Keeping the bugs from becoming snug in your rug is a priority for homeowners, whether you do it yourself or hire an exterminator. But while chemical pesticides are effective, eco-friendly pest control is better for you and the planet.
Insects are attracted to various types of greenery. The ones that plague your yard and garden are bound to head toward the house when the weather gets cold. Organic pest control protects the “good” bugs and destroys the invaders. Here are some eco-friendly pest control tips that will protect the beneficial bugs.
1. Companion planting
By planting two or more plants near each other with symbiotic relationships, you can enhance their growth, repel insects, and attract the natural predators of these pests. For example, basil, thyme, and rosemary attract ground beetles. Since ground beetles eat Colorado potato beetles, cutworms, tomato hornworms, and corn earworms, plant these herbs next to corn, tomatoes, potatoes, and such.
Petunias also have a scent that deters aphids and tomato hornworms. They’ll also add some color to your vegetable garden. Chrysanthemums keep the ants, ticks, silverfish, and cockroaches away. And the smell of lavender repels most harmful insects and mice.
2. Spices and strong scents
Garlic and chili powder will repel garden pests and deer from destroying your yard. Just place a few garlic cloves in water and place the container in the middle of your vegetable garden. Chili peppers work much the same way, or you can mix a tablespoon of chili powder with water and pour it around your plants.
Ants are bound to find their way into the house. Coffee grounds, vinegar, cinnamon, and lemon juice affect ants’ sense of smell. Odors are not lethal, but they will keep ants outside.
3. Insecticidal soaps and neem oil
You can buy both of these natural products at garden stores. Just mix a few tablespoons with warm water and spray on the plant leaves. Make sure you spray the underside of the leaves as well, because leaf-eating beetles like aphids, spider mites and whiteflies are good at hiding. You’ll have to repeat this process every week or so to make sure you get the little buggers that hatch.
4. Buy beneficial bugs
Parasitic nematodes are tiny organisms that eat larvae and grubs. Minute worms feed on plant roots. Nematodes eat more than 200 species of insects, but they don’t harm roots, plants, animals, or people. Praying mantids have a voracious appetite for moths, mosquitoes, roaches, flies, and aphids. Ladybugs eat aphids and mites, but to keep them from flying away, you need to supply a constant source of pollen and nectar as well. Plant some calendula, chives, and cilantro to keep them happy.
5. Preventive measures for eco-friendly pest control
Water puddles, birdbaths, and clogged rain-filled gutters are mosquito magnets. Clean all outdoor sources that catch rainwater. You can also add Bti, which is a natural bacterium that kills mosquito larvae.
Roaches, ants, and rodents are looking for food. Seal all garbage cans, pet food containers, and compost piles to make your yard less inviting. DON’T leave pet food dishes out for long periods of time.
An infestation of harmful bugs will attract voles, moles, muskrats, mice, squirrels, and rabbits to your yard. And if voles, moles, and other small wildlife get too hungry, they will look for food wherever they can find it … including outdoor trash cans.
You can deter all critters by eliminating weeds and overgrown vegetation around the perimeter of your house. This creates fewer places to nest. Rodents, raccoons, opossums, and other pests build nests in gardens, trees, shrubs, and underground tunnels. Remove woodpiles near the house and clean all bird feeders.
Sticky fly traps trap roaches without chemicals. You can also try sprinkling borax into a pan of cooking oil and water to use as bait. Roaches crawl inside, but they can’t get out. Set out flat containers of beer to attract snails and slugs. Often, they will drown in the liquid. Set out flat beer containers about every 3 feet in the garden, but do not spill beer into the soil.
7. Organic fertilizers provide eco-friendly pest control alternative
The lawn and garden are filled with small bugs that can damage the yard. A healthy lawn is your best defense against harmful pests and weeds. Organic fertilizers are made up of plant-based and animal products such as compost, leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, manure, and decomposed bones. They take a little longer to absorb into the ground, but they don’t burn the grass. Inorganic fertilizers are made up of minerals that can damage plants and the worms that aerate the soil. They also send runoff wastewater full of chemicals into nearby lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers.
No matter what types of products you use, keeping insects away from your home is a challenge. But choosing organic and homemade pest-control remedies keeps the planet and your green thumb green.