Organic pest control effective
TRACY HODGEMany home gardeners use chemical-based insecticides when their yard is suffering from an infestation of damaging pests. These products may help control insects, but have a significant negative impact on our environment. However, there is a safer, more natural alternative to chemical garden products.
Published: October 17, 2012
Published: October 17, 2012
Diatomaceous earth is an easy-to-use pesticide that is natural and capable of controlling infestations of even the toughest garden pests. It is made from the fossilized remains of marine and fresh water diatoms that existed many years ago.
These diatoms are single-celled algae, made of elements such as calcium and silica, which are ground into a fine powder. Silica shells are razor sharp and deadly to insects. These shells slice into the exoskeleton of damaging pests, causing them to dehydrate and die.
Diatomaceous earth comes in two forms, pool grade and food grade. Pool grade diatomaceous earth is often used in swimming pool filters, is chemically treated and should not be used in the yard or garden.
If you are looking for an organic method of pest control, you want to purchase food grade diatomaceous earth for best results, which is safe for use around children and pets. This product is safe for use on food crops just before harvest and will not harm livestock animals.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you are using diatomaceous earth as a garden insecticide. Because this product will kill beneficial insects as well as damaging pests, you should only use it when you have a heavy infestation of insects and your garden is sustaining damage.
Diatomaceous earth will kill lady bugs, assassin bugs and parasitic wasps that help keep your garden in balance, so it is important to keep this in mind before using this product. You can apply diatomaceous earth with any regular garden duster. It is best to apply after a period of rain, so the insecticides won't be washed away. If you see bugs, dust them with the powder and they will usually begin to die within 2 days.
While diatomaceous earth is non-toxic, you should always wear a mask and eye goggles when applying it to your garden, as the dust can be irritating when it makes contact with mucous membranes.
You can use diatomaceous earth on the bark of trees to repel insects or as a barrier for leaf-eating pests such as slugs. When a barrier of this product is in place, slugs will not cross it because of its dusty nature. If you have small infestations of insects, it may not be necessary to use any pest control product. You can try removing bugs by hand and placing them in a bucket of soapy water to avoid re-infestation of plants.
Placing beneficial insects in your garden is another way to keep damaging pests under control, naturally. Many garden supply stores sell beneficial insects such as lacewigs, aphid lions, lady beetles, parasitic wasps and nematodes. These insects feed on damaging pests, keeping them low in number.
If you find spider mites and aphids on your plants and trees, you can try spraying them with a hard stream of water several times a week, which is a process known as syringing. By using water to remove bugs, you can avoid harmful chemicals and keep your plants insect-free.
Insecticidal soaps are chemical-free and easy for home gardeners to make themselves. Simply combine 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap with one gallon of fresh water. Apply to the leaves of infested plants and leave for several hours before rinsing.
Soap solutions are often very effective in eliminating pests, but be careful when applying these solutions as some plants do not tolerate them well. Plants with hairy leaves are often sensitive to soap solutions and may suffer leaf burn when these solutions are used.
There are many ways to keep your yard and garden healthy without using harsh chemicals and insecticides. By using organic pest control methods, you can help keep your environment safe and avoid contaminating food crops.