Organic Pest Control for InsectsPest Control Without the Use of Dangerous Chemicals
Traditional pesticides are worrying. The EPA warns that potential side effects range from eye and throat irritation to kidney damage and increased risk of cancer. In your home, there shouldn’t be any items that hazardous. Natural pest control methods are much more safe, and though they need more application, they get the job done. This guide will show you the safest methods for lawn and garden pest control.
Common Lawn and Garden Pests
Before choosing an organic pest control option, you should know which lawn and garden pests typically appear. Perhaps in the past you hired a lawn care service or pest control expert, but that person may not always be around. You’ll want to catch these commonly found pests before they become an infestation.
These bugs are scavengers, meaning they feed on nearly anything we do. This makes them a garden and household nuisance. The most prevalent species of ants in lawns and gardens are legionary ants, known for being quick nest builders and their tendency to dig deep into turf. Your lawn and garden plant roots are jeopardized if these are allowed to fester.
For lawns and garden, the most common type you’ll see are spider mites. These small, yellow bugs are quick breeders. They feast off vegetation and leave behind yellow and brown holes on plant leaves. If you see webs around your garden, then there’s a good chance you may have a spider mite infestation.
These tiny, red bugs are one of the nastiest parasites to infest your property. When maturing, chigger larvae climb up grass blades and snag walking hosts. Unlike ticks, chiggers don’t suck the host’s blood, but instead latch onto skin and secrete chemicals that digest the host’s skin cells.
These caterpillars are a menace to both lawns and gardens. They typically feast on dead grass and are also a common pest problem in golf courses. Their usual hiding spots are either in aeration holes, lawn thatch, or soil. If your lawn is freshly aerated or your garden is growing new plants, cutworms will unravel all your hard work. They need to be removed quickly because they reproduce in large numbers. One female cutworm is estimated to lay over 2000 eggs in the span of a few days.
These hard-shelled critters are frequent threats to gardens and lawns. Some types, such as weevils, feed on plant roots in their larvae stage. Others, such as Japanese beetles, will transform the plants in your lawn or garden into a chewed up graveyard.
DIY Organic Pest Control Methods
The organic pest control methods outlined below are the most popular and effective means to rid pests from either your lawn or garden. This list includes safe organic pest control options that are free of the worrisome chemicals commonly found in traditional pesticides.
Insecticidal soaps effectively kill soft-bodied pests, such as leafhoppers, lacebugs, plant bugs, whiteflies, and mites—though it’s not as effective on insect eggs. The most common soaps are mixed into water and sprayed. Comprised of fatty acids and potassium salts, these soaps are biodegradable and do not linger in the environment. An added benefit of these is they supress powdery mildew. There is no residual effect with these soaps: meaning if you don’t spray it on the bug, it won’t work. The recommended routine is to spray once every 5 to 7 days, so you’ll also terminate new hatches. Be careful and avoid contact with skin or eyes because the soap can cause irritation.
How to use: Most insecticidal soaps come in a solid bar, so you’ll have to put it in a spray bottle full of water and wait for it to dissolve. Some soaps can be bought in already mixed spray bottles. Once acquired, apply the spray to your plants.
Neem oil is effective on over 200 species of insects that include serious plant chompers, such as beetles and caterpillars. Derived from the seeds of a Neem tree, a native plant of South Asia, Neem oil is effective as insect repellent. It interferes with insect hormones—making it harder for the critters to lay eggs—and it reduces insect feeding on your plants. This oil is considered safe according to the United States Food and Drug Administration, making it okay to keep around the house. However, avoid contact with skin or eyes because it may cause irritation.
How to use: Mix one teaspoon of Neem oil, half a teaspoon of dish soap, and one quart of water together. Pour the mixture in a spray bottle and apply it to your plants.
Floating Row Covers
If you maintain a backyard garden or a balcony with vegetation, you really should purchase floating row covers. These light, white fabric covers are commonly used by gardeners and veggie farmers to drape and protect your plants. Sunlight, air, and water easily penetrate the material, while insects and birds are kept out. As an added benefit, it provides frost protection because it raises the temperature and humidity beneath the cover. Plants grow better due to the warmer conditions and are less impacted by cold temperatures. The University of Maryland described this method as “an organic gardening tool that improves plant growth and excludes pests.” With these covers, you can easily grow tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers, and other plants that are popularly swarmed by insects. The covers also help prevent a common gardening issue called transplant shock—which is when seedlings adapt poorly to the outside and harden. This reusable shield lasts between two and three years and also steers away attention from larger visitors, such as rabbits and birds.
How to use: With the material, cover your garden or balcony vegetation, then place a heavy object to hold it down and prevent it from being blown away.
Friendly Lawn and Garden Pests
Use critters in your favor: Nematodes are basically tiny worms that can either benefit or harm your plants. While some nematodes kill plants by causing diseases, others benefit your garden by killing soil-dwelling pests such as cutworms, Japanese beetle larvae, and root maggots. These worms are particularly effective and safe form of pest control. Next time you hire a professional pest control company (or organic pest control) or shop at the supermarket, remember to buy them. Researchers suggest nematodes also benefit soil health because they increase the soil food web, enriching the nutrients in the ground. Nematodes are often referred to as biocontrol agents for this purpose.
How to use: When you buy them, they should be stored in the fridge. Take them out when you’re ready to use them and mix with warm water, then pour onto your soil. Avoid applying them to your garden during hot temperatures, or they might perish. A good time to apply the nematodes is in the evening after sundown.