids with oil and soy sauce. Also use wet cardboard or newspapers…

    1. Doug Sheldon

      Here is some information on earwigs:

  46. Troy

    I’m here in order to see the Geoff Lawton talk, but I don’t see any way to watch it. He sent out an email with the link to this page, saying we could watch him now. Can anyone tell me what’s up?

  47. Marjory Wildcraft

    Hi Troy,

    Geoff’s talk will be tomorrow for the Tuesda encore day.

    Yes, it is a really dgood one, you dont want to miss it.

  48. Faye Arcaro

    Thankyou Howard, you are speaking my language. I don’t understand why people are so afraid of such small things. I love them, love photographing them, watching and learning from them. I also think if people were more like our ant communities the world would be a better place. Keep up the good work, I’m doing my best here in Australia to share similar information.

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