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Herbicide, pesticide, fungicide, algaecide –generally words that ends in `icide’ are meant to kill something.  Herbicides kill plants.  Pesticides kill bugs.  Fungicides kill fungi.  Algaecides kill algae.  All of these `icides’ need to be treated carefully.

What prompted this was a recent visit to a client’s home.  Our crew arrived and her mosquito control company was at the home fogging for mosquitos.  I sent our crew away.

The mosquito controllers were fogging with permethrin which is a synthetic form of a pesticide derived from chrysanthemums.  Permethrin is a chemical treatment to get rid of mosquitos and other insects.   It has low toxicity unless you are an insect, honeybee, butterfly, fish or a cat. It is a chemical and an `icide’.

The fogging crew was wearing company issued tee shirts, khaki shorts, hiking shoes and ear protection.  The fogging machines are noisy.  But permethrin can be absorbed through the skin and inhaled.  No skin or respiratory protection, but the hearing protection was definitely company provided.

The homeowner was out watering her plants.  Her dogs were wandering the yard.  Before fogging the person should be told not to come out until the chemical dries.  Keep dogs and especially cats inside.  Close the windows.  It is a safe chemical but precautions should be taken.

I have applied my share of `icides’.  I have made mistakes applying them.  I am getting older and maybe a bit more careful so I am more aware with `icides’.  We are using a weed burner for weeds in rock beds.  It is really a flame thrower and only works with weeds in rocks.  It is unforgiving and burns whatever it is pointed at.  But it does kill weeds and is not an `icide’.

We had white flies attack our tomatoes.  I didn’t spray.  Within a week native predator insects gobbled up the white flies.  We tolerate some damage to the plants but the predators did their business.

I guess that’s the point, how much damage can you tolerate.  I don’t want West Nile disease.  I don’t want bindweed taking over our garden beds.  I know our Chinese Lilacs are going to get powdery mildew.  And algae is going to form in the pond.  Bugs happen, weeds happen.  So what `icides’ do we use or do we use them?  And if we use chemicals, use them safest way possible.

Tom Throgmorton can be contacted at tom@throgmortonplantmanagement.com.