Organic Gardening Insect Glossary Q-T

Organic gardening Insectipedia insect glossary Q-T is a free resource of garden insects, insect terms, and helpful information.

rock phosphate

Rock Phosphate is the commercial term for a rock containing one or more phosphate minerals of sufficient grade and suitable composition for use as an organic fertilizer. Rock Phosphate can last up to 3 years in the soil. It is often recommended as a control for certain insects and underground diseases.

Root crop type

Fleshy taproot
Black Salsify
Cylindra Beets

Lateral root
Irish Potatoes
Jerusalem Artichoke
Sweet Potatoes


If the plant is not chewed, but is showing signs of stress, such as wilting, discoloration or stunted growth, pull up the plant and examine the roots. You may find that it is an insect causing the root damage.

One or more symptoms to look for:

root damage

  1. Root discoloration
  2. Tunneling - examine the inside of the roots
  3. Punctures marks pit marks or bore holes
  4. Swollen roots
  5. Sections of roots sliced off
  6. Root deformity
  7. Scared underground parts


Normally about 90% of the time insects will only attack unhealthy plants. Just as humans who are healthy, so are healthy plants that are on a good diet less susceptible to disease and insect attack. The fist step in insects control is to have a healthy soil. The first step in soil management is crop rotation. Rotating the types of crops from season to season, helps reduce insect and disease build-up.

Just rotating diverse crops types is not enough. Your rotation should make sense, i.e. follow heavy feeders with heavy givers and then light feeders

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Rotenone is a plant-derived insecticide made from the roots of several tropical plants - Derris, Cube Barbasco, and Timo.

Rotenone is harmless to warm-blooded animals, but will kill beneficial insects, and fish.

Rotenone has a very short residual action, losing its protection after three to seven days. It is most effective as a spray, and any wettable powders should be filtered through cheesecloth first.

A United States native weed called Devil s Shoestring (Tephrasis virginiana), contains 5% rotenone. This plant was used by the American Indians to poison fish.

Rotenone can be obtained commercially, but make sure it does not contain synthetic toxins manufactures mix in to increase it s effectiveness. Pure rotenone can be safely used on all crops and ornamentals, but only as a last resort.


Ryania is an alkaloid insecticide obtained from the roots and stems of a South American shrub (Ryania speciosa). It has both contact and stomach-poisoning action to insects, including beneficial insects. This natural insecticide is considered quite safe to warm blooded animals. It is not persistent, that is it can be used near harvest time, but only as a last resort.

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Sabadilla is an alkaloid insecticide obtained from a South Central American lily that is ground into a dust. It has been used since the 16th century.

Sabadilla is less toxic than rotenone and is generally used for the same purpose. It is not persistent, that is it can be used near harvest time, but only as a last resort.
CAUTION: Sabadilla dust can irritate mucous membrane and bring on sneezing fits, And Honey Bees are vulnerable to the dust. Use with caution.


Collard Greens
Head Lettuce
Leaf Lettuce
Mustard Greens
New Zealand Spinach
Swiss Chard

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Sawflies are solitary insects. They deposit eggs in stems, buds, or leaves, which the female cuts with saw-like tip on her abdomen. Eggs hatch into larvae, that look similar to Caterpillars.

Sawflies in Knowledge Base:
European Apple Sawfly
Pear Sawfly


The scale insect is better known by the females than the males. Males have one pair if wings and the mouthparts are missing. The females are wingless and they create a waxy or powdery covering over their soft bodies. they feed upon the juices of plants.

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The most basal segment of the antenna. The scape houses the antenna movement muscles.


Predaceous. They seize prey with pincers and may sting it. The sting may be painful, and in a few species, the sting may be fatal.

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Slug and Snail Traps


Smut is a Fungi

Corn Smut (Ustilago maydis)
Onion Smut (Urocystis cepulae)

Parts of the plant develop galls. Galls range from
1/4 to 8 inches. When the gall bursts, it releases masses of black spores

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soap spray

Various non-detergent soaps (detergents are not soaps) have long been use as a safe homemade insecticide. Soap kills with its fatty acids by attacking the insect's outer soft membrane and there is no pesticide residue to contaminate the environment.

The insects that are most vulnerable to soap are Aphids,
Mealybugs, Mites, and Whiteflies. Beetles are the least susceptible. Potassium based soaps are more effective than other household soaps. The water or spray is harmless to warm blooded animals and beneficial insects. Safer's insecticidal soap is easier on plants than most household soaps.

Caution: Soap may seriously damage foliage. It is best to test your solution on a few leaves first. Spray the leaves a few hours after spraying.
In general, use three tablespoons of soap per gallon of water.


Social insects live in organized communities or colonies, with division of labor and castes. The social insects are Termites,
Ants, Paper Wasps, Bumble Bees, and Honey Bees.

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Common name: Soft-Rot Scientific name: Erwinia carotovora

Region: Throughout the United States, Southern Canada, and parts of Europe.

Life cycle: Soft-Rot enters the plant when a carrier insect bites into plant or through wounds. Soft-Rot begins decomposes the layer between cells, digesting it and moving onto new tissue.

Soft-Rot can subsist in the soil by living on dead organic matter.

Physical description: Causes growing and stored crops to form soft watery rot and smell offensively.

