Pest control is a part and parcel of every gardener’s life. And most of the wise gardeners seek organic pest control methods that are less toxic and pose less harm to the environment. These methods are also very effective and meet your expectations every time.
But before you rush out to buy the pest control products that are organic, you should remember that the very basic step to controlling a pest is to create a very hospitable growing environment for the plants.
If your garden is healthy, it will not need any pest control. It will also create biodiversity and beneficial insects would do pest control for you.
Before you start opting for organic methods, you should also teach yourself some patience as organic methods are not as quick as synthetic methods. But they are really as effective as synthetic ones.
It would also be wise to remember that you need to identify the offending pest and target a control method that only affects it. You should not make the mistake of applying non-selective chemicals that can kill beneficial insects.
Some of the most popular and effective organic pest control methods are mentioned over here and you should get started with any of them without second thoughts.
If you wish to suffocate the pests, you can’t do better than insecticidal oils as they coat the pests with a petroleum-based liquid that cuts off their oxygen supply. This method of pest control has been tried and tested since a long time. It is mainly used to eliminate eggs and immature insects.
These products are so effective because they break down quickly and spread really well. These products may be less effective on mature insects.
Oils can be used for controlling spider mites, mealy bugs, scales, aphids, psylla and several other insects. As these oils have the potential of harming the plants, especially the leaves, you would do well to read the directions first and then use it.
It is also highly recommended that you don’t use these products when the temperature is more than 85 degrees. You can also opt for testing the product by applying it on a small area and looking for signs of plant damage.
If there is no damage then only you should continue spraying and coat the top and bottom of all leaf surfaces.
These products are highly reliable because they only make the pests sick without having a negative effect on the beneficial insects. They aren’t toxic to mammals as well. One of the insecticides that work wonders is Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt.
You can use it whenever you need to treat a number of worm larvae from cutworms and hornworms to cabbage loopers.
The bacteria present in Bt paralyze the digestive system of the larvae and kills them within a few days. The only side effect of this method is that it’s not fast acting enough.
Diatomaceous Earth is the fossilized silica shells of algae that are microscopic in size and are covered with sharp projections which penetrate and cut the cuticle of an insect. This causes the pest to leak some of the most important body fluids which lead to dehydration and death.
You should also realize that the poison doesn’t lead to a person’s death, it’s the physical abrasiveness of the dust which does the main damage.
When opting for this method, you should only buy natural grade DE as it will ensure your safety because there is a lack of additional chemicals that may harm mammals and humans. Even while using natural DE, you should opt for wearing a dust mask as that is highly recommended.
Diatomaceous Earth is very effective against soft boiled pests like whiteflies, caterpillars, snails, slugs, aphids, thrips, root maggots, etc. A side effect of this method is DE may kill the beneficial insects as well.
If you want to kill ground dwelling pests, you should apply the product to the soil and if you wish to kill other pests, you need to apply it to the foliage, according to an IPM in South Africa. The best time to use the product is in early mornings when the leaves are wet from the rain. You can also use it after a rain.
Neem is a very useful insecticide that can act as a repellent, poison and a deterrent to feeding. It also sterilizes several insect species and can slow or stop the growth cycle of some insects. Neem which comes from India can be used as a soil drench or foliar spray. It can kill a wide variety of pests like loopers, thrips, whiteflies, aphids and mealy bugs.
Neem is nearly nontoxic to mammals and it needs to be ingested to be toxic at all. It can also harm beneficial insects so pick the target area wisely before you spray on.
The final organic pest control is insecticidal soaps that utilize the fatty acids and salts within them to target soft-bodied pests like mealy bugs, aphids, whiteflies, thrips, earwigs, and scales. These soaps penetrate the soft outer shell of pests and cause damage to cell membranes. Then they begin to breakdown which leads to dehydration and starvation.
You should know that these products can be phytotoxic to certain plants so you need to test a small area. They are also harmful to the beneficial insects but pose no danger to mammals and humans.
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