Gardening cannot be properly done without being able to dispose of harmful bugs in your plants and crops. However, the excessive use of pesticides could have negative effects on the environment. Although pesticides are very efficient at killing bad bugs, is it really worth it for you to use when your overall health is at stake?
Luckily, there are natural ways to control these termites without resorting to chemicals. In Bob Flowerdew’s book titled “Simple Green Pest and Disease Control”, ‘it is possible to keep your garden chemical-, pest-, and disease-free all at once.’ This goes to show that you can remove these pests naturally – from attracting natural predators of pests, handpicking, tilling, to the use of rough surfaces. Opting for these eco-friendly methods will not only aid you to effectively kill pests, hence, will also help you to practice organic gardening that will greatly save Mother Earth.
For you to have a better understanding of why you should avoid using pesticides, you must first understand the negative effects it has on the environment.
Pesticides are the only internationally accepted chemical that is allowed to be legally used. There are different types of pesticides used to kill different kinds of pests, which are the following:
The use of the pest killers has become a common practice everywhere. It is used for agricultural land, homes, parks, schools, buildings, forests, and roads. They are spread in a variety of ways – from mediums as small a spray can to an airplane performing crop dusting. Since the prevalence of the pesticides in the world, they are not just found in plants but also in the air, food, and drinks. Though it is meant to kill pests, it also has a harmful effect on humans.
Over the years, shreds of evidence point to pesticides as the chemical that is the main cause of the rising health problems in mankind – both physical and mental sicknesses. In May 2010, a study from the University of Montreal and Harvard University discovered that pesticides in vegetables and fruit cause a 200% higher risk for a child to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Here are the effects of pesticides on different living things:
Pesticides have been known as one of the reasons for health problems in men that ranges from nausea and headaches to cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive deficiency. Cancer is twice as likely to happen to a human living in an environment with heavy pesticide use as to a human in a clean area.
The human brain is not fully formed until the age of 12 and pesticides could greatly affect the development of the central nervous system below this age. Proportionally, kids have more skin surface than adults during this time. They also take in more pounds of food and water compared to adults, as well as more air. Because of this high intake and a lack of a fully developed immune systems, they have a higher risk from suffering health problems stemmed from pesticides than adults. It doesn’t help that kids are much more active and are more exposed to different environment where the harmful chemicals may be or have been applied.
Not only can pesticides kill harmful insects, but also beneficial ones as well as soil microorganisms and worms which naturally limit the presence of pests. Given that the agricultural land is damaged, plants’ root and immune systems are weakened, and essential plant nutrients are reduced.
Even though public awareness was already raised by Rachel Carson in 1962 concerning the negative environmental effect of pesticide, the use of it today has only increased since then.
As mentioned above, there are several ways to fight and ward off pests from your garden without resorting to pesticides. In fact, these natural solutions just involve more effort, intelligence, and ingenuity to practice.
Although these methods are less efficient, they have been shown to be able to take care of keeping some of the most persistent harmful insects away from the garden.
These insects are listed below along with a brief explanation as to why they are harmful to the environment and how you can keep them away:
These are commonly seen on the underside of leaves and feed on garden vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants. While they are harmful in small numbers, an infestation will hinder or even stop plant growth completely.
To fight them off, cut off the leaves with heavy infestation and water your plants with a strong stream of water to kill them. Lacewing and ladybug larvae also naturally feed on aphids so encourage these good bugs to thrive in your garden. Plants of the daisy family attract lady bugs, while yarrow, goldenrod, black-eyed susans, and asters will bring in lacewings. Remember this as lacewings and ladybugs will come up often in this article.
A natural pesticide for aphids is a mixture of one tablespoon of canola oil with a few drops of dish soap in a quart of water. Put the solution in a spray bottle and shake it well. Spray infested leaves on the top and the bottom to kill the aphids and discourage living aphids from feeding on those leaves.
This is a huge pest that feeds on cabbage and related plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and turnip. They are considered extremely destructive because they are capable of leaving huge holes in these plants and even reaching the center where they can completely contaminate them with fecal matter.
