Stock your shelves with good reference books


People often ask me to recommend good books to help manage pest control issues. Because of this I’ve decided to put together a list of the books I use most often to help me with my bug work.

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My Reading List

* “Plant Protection: Managing Greenhouse Insect and Mite Pests.” This is a new publication by Raymond A. Cloyd. It is a must-read for anyone who works with pesticides. This is because today’s pesticides are smarter, and to get the most out of them you need to understand how they work as well as which pests they work on. This easy-to-read book covers how insects and mites feed on plants, how pH affects your pesticide sprays, tank mixing and more. At 96 pages, it may not seem like a long book, but these pages are packed with some of the most useful information on pesticides that you can find anywhere.

Available from Ball Publishing, (888) 888-0013. $30. ISBN 978-1-883052-60-7.

* “Natural Enemies Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control.” With the current pressure to become more sustainable, many growers are looking for help understanding the specifics of biological control. On the pest-management side, one of the most important things is knowing how to identify a pest. There are many books on insects, but having one that focuses on beneficials is a must in today’s “greener” world.

This is the best book for leaning about beneficials. Not only does it have loads of color photos (180 to be exact) but it also has some of the best line drawings of beneficials’ life cycles. It covers naturally occurring beneficials as well as beneficials that can be commercially purchased. It has a super useful table where you can look up what’s bugging you and find the beneficials to control it.

It is very reasonably priced at $35 for 154 pages, so it should be on every grower’s bookshelf. My copy of this book has become quite tattered over the years because of all the miles it has traveled. Get this book from UC IPM at (800) 994-8849. Publication 3386-H, ISBN 1-879906-37-6.

* “Knowing and Recognizing: the Biology of Glasshouse Pests and Their Natural Enemies.” This is a comprehensive book on biological control. It covers in-depth information on many commercially available biocontrol agents. It is it a little more focused on greenhouse production, but that information can be taken and applied to ornamental nurseries. It has 288 pages with amazing color photos and life cycle information.

Available from Koppert Biological Systems, $106.31.

* “Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs.” Knowing the specific insect that you are dealing with can sometimes be most of the battle. If you are looking for a solid insect identification book, this one fills that bill. It’s a monster book, 672 pages with more than 1,400 photos of common insects. It was compiled by Whitney Cranshaw, one of the great U.S. entomologists. This book doesn’t offer control recommendations, but it’s essential for general identification.

Available through $19.77.

* “Insects That Feed on Trees and Shrubs.” As far as the biggest book out there, “Insects That Feed on Trees and Shrubs” is worth every penny per ounce (the book weighs over 5 pounds). Written by Warren T. Johnson and Howard H. Lyon , this oversized book has volumes of information on the most common insects and mites that attack landscape and nursery plants. More than 900 pests are covered. What makes this book so useful is not only can you look up pests by name, but it is also indexed by host plant. So if you are not sure of the pest, you can look up the plant and easily cross-reference a list of the major pests that normally attack it. You can then flip to the page numbers provided to see photos and read about the biology of the pest. This is a very useful diagnostic tool when you are not sure what the problem is. If disease is a problem, get the companion book, “Diseases of Trees and Shrubs” by Wayne Sinclair and Lyon.

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All growers should have both of these books in their office. The Insect book has 560 pages and is available from many places.

- Suzanne Wainwright-Evans