Practice Integrated Pest Management
No matter what philosophy you use to approach gardening, whether it be organic, conventional, permaculture, or something more exotic, we advocate using the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to control pest issues.
Integrated Pest Management is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides of any kind are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and non-target organisms, and the environment.
In our area, most pest problems have a non-chemical solution, and many are avoidable with some good planning.
Because there are so many pests and their recommended control is continually changing, we recommend that Californians seek information at the UC Integrated Pest Management's website: ipm.ucanr.edu.
The UC IPM homepage has 4 options, choose the "home" section, the top-left box. (See picture.)
What's Different on the East Side
The Eastern Sierra has largely the same set of pest problems as the rest of California with a few big exceptions that make our area more like northern Nevada.
Because we are in California, residents are reminded that California's pesticide regulations differ from other states, so some out-of-state product recommendations you find on the internet may not be an option here. You can check product registrations at the Department of Pesticide Regulation's website. (See "databases" section.)
Specific Differences for Our Area
The list below represents a short overview of observations that make our area different than the rest of California. This is not comprehensive, but hits the main highlights.
- Although it may not seem like it in spring, we have low broadleaf turf weed pressure. Our main issue is dandelions, and in underfertilized lawns with some shade you'll see some white clover. We have other weeds for sure, but nothing like west of the Sierra.
- We have huge aphid issues in spring on roses, peaches, and garden plants. It gets better later in the season, but be on the lookout.
- Very few fungal diseases on plants, but we do get powdery mildew like everyone else. It's very noticeable on roses and euonymus.
- Earwigs are a big deal here, more than the UC IPM site would lead you to believe. They are encouraged by the use of organic mulches, but mulches are also very beneficial here. You have to make a choice on which is more of a problem. If you're not having earwig problems, feel free to use the mulch. If earwigs are devastating your crops, remove it.
- Not much to worry about with snails and slugs.
- We have big issues with viral diseases on vegetables. Especially on tomatoes. See our vegetable pages for more information. Keeping the garden free of weeds and using shade cloth are 2 techniques that help.
- Grapes have problems with leafhoppers here. See this video for more details.
- Many of the tropical exotic pests in southern California haven't yet made it here. We don't know which ones will survive here, but let's not try to find out! Don't transport firewood from out of the area to here.
- Gardeners will either have: absolutely no squash bugs; or: a nearly endless supply of them. Once they find your garden, expect them forever. Here is some information. Many gardeners do a combination of removing eggs, trapping, and physically removing them from the plants. One solution is to not grow plants in the squash family.
- Contrary to what some sources claim, we have major problems with ground squirrels in gardens, especially in Mono County. There is no easy solution, especially for gardeners who have to deal with antelope ground squirrels. Here is a page of information from UC. Contact us for more ideas. At least we don't have tree squirrels.
- We have both moles and gophers. Gophers are a far worse problem. Moles tend to be a mild nuisance at worst.
- At higher elevations voles are a problem. They are a minor issue in Owens Valley, at least compared to other wildlife.
- Bridgeport, aside of having a frost risk all year, can be devastated by rabbit and vole feeding. They can fatally wound young trees.
- Because we are adjacent to open rangeland there are many unusual insects, mostly beetles and bugs, that invade gardens. Expect some years to have large numbers of seed bugs of various types and stink bugs. Other parts of California have problems with related pests, but we have our own set of species. Control is the same, however.
If you don't see your problem listed above, that just means we're no different than the rest of the state. Consult the UC IPM page or contact our help line for advice.