Spiders, yellow jackets, lacewings, and parasitic wasps are the natural predators of these pests. However, even with the presence of these beneficial bugs in your garden, you will need to give more attention and effort to get rid of cabbageworms.
When you notice big holes in the leaves of your plants, that means that the cabbageworms are still thriving. Begin searching and handpicking these pests and throwing them into a bucket of soapy water. This will kill them. Remember this method as well.
After picking and harvesting your crops, till under the soil where the vegetables are used to be placed to kill the cabbageworm pupae.
These pests look like caterpillars. The difference is they have shiny heads and they live underground. They do most of their damage during the night by cutting off seedling stems. Young plants are also in their kill list as well and they particularly target ones that are in still within the soil or just emerging. A wide variety of plants are prey to this pest such as beets, cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower.
To prepare for these pests, remove weeds and plant debris when planting a new garden. This will stop the larvae from developing because they don’t have anything to eat. When you transfer your plants from one place to another, add a cardboard collar around its new area to keep it safe from cutworms. You can use toilet paper tubes for this.
Cutworms also cannot tolerate rough surfaces, so adding coffee grounds, eggshells, or diatomaceous earth around your plants can prevent these pests from coming close.
Just like for cabbageworms, you can kill the larvae after harvesting. For cutworms, you must pick up the soil debris and turn it over.
Earwigs are both harmful and beneficial. They eat dead leaves and be helpful near a compost pile. However, they also feed on young plants such as carrots and dill.
To keep this from happening, grow these plants earlier in the season so they will be hard for earwigs to eat when the pests mature. You can also bait earwigs with molasses, soy sauce with water, or peanut butter. Use these to lead them into a trap. Collect them and drown them in soapy water.
Both adult and larvae bean beetles are harmful to your garden because both are capable in attacking young pods, leaves, and stems. All bean plants such asbushes, poles, limas, pintos, navies, kindeys, and soybeans are susceptible to damage from these pests.
Bean beetles are most active during the summer. One of the most effective ways to prevent them from infesting your plants and home is to grow your bean plants early so that they mature by the time the season arrives. When the bean beetles come, they will be disappointed that they will have nothing to eat. However, if they still thrive, they can also be handpicked and placed in buckets of soapy water in order to kill them. Be sure to also check the underside of leaves for bright yellow eggs. If you find any of them on these places, kill these as soon as possible.
Lacewings and ladybugs treat these pests like aphids and feed on the larvae and eggs of bean beetles. Diatomaceous earth can also help kill the larvae. You can also use a floating row cover to act as a physical barrier from the pests.
These pests are a huge danger because they eat all kinds of crops faster than they can grow. Even plants in the soil are at risk because the pests can eat their leaves, leaving the plant unable to photosynthesize. They are most active during rainy seasons so be wary of their presence during these periods.
The soft undersides of these pests make them discouraged from traveling through any rough surfaces. Surround your plants with crushed eggshells, diatomaceous earth, and coffee grounds to prevent them from damaging your garden.
While these worms also consume leaves, stems, and fruits, they are particularly harmful to tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
Tomato Hornworms have a huge size, which means they are easily handpicked to be dumped into a soapy water. After harvest, use a rototiller to break up and till the soil. Doing this will also kill overwintering pupae.
Lacewings and ladybugs save the day again because they also feed on hornworms.
Gardening is possible without the excessive use of pesticides. As per the book “Weeding Without Chemicals”, ‘Weed control can be much more simple, inexpensive, and eco-friendly without chemical intervention. Because every weed is best removed with a different method.’ All you need to do is practice a few ingenious methods of keeping pests at bay. Encouraging good bugs, properly tilling the soil, adding rough surfaces, planting early, creating natural pesticides, and even simple handpicking are good practices to make sure that you effectively prevent and control termites and other pests in infesting your plants and your home.
However, if these pests still continue to prosper your home, it is best that you contact a professional pest control service provider and ask for their assistance on this matter. Remember that it is still best that you turn to a professional when your pest issue is already severe.