Believe it or not, a simple bottle of dishwashing liquid can help ensure that you never have a major pest problem. Of course, there is one catch: You need to inspect
your plants (including flowers, vegetables, woody plants, and turfgrass) every day, or at least every couple of days. That way, you can deal with any little problems before they turn into big ones. Here are some simple ways to battle pests — using that potent weapon in the plastic squeeze bottle:
Handpick them. This is the most effective way to deal with larger insect pests, such as slugs, snails, beetles, weevils, and caterpillars. Just pluck them off the plants and drown them in a bucket of water laced with a cup or so of dishwashing liquid.
Dunk them. If you’d prefer a less hands-on approach, hold a bowl of soapy water under a bug-infested plant, and jostle the leaves. The pests will tumble into the drink and drown.
Vacuum them. Put about 2 inches of soapy water into the reservoir of a wet/dry vacuum cleaner (a.k.a., a Shop-Vac®), and suck up the culprits. Or use a regular handheld model and empty the contents into a bucket of soapy water. Vacuuming works especially well for insects that tend to scamper rather than fly, like lace bugs, harlequin bugs, rose chafers, and carrot weevils.
Clip their damage off. When you find that a few leaves or stems are covered with bugs, just cut off the afflicted plant parts and stick them into a bucket of soapy water.
Pull up their plant homes. Sometimes, one plant will be seriously infested, while its neighbors are clean, or nearly so. In that case, simply throw an old sheet over the buggy plant, pull it up by the roots, and dump it into a tub of water laced with 2 cups or so of dishwashing liquid. Leave it for a minute or two, then drop in in the trash. If any stragglers have found their way to nearby plants, just handpick them off.