Many insects produce powerful smells called pheromones that they use to lure the opposite sex. Scientists have duplicated several of these scents and used them to bait special traps for luring the target insect. But because these “sex” traps attract mostly male insects, they aren’t very effective controls. They’re useful as an early warning that a particular pest is moving into your area. When you find the first pests in your trap, you know it’s time to launch your control strategies, such as putting your row covers in position and applying Bacillus thuringiensis.
Pests monitored: Pheromone lures are available for diamondback moths and moths that produce armyworms, cabbage loopers, corn earworms, European corn borers, tomato pinworms, and cutworms.
These traps—a rigid material of a particular color that’s coated with a sticky substance—are used to catch insects that are attracted to that color. To be effective, the traps must be clean and sticky. Also, use at least one trap (hung at plant height and close to the plant) every 3 to 5 feet.
You can buy packaged sticky traps or make them yourself. To make your own, use any rigid material of the right color (for colors, see below) or that you can spray paint. Cut the material to size (4 ✕ 6-inch rectangles are the standard), and if needed, paint it the correct color. Cover the trap with a plastic bag or clingy plastic wrap, then coat it with a sticky substance, such as Tangle-Trap. (The plastic wrap makes cleanup easy—when your trap is covered with bugs, just remove the plastic and rewrap the trap with a new piece of plastic. Then coat it with more sticky stuff.)
For cucumber beetles, use a mobile trap: Wrap clingy plastic food wrap around a white bucket or other large object, then coat the plastic with Tangle-Trap. Carry the bucket along the rows of vines, shaking and brushing the plants as you go. The beetles will fly up and stick to the traps.
Pests controlled: Yellow traps attract whiteflies, fruit flies, male winged scales, leafhoppers, fungus gnats, midges, male winged mealybugs and leafminers, thrips, psyllids, and winged aphids. White traps lure whiteflies, plant bugs, cucumber beetles, and flea beetles. Light blue traps attract flower thrips, and red spheres attract the flies whose eggs hatch into apple maggots.
Learn more: How to make an all-purpose garden insect pest spray.