At NCAP, we empower people to research and employ alternatives to pesticides. Use this guide to help you in your quest to manage pests without pesticides! NCAP has limited staff and resources and by researching your own solutions, you save NCAP time and money that we can use to focus on advocating, researching and hosting educational events about alternatives to pesticides.
Pest Identification & Biology
If you have a pest problem on your property, the first step should be to research it. To understand pests, it’s good practice to look up the life cycle of the pest. Some resources have been included below, but they are by no means all-encompassing.
- For plant diseases: see the American Phytopathological Society disease lessons
- For insects: try the OSU's pest diagnostic clinic webpage or their pocket guide to common natural enemies of nursery crops and garden pests
- For weeds: try the OSU Plant Clinic webpage
For identification, try these sites:
- Photo Gallery of Pacific Northwest Weeds
- Weed Science of America Identification Guide
- Oregon State University Dept. of Horticulture Weed Identification Module
- Identification of Natural Enemy Species
- Natural Enemies Gallery
Pest Management Practices
Once you've identified your pest and its life cycle, the next step is to research what ecologically sound practices you can employ. This is the same process NCAP has used in the past to provide recommendations. Look for organic and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices. Be aware that since these links access external organizations, management suggestions may include the use of pesticides which we do not endorse.
Look up the pest or pathogen in a handbook.
To help guide you, these handbooks have an “O” next to all management practices that can be used in organic production.
- Disease: https://pnwhandbooks.org/plantdisease
- Insect: https://pnwhandbooks.org/insect
- Weed: https://pnwhandbooks.org/weed
Additional Sources for Information on Alternative Pest Management Practices
- ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture
University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
Western SARE Learning Center
- Washington State University Beneficial Insects Guide
- Pests: WSU Pest Leaflet Series
- A Comprehensive Listing of Pests for Agricultural Crops
Ask an extension agent!
These agents are state employees and they’re here to serve you! Be sure to let them know what types of solutions you’re looking for (For example: organic), and they’ll provide you with recommendations. Extension agents are typically employed through land-grant universities, so to find them, go to your local land-grant university. In the Pacific Northwest, these include: Washington State University, Oregon State University and University of Idaho.
- Oregon State University Extension
- Washington State University Extension directory
- University of Idaho Extension by county
Check NCAP's resources pages
- Home and Garden Indoor and Outdoor Pests
- Home and Garden Weeds, Lawns and Landscaping
- NCAP's Agriculture Projects and Resources
If you don’t see what you’re looking for in a handbook or on our website and your local extension agent doesn’t have any recommendations, go straight to the source and look it up in Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com)! This is a database of scholarly research publications. This is the source of virtually all extension recommendations. Although many of these publications are behind a pay-wall, many aren’t! And luckily, you don’t need to pay to read the abstract (or summary). Simply search for the pest of concern and the word “management,” “organic management” or “integrated pest management” to find a list of the research that’s been done internationally on your pest of concern.
Still Need Help?
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, post a comment on this page to see what advice local farmers and gardeners can offer!
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