Guide to Environmentally Friendly Pest Control

Pest Control

Consider these non-chemical pest control methods that are better for both the environment and your personal health. Natural methods of controlling landscape pests include installing insect-repelling plants, using natural products, and keeping up with appropriate cultural controls.

Last week’s blog tackled identifying warm-weather pests. Next, it’s time to look at pest control. However, it’s not as simple as spraying a standard pesticide anymore. We now know that chemical pesticides and fertilizers can harm our health and the environment; more and more landscaping companies, homeowners, and farmers are turning to natural pest control methods.

What’s the Deal with Runoff?

You’ve probably heard about how polluted runoff affects the bodies of water it enters. Chemical pollutants play a big part in this process, resulting in toxin-filled runoff that significantly impacts marine ecosystems.

Not only do chemical pesticides end up in runoff, but they also reduce the nutritional content of crops and threaten the health of humans. Studies have even linked these pesticides to chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Fortunately, you can still control landscape pests without using dangerous and harmful chemicals. Read through our suggestions for natural, environmentally friendly pest control methods.

Plants That Naturally Repel Insects

Certain plants act as natural pest repellents. What’s more, adding these plants and flowers to your landscaping will incorporate color and interest while keeping the unwanted bugs away. These are just a few suggestions:

  • Petunias repel aphids, tomato worms, leafhoppers, and asparagus beetles
  • Marigolds deter plant lice, mosquitoes, and even rabbits
  • Garlic repels carrot root flies, aphids, Japanese beetles, and root maggots
  • Chrysanthemums keep out spider mites, ants, silverfish, Japanese beetles, ticks, and cockroaches
  • Citronella repels mosquitoes
  • Lavender deters mosquitoes and gnats

Natural Pest Control Products

Take a look at these environmentally friendly products that work to deter landscape pests:

  • Plant oils help to eliminate soft-bodied insects, targeting their eggs and their colonies. Neem oil, citrus oils (linalool and limonene), horticultural oil, and mineral oil decrease the chance that plants will become infested.
  • Mineral insecticides use specific methods to kill insects and to prevent them from laying eggs or feeding. Kaolin clay, iron phosphate, sulfur, and diatomaceous earth are all effective mineral insecticides.
  • Insecticidal soaps effectively eliminate soft-bodied insects, provided that they make direct contact with the target insects.
  • Cedar sawdust repels mites, fleas, and chiggers when applied to lawns.
  • Plant extracts, like pyrethrum (sourced from chrysanthemums), can be used for various landscape pests. These extracts come in aerosol, dust, and spray forms for easy application.

When using any of these products, follow the directions carefully. Apply only the amount directed and only on plants for which the products are recommended. Most natural products need regular reapplication.

Appropriate Cultural Controls

Cultural controls are essential in preventing pest issues and infestations. For example, trim back garden beds regularly to keep hiding spots to a minimum and keep mower blades sharp for regular lawn mowing. If you notice bugs on your plants, use a strong stream of water to spray the plants and knock off the insects.

Combine these methods into one integrated approach for the most effective pest control for your landscape. Incorporate resistant plants into your garden, apply natural pest control products, and use appropriate cultural controls. Choose your approach based on your plants’ needs and the types of pests you have identified or suspect to be causing an issue. Always read labels, and don’t hesitate to make adjustments based on what you observe to be effective or not.

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