6 Methods For Natural Pest Control
6 Methods For Natural Pest Control
What Is Natural Pest Control?
Since the beginning of agriculture, pests have been an issue for growers. In the last century, chemical pesticides have become commonplace to tackle pest problems. We are now discovering the potential damage caused by certain chemicals. The advantages of using pesticides do not surpass the potential risks.
Natural pest control has been gaining popularity over the last few decades. More information on the risks of using chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers has been revealed. As a result, natural pesticide options and non-chemical practices are now available to gardeners and farmers.
(Featured Image: Ants And Aphids by Ashley Wiggins)
Top 6 Natural Pest Control Methods
It is important to consider both the safety and efficacy of natural pest control methods when evaluating them. These are the top 6 natural pest control methods that are easy to implement and effective to use:
1. Companion Planting
Companion planting is the practice of planting certain crops together that complement each other in some way. This can include using plants that repel pests or attract beneficial insects. For example, planting marigolds alongside tomatoes can help to repel nematodes. Other examples of companion planting include planting beans alongside corn to provide nitrogen to the soil, or planting basil or other herbs near vegetables to repel pests.
2. Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is the practice of alternating crops in a particular area from year to year. This can help to prevent the buildup of pests and diseases in the soil. By rotating crops, pests and diseases that have built up in the soil from one year can be starved out in subsequent years, reducing their populations. It can also help to maintain healthy soil by preventing nutrient depletion and improving soil structure.
3. Manual Removal
Handpicking pests like caterpillars, slugs, and snails is a simple and effective way to control their population. This method can be time-consuming, but it can be a good option for small gardens or for controlling localized pest populations. Be sure to dispose of pests properly so that they don’t simply return to the garden.
4. Beneficial Insects
Attracting and releasing beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps can help to control pest populations. These insects can either feed on pests directly or lay eggs that hatch into larvae that will consume pests. Attracting beneficial insects can be done by planting specific plants that they are attracted to or by purchasing and releasing them into the garden.
5. Natural Sprays
There are a variety of natural sprays that can be made from ingredients like neem oil, garlic, and hot pepper that can help to repel or kill pests. These sprays can be effective against a range of pests and are safer for the environment and beneficial insects than chemical pesticides. Natural sprays are commonly accepted in sustainable gardening. They can also be less expensive than purchasing commercial pesticides.
6. Physical Barriers
Physical barriers like row covers or netting can be used to keep pests out of specific areas. For example, row covers can be used to protect plants from flying insects like cabbage moths or aphids, while netting can be used to keep birds or squirrels from eating fruit or vegetables. Barriers can be effective and long-lasting but may require more upfront investment than other natural pest control methods.
Pest Control For Home Gardens
Home gardens are often a target for hungry pests. Your prized vegetable garden is not only attractive to you, it is also attractive to many insects and mammals as well. There are several natural remedies that can be effective when applied to home gardens.
Essential oils is a commonly used natural pesticide in raised beds and in-ground gardens. Peppermint and eucalyptus oil can be combined in a spray bottle to make an effective natural deterrent against flies, roaches, and spiders. This method of pest control is best for smaller gardens, as it is not cost effective to make large amounts of this natural pesticide.
Conserve Water And Deter Pests
Many insects, such as gnats and flies, are drawn to moisture. This is another reason they are so attracted to your home garden. If you create a garden design that is built for drought tolerance, you will likely see fewer flying insects near your plants.
By using plants with a high tolerance to dry conditions, such as native plants, you’re able to let your soil dry out thoroughly before the next rainfall. This helps keep the surface soil dry and uninviting to many common pests.
If you are utilizing water conservation methods for sustainable gardening, make sure you invest in the proper equipment. If you are using a rain barrel to capture rainfall, make sure the barrel remains covered so pests cannot access the water in the barrel. This will help prevent contamination and slow the spread of larvae.
Cover Your Soil With Organic Matter
Covering the topsoil surrounding your plants can be another effective way to deter pests naturally. Using organic materials such as grass clippings, sand, or rocks around your plants creates an uninviting habitat for many flying insects who prefer to lay eggs in soil.
You have a dual benefit of moisture retention when you cover your soil as well. This ensures that even on hot, sunny days the moisture is more likely to stay deeper in the soil compared to when it is open to the sun. Organic matter can also breakdown into the soil, providing a natural fertilizer for organic gardening.
Routinely Monitor Your Plants For Pests
If you notice a change in the way your plants grow, it could be a sign of insect activity. Sometimes these changes may not be as obvious as bite marks on leaves. Other signs of pest activity can include:
- changes in leaf texture or color
- drooping leaves
- spots near the soil
- webs near the leaves or stem
- stunted growth
If you notice any of these changes on your plants or in your garden, take action. Do research on the damage you have found and start looking closely at any surrounding plants. If you confirm you have a pest issue, implement pest control methods immediately to ensure you prevent a full-blown infestation.
Be Consistent With Pest Control
Consistency is key when it comes to successful pest control. The effectiveness of many of these methods depends heavily on routine application. When you pause your pest control efforts, you run the risk of an infestation. Preventative pest control is the best option when it comes to keeping a healthy organic garden.