Conservation Corner

Pesticide – Part 2

Pauline Lee

Man has made chemicals to eliminate insects, animals or weeds that are considered to be pests by us. Unfortunately, these pesticides also harm man, other beneficial beings and our environment. Some alternative methods to fighting the pests commonly found around our homes will be discussed.

There are several natural insecticides that are nontoxic to animals and birds and usable on vegetables. A mixture of one cup of vegetable oil and one tablespoon of mild liquid dish soap is an old remedy that can be sprayed on plants. Ground cinnamon spread on orchids can kill fungi. An all-purpose spray can be made by mixing one tablespoon cayenne powder with chopped one garlic bulb and one small onion in one quart water. Then one hour later, add one tablespoon liquid hand soap. The completed mixture should be stored in a covered jar in a refrigerator and is effective as a spray for one week. It repels insect pests, cats, dogs, squirrels and deer.

To get rid of weeds, you can pour boiling water, spray 5% vinegar solution or vinegar solution with few drops of liquid dish soap on the weed.

Some plants naturally repel insects. The following 11 fragrant plants repel mosquitos: Citronella, lemon balm, catnip, marigolds, basil, lavender, peppermint, garlic, pennyroyal, rosemary and geranium. Petunia and nasturtium repel squash bugs and aphids. Basil also repels flies. Chrysanthemums keep away mosquitoes, roaches, beetles, ticks and silver fish. The allium family (chives, leeks, onions, garlic, scallions and shallots) can protect other vegetables against slugs, flies, mites, aphids, beetles and worms, but they can be extremely toxic to dogs and cats and keep mice away. People can plan their garden with natural plant protection against pests that might otherwise infest a companion plant. For example, garlic grown around roses or raspberries will improve their growth and health because it deters Japanese beetles. Rotating crops in alternating years on the same land also cuts down on specialized insect predators that harm certain plants. So smart planting can promote higher yields and healthier soil.

Biological pest control can use natural enemies. Toads, birds, ladybugs and praying mantis eat harmful bugs. Assassin bugs devour caterpillars, leafhoppers and aphids. Other predators are lady beetles, lacewings and spiders. Some types of wasps and flies may develop as parasites on a single host from eggs or larvae deposited by the adult parasite. Many beneficial insects can be purchased online, or they can be attracted to sugar water made with five ounces of sugar in a quart of water.

Finally, physical methods can trap pests too. The quickest way to remove clearly visible pests is using your hand or tool to remove them. Or you can buy sticky traps to reduce populations of specific insects. Ultrasonic pest repellents are also sold for various animal and insect pests. As you can see, pests can be eliminated without pesticides. Why not consider using these nontoxic methods to preserve our environment and our health?