Controlling Garden Pests Organically
For the health or environmentally conscience gardener, using chemical pesticides is simply not an option. Common chemical pesticides used or stored incorrectly can pose a health risk to you, your family, your pets, and can kill beneficial insects that actually help your garden plants. Moreover, chemical pesticides can eventually find their way into our rivers, lakes, and municipal water sources.
Unfortunately, many gardeners who implement basic organic gardening methods such as companion planting often find that these pest control techniques simply aren't enough to deal with the large number of insects and other pests that may attack garden plants. So what is the organic gardener to do? The good news is that there are many tried and true organic gardening products on the market that deal with most ordinary garden pests.
Here, we've collected a selection of what we feel are some of the best
organic pest control products available. The list includes products
that are designed to control individual insects, such as the organic fire ant killer and organic Japanese beetle killer, and ones for more wide range pest control.
How do they work? Nature herself has provided us with numerous plants
whose extracts make very effective pesticides. For example, many
organic pest control products such as Orange Guard use a citrus-fruit base, such as lemons and oranges.
The active ingredient d-Limonene found in citrus oils kill many flying and crawling insects on contact by destroying the waxy coating of the insect's respiratory system. With their respiratory system damaged, the insect basically suffocates.
Other products use garlic as a base and work to repel insects. Hot peppers and essential oils of herbs such as cloves also work wonders to repel insects and other pests.
SharpShooter natural organic insect killer uses lemon as its base. This is an excellent organic pesticide for the hobby gardener with a variety of plants, as it is designed to kill a host of flying and crawling insects on contact. If you have suffered from problems with aphids, adult whiteflies, bean beetles, fire ants, rose chafers, caterpillars, earwigs, Japanese beetles, etc., SharpShooter is an excellent product to try out. It is safe to use even on the day of harvest.
Green Light's Organic Lawn and Garden Spray is another excellent all-purpose product to repel and kill the most common yard and garden pests including fleas, grasshoppers, ants, mosquitoes, pillbugs, and ticks. The active ingredients of this spray include sesame oil, clove oil, and thyme oil. It works great on a variety of plants including fruits, vegetables, and turf. As a spray attached to your hose, it has the added advantage of being applied to small or large areas of your garden or lawn.
In addition to insects, many gardens suffer attacks from animals which can destroy gardens and eat flowers, vegetables, and fruit crops. Organic gardeners recognize that it is usually humans who are infringing on the habitat of wild animals and not the other way around. This Hot Pepper Wax is an excellent way to keep animals, and even many insects, from damaging your garden without harming the animal in the process. It works well both on ornamental plants and food crops. It is made from one of the hottest peppers around, the cayenne pepper, which serves as a natural repellent for chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, gophers, hedgehogs, etc.
The food grade wax helps to keep the pepper extracts working even after heavy rainfalls. Pepper sprays are a favorite of organic vegetable and fruit gardeners. As a testament to how natural this spray is, you can actually use it on your tomatoes in the morning, and pick and eat them in the afternoon, with no harm to you or your family!
Another outstanding animal repellent is this Organic Deer Repellent, which works to repel deer and other animals such as rabbits and raccoons. Once applied, the repellent lasts up to 90 days. It uses a series of natural constituents such as garlic powder and safflower oil which deer and other animals find unappealing, either because of their smell or their taste.
While animals can be a nuisance, ants are one of the most frustrating pests for gardeners. Ants make nests in your turf that can disturb mowing, and once the nests are established, the ants can invade your home and garden. Additionally, many ants have a very painful sting, and can be a threat to small children. The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is one of the most common and destructive ants in the garden.
For dealing with fire ants, there are a number of effective organic products available. Orange Guard Fire Ant Control can be used alone or part of the Texas Two Step Method for Fire Ant Control. Orange Guard Fire Ant Control is diluted to 3 parts water and 1 part Orange Guard and can be applied directly to the ant mounds. In a recent study by Granosky and Associates in College Station, TX, Orange Guard Fire Ant Control was found to be 95% effective in killing the fire ants at their source.
Orange Guard is basically the same product as the Fire Ant Control, but is used more as a broad range insecticide and repellent. Orange Guard also kills and repels other species of ants, roaches, fleas, and silverfish, in addition to other common insect pests. As with Orange Guard Fire Ant Control, this product is safe to use on food crops, and is not harmful to your pets or your family. You can even use Orange Guard inside your house and in your kitchen without worry.
The FDA has approved the inert ingredients of Orange Guard as Generally Recognized as Safe (G.R.A.S.), which is an approval rating used for food grade products. Orange Guard can also help eliminate fleas from your carpeting when you pre-soak your carpet before steam cleaning. Orange Guard is suitable as part of the Texas Two Step Method for Fire Ant Control.
Natural Fire Ant Killer is a dry granular bait you apply with a shaker directly to ant mounds. You can also spread it around your garden, around the perimeter of your home, or directly in your lawn. It does not require watering to active. It is also one of the steps in the Texas Two Step Method for Fire Ant Control mentioned before.
Fire ants are naturally attracted to the bait and they end up carrying it back to their nest. The bait is intended to eventually kill the queen or leave her infertile. As with other Green Light Products, this natural ant killer is a combination of natural oils that have been approved as food additives and is safe to use around children and pets or with food crops. In addition to fire ants, the bait works great for controlling caterpillars, grasshoppers, ticks, fleas, and centipedes, among other common garden pests.
Japanese Beetles are a well known and destructive pest in the
garden. Adult beetles will eat anything from flowers to fruits. The
beetle larvae attack the roots of common turf grasses and the roots
and stems of other garden plants. Natural Milky Spore organic Japanese
Beetle Killer is an extremely safe and effective way to control this
Milky Spore attacks the beetle in its larval stage as it feeds, so the beetles never reach maturity. As with all the products mentioned in this article, it will not harm pets or humans, and will not affect the beneficial insects in your garden. Additionally, it is safe to use near wells and streams.
While not a direct threat to your plants, mosquitoes can create quite a hassle for the gardener. Thankfully, there are many natural mosquito repellents available to help keep this common problem at bay. We recommend this Organic Mosquito Garden Spray which you can apply throughout your yard with a hose sprayer. The repellent is odorless after half an hour or so, completely natural, and can last up to 60 days. It is made of common food products such as black pepper and garlic, so you know it's safe! It also helps with other flying and biting insects such as gnats, fleas, and ticks.
In addition to these products, there are many simple and effective techniques to eliminate common garden pests. For example, you can easily control aphids and white flies by spraying your plants with a high pressure hose. However, these pests often come back to attack your plants over time.
One of the benefits of organic pest control products is that they are
designed for long term pest control, which means you will spend less
time fighting off pests and more time enjoying your
garden. Additionally, companies are constantly researching new
technologies and products that will be of great service to the organic
gardener. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is
an excellent source of information on these new technologies.
We also recommend this site from California State University for more
a large list of organic pest control solutions.