Top 10 Eco-Friendly Pest Control Methods
Eco-Friendly Pest Control Methods That Work Great
Pests can be troublesome – finding their way into our cupboards, gardens, and homes. No one wants to live with marching ants, scurrying cockroaches, hungry snails & slugs, or munching rodents. So how do we deal with these pests?
Historically, the most common way to approach the pest problem has been with “-cides”, chemicals designed to kill. While effective at killing the target pest, they have many negative effects and can harm or kill non-target animals – such as you, your family, and your pets.
Some pesticides do not break down for a long time. They may remain in the soil and are termed residual chemicals (Australian Government Department of Health). These chemicals can remain active and poisonous for years and find their way into ground water (leeching) or spread to surrounding land. Once this happens, the pesticide finds its way into the food chain and can negatively affect many helpful animals. Fish and other animals may get sick or die. Groundwater that has been affected is also harmful for humans to drink.
Additionally, sprayed pesticides can “volatize” which means the gas or vapor spreads to surrounding areas. Chemicals like atrazine negatively affects frogs, causing reproductive problems (Science Daily). Pesticides also hurt bees (Global Healing Center). This is especially detrimental since we need bees to pollinate the many flowering plants that produce our fruits and vegetables.
The harm caused by pesticides extends to humans also. Some people may have sensitivities to pesticides – causing allergic reactions similar to that of allergies to eggs, milk, nuts, and shellfish (Betterhealth.vic.gov.au). Pesticides can also build up in the colon and have been linked to many human issues such as (Nature.com):
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Birth defects
Fetuses and children are particularly susceptible to the toxicity of pesticides. Fetuses may experience behavioral concerns or growth issues. Pesticide exposure may result in fewer nerve cells, lower birth weight, and lower cognitive scores (Global Healing Center). Since pesticides are so harmful to humans and the environment, what are some effective, natural methods to control pests?
Below is a list of the top 10 eco-friendly pest control methods:
1. Cedar oil
Cedar oil is a natural substance produced by cedar trees. The essential oil is a natural insect repellant that prevents the tree from being preyed upon by various insects. It will repel moths, termites, mosquitos, ants, fleas, and cockroaches. It is also safe to use around pets. As an essential oil, cedar oil (along with thyme oil, geraniol, peppermint oil, patchouli, and clove) has been found to be an effective insect repellant. (US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health)
Cedar oil is also a renewable resource. It can be used as an oil dropped into water outdoors to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. It can also be used on collars, tags, or patches worn by pets or humans to repel insects. Cedar wood is also a common remedy in the form of balls, blocks, or wood chips. They can be placed in drawers and closets, used as pet bedding, or outdoors as mulch. Candles made with cedar oil or powdered cedar wood can be burned inside or outside to repel insects.
2. Rodent traps instead of baits
Poison is inhumane as it kills rodents slowly. Also, it could harm another animal or your pet if it eats the poisoned rodent. Forgotten poison baits pose a hazard if found by children or pets. It is best to avoid them at all.
The biggest advantage to traps is they allow you to dispose of the dead mouse. This avoids the problem of a stinking, rotting mouse stuck in a wall. When you use poison baits, you have no control over where the mouse dies.
3. Sticky boards for insects
Sticky boards are great for trapping insects that crawl like spiders, pest beetles, cockroaches, and mites. It traps them without using chemicals. Most sticky boards are covered with a sticky glue layer and occasionally impregnated with scents designed to attract insects. Sticky traps are placed on a vertical surface and changed when full or dusty.
4. Keep woolens in the freezer
It is moth larvae, not adult moths that eat your woolens. One key way to kill them without chemicals is to freeze them out. At the beginning and end of the season, pop your clothing in a plastic bag and freeze it.
Two weeks in the freezer will kill any and all of those pesky little moth larvae. (An added bonus is that the time in the freezer will slightly shrink the natural wool fibers. This will lead to less pilling and shedding as you wear the garment.)
5. Soapy water for ants
Ants are a tricky pest to treat and deter since they so commonly are close to our food, our pet’s food, and our water. Killing them takes some extra care to avoid exposing pets and children to unwanted chemicals.
Ants operate by using a chemical trail. This natural chemical trail “tells” the other ants what trails to follow. Soap (such as normal dishwashing liquid) deters ants and a number of other insects such as roaches. Spray the ants directly with soapy water to suffocate them and use the soapy water to annihilate their chemical trails.
6. White vinegar OR Lemon and Water
For whatever reason, ants highly dislike vinegar. Make a solution of 50/50 vinegar and water to fill a spray bottle. You can spray the ants directly with the solution to kill them and wipe up their trails, similar to the soapy water solution above.
Then the vinegar solution can be sprayed around floors, countertops, and windows to deter ants from entering those areas. The vinegar smell will evaporate as the water dries. But if you hate vinegar as much as ants do, try lemon juice instead. The solution should be one part lemon juice to three parts water. Apply the same way as the vinegar solution.
7. Beer to flight slugs and snails
Slugs and snails can do a lot of damage to a garden. To fight them, try beer. Slugs and snails are attracted to beer. Use a small container like a tuna tin and place it on the ground in your garden. When the slugs and snails crawl into the container, they will drown. (Do not bury the tin in the soil or you may end up killing ground beetles that eat slugs. Keep the rim at least one inch above the soil level.)
8. Electronic “Slug Fence”
Legend has it that copper shocks slugs. Take it to the next level and actually shock them. Instead of using poison, put an electronic slug fence to work. The ribbon-like barrier can be wrapped around the parts of the garden you wish to protect. The ribbon runs off of a nine-volt battery and will power the barrier for about eight months. The electronic slug fence will repel both slugs and snails and is harmless to pets and humans.
9. Diatomaceous earth
This substance is made by grinding up the bodies of prehistoric diatomic fossils. This creates very tiny, very sharp pieces that cause major respiratory issues in small insects that inhale it or the mucous membranes of slimy pests such as snails and slugs.
Because the particles are so small, diatomaceous earth is safe to larger creatures such as children, pets, and wildlife. Diatomaceous earth is considered of low concernt o human health by the Australian Government Department of Health. This makes it ideal for fighting pesky indoor and outdoor pests.
Diatomaceous earth is available in “food grade” which makes it ideal for use in gardens where trace amounts may be ingested by humans. It does not negatively affect the soil or waterways, even when used over time. It is also a potent anti-flea remedy when applied to carpet and cloth surfaces. Allow the powder to sit for a minimum of twelve hours and vacuum up. Repeat every week for a month to kill every last flea.
10. Solar-powered pest control equipment
Solar-powered pest control equipment takes the form of a stake placed into the ground. Tiny solar panels on the top of the stake collect power which is used to produce vibrations under the ground. The ultrasonic vibrations scare off small animals such as gophers, rodents, snakes, and voles that live in small holes in the ground. They are child and pet-friendly.
To sum it up, pesticides will:
- Leech into the water supply
- Poison the food chain
- Kill non-target, helpful animals
Use eco-friendly pest control methods to prevent the deleterious effects of pesticides. There are many methods available, even ones not listed here. Using environmentally friendly pest control will benefit everyone involved (except the pests). Your family, your pets, and the earth will thank you.