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I Want Butterflies, but....

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I am new to this website and have enjoyed so much reading many of the excellent forums. I have a problem I hope someone can help me with. I am not new to gardening but for the first time this year I planted butterfly weed and I immediately got Monarch caterpillars and saw my first one come out of its cocoon day before yesterday. It was so exciting and I was absolutely delighted.

Then this morning I took two of my five dogs to the vet and they found fleas on the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. (I have two male Cavaliers and three retired racing greyhounds -- two males and one female.) My dogs have always been on Frontline Plus but apparently its effectiveness is diminishing with time. I now have the Cavaliers on Comfortis, but I am reluctant to change the greyhounds' preventative because Comfortis has not been on the market that long and greyhounds often have odd (i.e., bad)reactions to products that don't bother other breeds.

Since this is Houston, I also have the inevitable giant outdoor cockroaches. I don't have a problem with flies because I use the Rescue fly traps (and I pick up the poop religiously). Before I planted the butterfly weed I bought a bag of insecticide (bifenthrin) to sprinkle around the perimeter of the house. It will also kill fleas if sprinkled in the grass. I have not opened the bag because now I am afraid it will kill the caterpillars.

Is there anything I can use to kill the fleas (and any other obnoxious pests) that won't harm the caterpillars. I don't want to give up the butterflies. They're like an addiction.

Thanks for any help.

Lutz, FL(Zone 9b)

I use granular insecticide as well. The caterpillars won't eat it since they won't recognize it as food.

Melanie

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks so much. I can start to kill fleas now with a clear conscience.

Catherine

Lutz, FL(Zone 9b)

The only thing that really kills caterpillars is BT which is a bacterial spray. Insecticidal soaps would also plug their airholes, but anything granular they won't ingest. Of course, if you have to spray something try to keep it away from your butterfly plants. I have to spray the backyard for mosquitoes every now and then but it's far away from my host plants.

Melanie

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

In the past I have occasionally used a propane fogger for mosquitos. I assume that's out because of the adults, right? I have friends who installed one of those automatic misting systems to get rid of mosquitos and they say that the company swore to them that butterflies are in no danger. Is that possible?

Catherine

Lewisville, TX(Zone 7b)

Coulterc, I live near Dallas, so I can relate to the weather, etc. I have just found out that dried molasses works at getting rid of fire ants!! it's also good for the lawn & gardens & is completely organic. I too have a butterfly garden so I never use pesticides! Good luck!

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

We apply beneficial nematodes to our yard 4X a year to control fleas, roaches, ants, grubs, and a host of other soil-borne pests. They work wonderfully! It's best to apply them late winter/early spring, mid spring, then again in mid-fall and late fall/early winter.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Beneficial nematodes sound good to me. Where do I get them?

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Organic nurseries, feed stores, or online.

Lewisville, TX(Zone 7b)

Calloway's sells them as I noticed this year at the one I go to. By the way, the dried molasses has worked at getting rid of the fire ants in my garden!!!!!

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