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Organic Pesticides – They Are Not All Safe & Non-Toxic

Have you ever read the warning labels on bottles of chemical pesticides? You might be wondering what kind of alternatives there are for protecting your garden from unwanted pests. Most insecticide and herbicide mixtures include chemicals capable of harming humans and animals if ingested. Others are toxic if they touch your skin, and some may be considered deadly to breathe in. Chemical pesticides run off gardens and fields into streams and fields, toxifying their surrounding environment. Many times, correct application is sufficient for keeping chemical pesticides from becoming a problem, but often they are potentially hazardous no matter how you handle them.

No one wants their flowers, vegetables, and other plants infested with pests, however, so you will have to find an alternative means of warding off plant predators if you’ve decided against toxic pesticides. This is especially a must for vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and bushes, flowers grown for clipping, nut trees, or any other plant that comes into close contact with people and animals. Organic pesticides, used for thousands of years to keep plants healthy and people safe, might be the solution you are looking for.

“Organic” Doesn’t Mean “Won’t Really Work.”

The term “organic pesticide” might make you think of something made of smelly compost or a completely ineffective but natural solution. This is far from the truth– an organic pesticide is simply an insecticide or herbicide that is taken from a natural source and cooperates with the environment around it. It typically degrades back into the soil or air without negative effects on the living matter around it and is often safer to handle and store around your home.

Organic pesticides can be made from soap, plants, minerals, or oil. Some can be mixed up at home though you might still have to use caution; while an ingredient like hot pepper oil or laundry detergent isn’t going to harm your health, they may still act as an irritant on your skin or in your eyes. This proves the point that the ingredients in organic pesticides are often super powerful even if they are better for people, pets, and the environment.

Organic pesticides are like chemical pesticides in that they will only work if properly matched to your pest problem. What scares off beetles probably won’t work for aphids, and a natural slug trap won’t decrease your mite problem at all. Once you’ve identified the creatures damaging your plants and vegetables, you can start researching your organic pest control options.

Homemade Organic Pesticides

You might be able to mix up your first batch of organic pesticide in your kitchen right now. Dawn dish soap can be mixed with water and sprayed on plants in your house or out in the garden to ward off insects such as spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids says the SF Gate Homeguide. This concoction is very low in toxicity and shouldn’t harm beneficial insects in your garden, such as bees. Rodale’s Organic Life posts a recipe for a kitchen-made pesticide using garlic, onion, cayenne, soap, and water; all the ingredients are blended together then steeped and strained. This general spray is a bit more potent than dish soap alone, so they recommend using it only where pests are attacking your plants.

Household ingredients outside the kitchen may also be useful for killing off or repelling unwanted insects. Worms in the soil of your houseplants? Make a “tea” out of tobacco from cigarettes, pour into your potted plants, and watch the worms and root lice disappear. You can make a handy fungicide out of leaves from your tomato plants or use talcum powder to get rid of certain beetle varieties.

Other ingredients not typically found in the home but useful for making organic pesticide include citrus oil, eucalyptus oil, chrysanthemum flowers, and neem. Like the ingredients you use from around the house, essential oils and herbal ingredient should be used with care– if they are potent enough to kill off bug populations, they are potentially harmful to humans, at least as irritant. A simple internet search will yield recipes for how to mix up essential oils into sprays and tell you what kind of insects they will work on.

Commercial Organic Pesticides

If you don’t feel like mixing up batches up hot pepper flake tea or handling neem oil, there are lots of commercial organic pesticides you can purchase. Although your local garden supply might not carry a variety of natural insecticide products, online suppliers specializing in organic lawn and garden care should offer a broad range of organic pesticides. The extension office at Colorado State University and similar agricultural sites offer details about which commercial ingredients are organic.

While you can use neem oil in a homemade pesticide formula, it is easy to find premade insecticide mixtures featuring neem as their primary ingredient. The juice and oil of the neem plant has been used as a pesticide in Asia for centuries. Commercial neem mixtures can be sprayed onto the whole plant and is suitable for use with vegetable plants, trees, shrubs, and most plants used in residential landscaping. It helps control diseases, fungus, and mildew while thwarting a variety of insects and mites.

Sabadilla, extracted from lily seeds, is another ingredient seen in chemical pesticides that is considered organic and suitable for home gardening purposes. Ready-made pesticides with sabadilla may be used with most plants, including vegetables. It works against insects like caterpillars, stink bugs, and leaf hoppers.

Pyrethrins mixed with other chemicals in order to intensify their effects are not suitable for organic gardening and growing. However, pyrethrins on their own in the right concentrations are considered organic. They are highly effective and can be used to control a wide range of insect populations at once. Pyrethroids, often sold as insecticides for houseplants, are derived from synthetic sources and cannot be used as an organic pesticide.

