Generally, it’s best to try physical and biorational pest control methods before resorting to chemical controls. However, this requires careful observation of pest behavior and migration patterns as well as knowledge of the pest’s natural enemies.
Eliminate shelter and nesting areas by removing piles of debris and trimming brush near your home. This can help prevent rodents from entering your house or garden.
1. Boric Acid
Boric acid is a white powder that can be found at most hardware stores. It is commonly used to kill ants, roaches and other household pests. Some people even use it to get rid of crickets. Is boric acid safe to use around pets and children? Does it really work to kill crickets? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more!
Boric Acid is a natural mineral that is considered less toxic than table salt. It is used in a variety of household items including laundry detergent, cleaners and more. It is also used as a natural pest control for a wide range of insects including cockroaches, ants and termites.
It is available in a number of different formulations including boric acid dusts, treatments for crack and crevices, emulsifiable concentrates, tablets, pellets, and pastes. It is best used in hard to reach areas where other products might not be able to reach such as behind walls and electrical outlets. However, it must be applied in a dry area as it will lose its effectiveness when it becomes wet.
When sprayed or sprinkled, boric acid acts as a stomach poison for insects such as crickets. It works by blocking the insect’s respiratory and digestive systems, leading to death within a day or two of ingesting it. Boric acid is non-toxic to humans and pets when properly applied. It is also non-staining and odorless making it a great option for indoor use.
It can be used alone or in combination with other methods of pest control such as traps or baits. For example, boric acid can be combined with a sugar and peanut butter bait to make an effective roach bait that will also kill crickets. This bait is then placed in areas where the cockroaches are most likely to be encountered.
Another alternative to boric acid is spinosad, which is a naturally-occurring bacteria that kills medflies, caterpillars, leafminers, fruit flies, thrips and other insects by interfering with their nervous system. It is safe to use around plants and can be sprayed or mixed into a spray bottle to treat insects in your yard.
2. Insecticidal Soap
Insecticidal soap (also called horticultural soap) is effective at controlling a wide variety of insect pests. It is gentle on plants and non-toxic to humans, animals, birds and bees and can be used on both indoor and outdoor houseplants. It is also very economical and safe for the environment compared to chemical sprays. This is because it uses plant oils instead of harsh chemicals.
It can be purchased ready to use in a spray bottle or as a concentrated solution that you mix yourself. The label will usually list potassium salts of fatty acids as the active ingredient. It is recommended to buy the concentrated form as it will save you money in the long run since you will be able to make many more sprays per liter of water.
When mixed and applied correctly, it is very effective at killing small soft-bodied insects such as aphids, beetles, caterpillars, flies, leafhoppers, mites, thrips and white flies. It is also great for controlling mildew and other fungal diseases on houseplants. It should be sprayed on all surfaces of the infested plants, including the undersides of leaves. It is best to apply it in the early morning or evening, as it may cause phytotoxicity if sprayed on hot days.
As with all garden and yard products, follow the instructions on the label for the correct concentration and application. Be sure to dilute it to the proper strength as too much can be harmful. Insecticidal soap is compatible with many other products and fertilizers but should not be used on rotenone-based insecticides, Manzate, Dithane or copper sulfate, Bordeaux mixture or any type of metal fungicide.
Using a clean spray bottle, mix equal parts of the soap concentrate with water. It is recommended to shake the jar well before each use so that all of the ingredients are mixed evenly. Pour the solution into your spray bottle and screw on the lid. When you are ready to apply, give the jug a shake before removing the lid and then spray directly onto any visible insect pests.
3. Natural Pest Repellents
It can be a total bummer when your carefully tended house plants or garden are suddenly overrun with bugs. But you don’t have to resort to toxic chemical pesticides if there are safe, natural ways to deter them.
Herbs are a great way to naturally deter bugs from your home and garden. Plant herbs like basil, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, thyme and citronella around or near your garden to keep the pesky critters away. You can also make a natural bug spray with fresh or dried herbs. Add a couple of tablespoons of the herb powder to a cup of water and mix well to form a spray. Alternatively, simply dip strips of cotton cloth into the mixture and hang them around your garden.
Other easy and effective natural insect repellents include garlic, onion and pepper sprays. These are simple to prepare using ingredients you already have on hand and can be used on both vegetables and flowers. Simply mix the ingredients in a spray bottle, and shake before applying. The strong scent of these natural pest control methods will quickly drive the bugs away.
Essential oils are another simple and natural method of keeping pests away from your garden, flower beds and home. Lavender oil, for example, is not only known to promote relaxation and enhance your sleep, but it also has the added benefit of warding off flies, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. Peppermint and lemon eucalyptus oils are excellent for repelling insects as well. They can be added to witch hazel or apple cider vinegar for an all-purpose homemade bug repellent.
You can also try creating natural barriers for slugs and ants to prevent them from creeping into your home or garden. Sprinkle chalk around entry points to your home, as these creatures hate the calcium carbonate found inside the chalk. Similarly, you can create barriers for snails by burying beer in soil around the edges of your garden beds. You can also use sand, copper or ashes to prevent these critters from moving into your garden. Lastly, you can attract bats to your garden by building a bat house, as these are some of the best natural insect eaters.
4. Insect Traps
Insect traps are the most basic monitoring tool available for pests that plague flower or vegetable gardens. Yellow, blue, and white sticky traps are the simplest and most inexpensive tools for tracking aphids, thrips, whiteflies, leafminers, and other small flying insects. These traps can be purchased at many garden outlets, and homemade versions can be made from plastic plates or cups thinly covered with petroleum jelly, Vaseline, or a non-toxic sticky insect barrier (available at garden stores). Inspect these traps frequently during the growing season to monitor pest populations and control them with targeted sprays as soon as they appear.
There are also several types of passive collecting traps that can be used to monitor specific insects, such as a malaise trap, funnel-shaped trap baited with pheromones for a specific species of beetle, or pitfall traps placed in soil rimmed level with the ground. These traps require more frequent cleaning and may need to be rebaited, especially after it rains.
Some traps take advantage of an insects’ attraction to carbon dioxide, such as the popular CO2 mosquito trap. These traps often rely on plumes of carbon dioxide, whether generated from dry ice or by the exhaust of a propane burner, to mimic an exhaled breath and draw blood-feeding mosquitoes in.
Mosquitoes are a problem in many landscapes, and they can be easily controlled by eliminating standing water and treating outdoor areas with a natural larvicide. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki, or BT, is a safe and effective alternative to traditional chemical products for controlling mosquitoes, and it can be applied to birdbaths, landscape ponds, and other water features, as well as garden hoses, where it will kill mosquito larvae while remaining safe for wildlife, pets, and children.
Other traps target specific insects, such as noctuid moths that chew through the stems of new spring growth and leave ragged edges. To monitor these damaging moths, place 2 or 3 traps per tree in early spring and examine them for larvae. Alternatively, a piece of cardboard tube encircling the base of vulnerable seedlings can help prevent cutworms, as long as it is inspected frequently for moth eggs and larvae.