Almost everyone has to deal with pests. Whether indoor or outdoors, we need to think about eco friendly pest control or green alternatives to toxic pesticides and insecticides.
The Bugman had a great list of things to do to help prevent pests. Some of the best tips:
- Check your outside doors. If you can see light coming in from under the door or you can slide a piece of paper under the door, a bug can crawl in. You may want to install door sweeps or thresholds to keep them out.
- Check for openings around pipes and cables that penetrate an outside wall and seal any you find. These are excellent places for ants and wasps to enter.
- Make sure all of your screens are in good repair and that the doors and windows close properly.
- Install hardware cloth on all attic, roof and crawl space vents in order to prevent rodents and insects from entering. If you have a chimney, make sure you have a chimney cap.
- Keep debris away from the building as this will attract all sorts of insects, spiders, centipedes and rodents.
- Go around the building periodically with a broom and knock down any spider webs. Spiders will not stay in an area where they are continually harassed.
- If you have playground equipment, make sure you plug up the ends of the pipes on the equipment to prevent wasps from setting up housekeeping in them.
- Do not leave outside lights on any longer than necessary. Lights attract a number of bugs and all sorts of things that eat bugs.
- Cut back any branches on trees or shrubs that touch the facility. Ants will often use the limbs of trees and shrubs to gain access to buildings.
- Keep flies away by hanging a zipped block bag half filled with water on your doors or windows that get sunlight. This will confuse the flies.
- Keep rabbits and other small animals away by hanging CDs. This will confuse the animals.
- Yellow Corn Meal spread around the base of plants will control cut-worms.
Less-toxic chemicals for Eco Friendly Pest Control include:
- Borates or boric acid, diatomaceous earth (DE), insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils. Diatomaceous earth absorbs the waxy layer of insects causing them to dry out and die. Put it under wood piles, stones, and other hiding area. Mix it with water to make a barrier around the home.
- Orange Oil is advertised on the radio for controlling termites. You can buy some on amazon and use it yourself for a lot less.
- Baking soda can be sprinkled inside and outside your home and around. Food areas to repel ants and cockroaches.
- Neem Oil repels mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas, and ticks
- Rosemary in a powder form is used as a flea and tick repellent for pets.
- Salt water will kill snails and slugs and can also deter termites and cockroaches when used in crawlspaces or other access areas.
- Sugar can be used as a bait along with yeast and molasses to exterminate ants.
- Soap can kill insects when mixed with water and alcohol. Use 20% dish soap, 40% alcohol, and the balance, water, to create an effective insect spray.
Our Water Our World has a great free guide to a Healthy Home and Garden. It was funded by California’s State Water Resources Control Board.
Some key items I learned from this book include:
- Try to use INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT (IPM) to control pests. “With IPM, the focus is on preventing pest problems through healthy gardening practices and avoiding the use of chemicals when they are not really needed”
- Ask a Master gardener like the ones at UC Davis.
- Many pesticides are very toxic to our water supplies.
- How to control weeds without chemicals
Scotts Miracle-Gro is huge in the lawn and gardening area. They make lots of pesticides like Roundup, and Home Defense MAX we looked at recently. A recent WSJ article highlights there push into more greener pastures and covers how they test products in garden labs.
They are testing Canadian thistle fungus has a herbicide to wipe out weeds. Scotts recently introduced Ortho® EcoSense™ Brand Indoor Insect Killer, which uses soybean oil, we will analyze it next. Their Kill & Contain mouse trade does not use poisons. New “Water Smart” EZ Seed contains coconut fiber that helps grass use less water. Their Ecosense fire-ant bait uses natural soil-dwelling bacterium called Spinosad.
All these products are a step in the right direction away from highly toxic synthetic chemicals.
Roundup Pro, a strong insecticide that is used commercially, is even being used in the middle of a forest in the Woodside area of California. We were a bit shocked to see this sign in the middle of a hiking trail.
Ortho EcoSense Insecticides
Scotts Miracle-Gro has launched the Ortho EcoSense Brand of Insecticides. Having seen all the chemical laden Ortho products in Home Depot, I was surprised to see this. Let’s examine how green this is. Looking at one featured product:
Ortho EcoSense Brand Indoor Insect Killer Aerosol web page states that it is safe to use inside the home and uses 100% natural soybean oil as its active ingredient. Material Safety Data Sheets must be requested from them. We dug one up here.
Ingredients include: Water 40-70%, Soybean oil 18.75%, Polyglyceryl oleate 3-7%, Lauric acid 3-7%, Sodium Caprylate 1-5%, Sodium Benzoate 0.1-1%
Potential health effects:
Eye contact: May cause slight irritation.
Skin contact: Irritation not expected.
Ingestion: Considered practically non-toxic.
Inhalation: May cause irritation of respiratory tract.
Looking at the Cosmetic Safety Database:
This product is far from being really green but is a step in the right direction.
Here is a more green pesticide recipe.
Gophers can be a nuisance in your garden. A tell-tale sign that you have gophers are mounds of loose dirt in your yard. There are many chemicals and traps that are available. A more eco-friendly way to get rid of gophers is to pour a smelly liquid such as fish oil into their tunnel system.
Rats can be a major pain both inside the home and out. One eco-friendly way to control pests is to attract predators such as owls. San Rafael, California installed owl boxes, mounted on 10 foot posts, to attract owls. These proved effective in controlling rats, more so than poison. Poison affects everything in the food chain including animals like lions, dear, squirrels, which may feast on dead rats.
Be sure to read our article Green Termite Pest Control