By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When people ask about pests on plants their question is often ‘What should I DO?’ For me personally, the answer is usually…nothing.

That’s partly because lots of pests can cause some damage but don’t kill the plant, so I don’t really feel the need to do anything. But another reason not to reach for a spray is that Nature has a lot of cures already in place, such as good bugs that eat bad bugs and if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing (and I don’t), you can do more harm than good.

There’s often a very small window of time when you can kill the pest you’re after, (like the cottony scale insects seen in the photo here). If you spray the wrong pesticide – or even the right chemical at the wrong time – you might miss the insect you wanted to get rid of but kill the good guys who would have eaten the bad guys for you – predators such as assassin bugs; ladybugs and green lacewings that devour aphids in your garden; or parasitic wasps that suck the life out of tomato hornworms.

For devastating infestations on a precious plant or big tree, I’d call a professional. Otherwise, I prune out obvious damage and let Nature fight it out.

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