3 Natural Alternatives to Pesticide for Garden Pest Control
The damaging consequences of pesticide exposure have been well-documented the past couple of decades. From causing long-term health effects like birth defects to being linked to long-term bee population declines. Although industrial pesticide is largely seen as the culprit, we should still collectively play our part to help reduce pesticide exposure to our surrounding communities.
Instead of using chemical pesticide, try any of these natural eco-friendly methods to keep the pests at bay. These methods may not necessarily give instant results, but they are much more sustainable over the long-term and more beneficial for your health.
Not all insects are pests. As gardeners, it's important to differentiate the good bugs from the bad ones. Biological control is a method of reducing pests by introducing natural enemies. For example, one way of keeping caterpillar populations in check is by introducing natural predators like ground beetles and damsel bugs. These bugs, for the most part, will leave your precious plants alone as their diet primarily consists of smaller animals like the caterpillar.
While some beneficial insects can be bought and shipped to your doorsteps, it is more sustainable over the long-term to attract beneficial insects that may already exist in your area. There are typically three conditions that need to be fulfilled to attract them: shelter, water, and food. The type of shelter will vary by species. For example, ground beetles like to take shelter in areas that have a diversity of perennial plants. Praying mantis, on the other hand, like to stick around foliage plants, where they can easily blend in and wait for their next prey. Keep in mind that biological control isn't limited to just insect predators. There are plenty of other wildlife species that could play a beneficial role. Examples include: birds, hedgehogs, frogs, and bats.
Growing vegetable or fruit crops in your backyard? Another natural pest control method to consider is companion planting. This refers to the concept of growing plants that provide some sort of benefit to its surroundings. Such benefits could include repelling pests, providing nutrients, or providing shade and support to the main crops.
In the context of pest control, one great companion plant is the lemongrass. A common ingredient found in natural insect repellents is citronella oil, which is extracted from lemongrass species. According to the National Pesticide information Center, citronella oil could repel pests by masking scents that are attractive to insects. Placing lemongrass plants around your backyard is unlikely to fully ward off pests like mosquitoes but it could at least form the first barrier of defense to ward off annoying pests.
DIY Natural Traps
Citronella oil is not the only natural ingredient that could help ward off pests from your backyard. Consider creating your own DIY pest traps by using other natural products such as diatomaceous earth, vinegar, and baking soda. Here is one interesting fact of the day. Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. The powder has sharp microscopic edges that lacerate the exoskeleton of most insects that come in contact with it. This eventually causes the insect to dehydrate and die. If you plan on creating your own natural pest traps then do be patient. Depending on the scale of the pest infestation, it could take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks to see notable results.
Pest season will be soon on its way so go the eco-friendly route by using natural alternatives to chemical pesticide products.