Alien invasion

It seems that, in this day and age, society is more concerned with regulation of the tools to control pests than the actual pests, their destructive environmental impacts and their threat to health. We seem to forget that the pest is the problem. The situation changes when severe pest problems arise, such as the exotic invasive pests that strike across the country: Formosan termites in New Orleans that are rapidly destroying property, deadly encephalitis-carrying mosquitoes in New York and fire ants that are burning up the South. We must be good stewards of the land under our care (the focus of this issue), but we can't just hide behind the couch when pests come knocking at our door. We must use all reasonable measures including biological controls, cultural techniques, proper plant selection and chemicals in a combined Integrated Pest Management (IPM) effort to control the pest.

Regulatory agencies clamor to remove pesticides from the market; but when it comes to a severe pest problem, society wants products that perform. This is why pesticides,although continually attacked by anti-pesticide groups, will always have a place in our pest control stratagem. They have a consistent, proven track record for efficacious control. Much promise is placed on biological controls for long-term management of pests. However, biological controls have not proved successful in all cases. Take the Medfly in California. The Medfly is one of those notorious alien invasive pests that was introduced into the United States. Jerry Brown, then governor, banned malathion from being sprayed on fruit trees for Medfly control. Instead of malathion, they tried introducing sterile male Medflies to control the population. Control wasn't effective, and the governor was forced to retract the malathion ban.

Alien invasive pests like the Medfly have reached crisis proportions in the United States and have forced immediate action. The list includes kudzu, the gypsy moth, fire ant, Japanese beetle, Asian long-horned beetle, Dutch elm disease and many more. The issue has become so critical that President Clinton has signed an executive order to establish the Invasive Species Council to develop ways to protect our borders from these pests and control those that are here already. And his 2001 budget proposal includes $28.8 million for programs to control these pests. Learn more about these foreign plagues that have infiltrated the United States and efforts to get them under control in "Invasive pests" beginning on page 18.

Not all insects are pests. In fact, of the millions of insects that are known today, only a small percentage of them are pests. Beneficial insects, such as bees that produce honey, butterflies that add beauty to your grounds and predacious insects that help control pests, actually enrich your property. So why not attract them to your site? Ron Dodson, president and CEO of Audubon International, shows on page 28 how you can attract these friendly tenants to your site.

In the following pages, look for more information that relates to stewardship in grounds care.

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