What is Natural Pest Control and how do you do it?

Natural pest control is a method by in which you provide constant, continuous restraint of pests by promoting their natural enemies. The long-term approach is also the least toxic insect control method. Chemicals are only used as a last resort and normally chemicals are not needed.
The major disadvantage of conventional insecticides is the ability of the pest to develop resistance. Approximately 500 insects and related pests (mites) have shown resistance. In fact, some cannot be controlled with today’s chemical arsenal.

Even chemicals, which are effective against pests often, kill beneficial organisms. The situation created then allows other insects (not the usual pests but other insects taking advantage of the available food) to rapidly increase in number since no predators are in the field to prevent the population explosion. Sometimes the resulting (long term and economic) damage is greater from the secondary pests than from the pest originally targeted.

The combination of resistance, secondary pests and legal limitations brought about by safety and environmental concerns has increased the cost of insecticides. In addition, a matter of economics to commercial producers is the demand for pesticide-free food (large supermarket chains are advertising independent testing of their produce in response to consumer pressure).

Long-term control is achieved through an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. IPM is an ecological and economic approach to pest control that utilizes various strategies to manage pests. These combined strategies are more effective in the long term than any one strategy used by it. IPM is also very interesting, uncomplicated and it eventually makes achieving your growing objectives easier.

IPM is a process that combines various strategies to produce a long-term reduction of the pest population. The products in this catalog will help you achieve this objective in the most cost effective way and they are the safest for you, your pet and the environment.

Helpful Tips to remember when considering natural pest control:

1. Do a little background reading on common insect pests of the plants you want to grow. Field scout and monitor with traps to identify pests (not all insects are pests!). Learn the pest’s life cycle so that treatment can be chosen and timed to be most effective.

2. Establish a level of acceptable damage (not all pests are of economic importance).

3. Monitor the pest situation regularly. Only when monitoring has indicated that the pest will cause unacceptable damage should treatment be considered.

4. If the pest population is high enough to cause unacceptable damage, use any and all available means of IPM, but start with those least damaging to pest predators and the environment.

For example:

Reduce the pest’s food, water, shelter, growing room and other needs. Enhance the environment for the pest’s predators, parasitoids and pathogens (cover crops can be used to attract pest predators). Select plants that are more resistant to pests.

Hands pick or kill pests physically. Use traps or barriers to keep pests out (sometimes traps alone will give control). Heat or cold can be used to destroy pests.  A regular release of predators and/or parasites (as a prevention and control measure) is part of “conventional” farming IPM.

Biological Pesticides are living or are toxins produced by living organisms (some of which are microbial such as bacteria and protozoa). They are safe for the environment, have little or no effect on beneficial insects, and are in most cases pest specific.

Soaps, Oils and Abrasives are generally “natural”, degrade within several days and are not particularly toxic except to insects. They dehydrate or smother pests, but are not selective in that they also can harm beneficially.

Botanical Insecticides are natural pesticides derived from plants provide a powerful “knock down” to a large number of pests. They leave no residues and breakdown quickly in the environment but can harm beneficial insects.

Pesticides are toxic chemicals. Research shows that pesticides are known to cause cancer, chronic health problems and other adverse health effects in humans and other animals. The health effects of many of these substances are unknown. Using least toxic pest management in your home and yard, you will be protecting yourself, your family, and your pets from unnecessary exposures to toxic compounds.