Host crops: Many vegetable and ornamentals.

Controls: Resistant varieties are not known. Before storing, check all vegetable for decay and let soil on roots dry. DO NOT
WASH BEFORE STORING. Store at lowest possible temperature recommended for the particular vegetable.

The best control is to keep the soil healthy and allow for good drainage. Beneficial soil organisms found in compost and humus will control Soft-Rot.

solitary wasps

Many solitary Wasps prepare special nests which they provision with food, and in which they lay eggs. The emerging offspring have an adequate supply of food from parents they will never see.

Some solitary wasps lay eggs in nest cells with an inadequate supply of food, or even with none. These wasps return from time to time to feed the young with more prey directly.

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Predaceous, either pursuing or stalking prey or trapping it in webs. Large spiders will sometimes bite, and a few are poisonous (e.g. Black Widow Spider) The majority of spiders are beneficial, feeding on small insects.


Stickem is a safe natural sticky commercial compound that can be used as a trap or barrier. Available in most garden centers.

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Insects may not be the reason crops are stunted or appear dwarfed. Lack of water, poor soil, or disease may also contribute to this condition. If one puts their energy into building a healthy soil, all except lack of water may be eliminated.

Sulfur (S)

Sulfur is the quality element in crops and too often is not considered a major plant nutrient. Sulfur is of major importance in the defense mechanism of the plant. Low sulfur will invite the invasion of insects and disease. In all crops, sulfur is necessary for the formation of chlorophyll and the rate of photosynthesis.

Maintaining optimum sulfur levels should be a priority, along with establishing a balance between other soil minerals, in order to get maximum yields and quality crops.

Sulfur is becoming deficient in many soils especially those in high rainfall areas where acid leaching soil conditions are the general rule. A biological source of sulfur, preferably from animal manures, is the most reliable source of this mineral. Nevertheless, supplemental sulfur may be needed.a

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Supply artificial food

Supplying artificial food is a way to help keep Lady Beetles and Green Lacewings and other beneficials around when natural food is scarce. A mixture of one part granulated sugar (not too much) and four parts water is squirted on low-level plant leaves. Placing watering sites (shallow pans or shallow bird baths) throughout your organic garden also helps beneficials.

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A cluster of associated body segments.

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Tanglefoot is a safe natural sticky commercial compound that can be used as a trap or barrier. Available in most garden centers.

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Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is dangerous if taken as an infusion, but intercropping it with fruit trees and vegetable crops will repel Borers, Japanese Beetles, Striped Cucumber Beetles and Squash Bugs, Flies, and Ants. Tansy is very high in potassium, which makes it a good compost plant.

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The tarsus is subdivided into sections (tarsomeres) to form a flexible foot. It is used for locomotion, grasping, and digging.

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Tent Caterpillars

The moths in this family (Lasiocampidae) are medium in size (.8 to 1.5 inches) with a light colored band across the forewings. The mouthparts are nonfunctional and subsequently live only a few days. Eggs are banded around small stems and covered with a foamy brown substance which hardens. They hibernate in the egg stage, which is around nine months. The larvae are yellowish to black, with blue or orange spots or lines. They are covered with long fine hairs.

They live in colonies and create tents in forks or crotches of trees for shelter. The silken threads are created as they move away from the nest to feed. This pest often defoilates fruit, shade and forest trees.

The Tent Caterpillars in this knowledge base are: Eastern Tent Caterpillar Forest Tent Caterpillar

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terminal leaves

A bud located at the tip of a stem is termed a terminal bud or leaf. Terminal leaves or buds are growth points. Terminal buds are normally on the stem but can be on roots or leaves in some plants.

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The thorax is the central tagma of an insect's body to which the wings and legs are attached. The thorax is divided into three segments: prothorax, mesothorax, and metathorax. This is a very muscular region, since the motion of the insect is brought about through the action of the legs and wings. The thorax is specialized for locomotion.

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The tibia is long and somewhat cylindrical in shape, often loaded with spines or long hair for grasping and sound production. In honey bees the tibia is part of the pollen collecting apparatus.

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tobacco dust

Since the late Seventeenth century tobacco and its alkaloid, nicotine, have been used as a insecticide. Tobacco is deadly to insects and toxic to animals. It dissipates rapidly from plants that have been sprayed or dusted. It is useful against soft-bodied insects such as Aphids, Greenhouse Whiteflies, Leafhoppers, Psylla, Thrips, and Mites.

It can be used either as a dust or spray. Mix the dust with soapy water and then spray the foliage. Rinse the plants with water after each application so the foliage does not burn.

Note: Roses (flowers) will turn black if sprayed with tobacco.

Use only as a last resort. Tobacco has a devastating effect on beneficial insects. And will make humans sick if you ingest it.

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Encourage toads to stay in your gardens. By placing saucers of water in your garden and providing safe shelter (half buried clay pots) you will make it easier for garden toads to do most of your work for you. Toads can consume up to 10,000 insects in three months including small Slugs and Snails, Cutworms,

Crickets, Ants, Caterpillars and Squash Bugs.

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tracheal system

A system of tubes which distributes oxygen throughout the body.

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The Trochanter may be very small in many insects, triangular in shape and acts as the articulating segment between the coxa and the femur

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