Another option for the organic gardener is sulfur. It can be applied as a spray or powder, fights off various forms of mildew and fungus, and controls most common insects found on house plants, vegetables, and flowers. The only word of caution with sulfur, other than avoiding getting it on your skin, concerns other pesticides. If it is used too closely to the application of an oil spray the two together may turn into a toxin. Extreme heat may also allow sulfur to scorch your plants. Just another reminder that “organic” does not mean either ineffective or completely safe.

The Benefits of Organic Pesticides

If you have decided against the use of chemical pesticides in your landscaping and garden you can still protect your plants– and all the hard work put into caring for them– against pests of all kinds. You cannot determine the specific strength and combined ingredients in a chemical pesticide, but homemade mixtures allow you to make a pesticide tailored exactly to your needs as a gardener. As long as you have a little hot pepper, garlic, talcum powder, or any of the other household items mentioned above you can start using organic pesticides on your plants right away.
You still need to use caution when making organic pesticides, but you can rest assured these sprays are far less toxic if they come into contact with people and pets. And even if you are not a DIY person you can still find a wide range of commercial, organic pesticides that are ready to use on your plants. Organic pesticides give you the assurance you are both maintaining your plants and protecting the wellbeing of the people and animals that come in contact with your home garden.

Homemade Organic Pest Control : Make Natural Pesticides

Chemical pest control solutions can end up being more of a hassle than a help in the end. Insecticide, bug repellents, and rodent poison are usually hazardous to the health of humans and pets. Some are so dangerous you don’t even have to get very close to be in trouble since just breathing the air around these products is enough to make you ill. Storing them is an issue for the same reason since they need to be kept securely away from children, pets, and water sources.

Rejecting the dangers of chemical pest products does not mean you have to live a life overrun by annoying, invading creatures. There are countless natural methods for keeping away the common pests that damage your garden or bother you in your house, many of which you can make yourself. Organic does not always equal harmless, but by concocting these pest control solutions yourself you can control which ingredients are used as well as its overall potency.

Organic Pesticides for Your Garden

Neem oil is one of the top organic treatments for home gardens, according to Mother Earth News. When mixed and applied properly, neem can be used to treat most vegetables, flowers, and trees; it wards off or kills a variety of garden pests like aphids, mites, and beetles. You might not find neem oil kicking around your house, but you can easily find it at many home and garden suppliers.

Dawn dish soap and water is one of the most basic pesticides you can mix up at home. The soap is technically toxic, but mildly so, and easily degrades with water, sun, and air. Most friendly insects, like butterflies and bees, are not deterred by dish soap insecticide– this means you can get rid of pests without upsetting the beneficial part of your garden’s ecosystem.

If you want to add a little kick to your pesticide mixture and make your plants even less appealing to pests, make a hot pepper “tea” and add it to your water and dish soap. By steeping and straining hot pepper flakes, you extract the oil that causes their heat. Hot pepper water alone may be used in various concentration to spot-treat vegetables, flowers, and houseplants infested with bugs.

Spiders, Ants, and Other Household Pests

The last thing you want in your home is a toxic chemical used to get rid of pests. Everyone from you to the housecat is at risk if you start laying down chemical pesticides indoors. Here are a few organic, homemade alternatives for taking care of a few common household pests.

Spiders are a nuisance and potentially a hazard when they bite. Organic spider repellents can be made from anything that smells potent. Spiders use their feet to pick up scents and avoid anything too fragrant. You can try making homemade organic pest control solutions for spiders with lemon oil or tobacco. Citronella, either in the form of a candle burning or as oil mixed into a spray, is another effective, natural way to keep spiders away from your home.

When the ants come marching in, turn them right back around with a natural ant repellent made with cinnamon, baking soda, or coffee grounds. You can make an ant trap that will kill them dead with borax powder, sugar, and water. Mix the ingredients in proper proportions, dab a little under a container lid, and prop up the lid ever so slightly. The ants will go in and carry out the certain death as food back to their nest, and you can just wipe up the nontoxic contents under the lid when you’re done.

Stink bugs are a growing problem in the US and while they are not harmful they can be very annoying. To ward off stink bugs naturally, try sprinkling the natural mineral diatomaceous earth where stink bugs congregate. This will dry out the stink bugs, killing them off. If you simply want to repel these pesky insects, make a spray using either garlic or mint. Stink bugs don’t like the odor of either plant, and chances are you have enough of one or the other on hand to make a stink bug spray right away if needed.

Repelling Rodents Naturally

Rat and mouse poisons are among the most toxic pest control substances. They can cause internal bleeding in humans just as easily as they do in rodents; they last so long in the environment they can transfer from the pests who eat them to birds of prey who eat the pests. By avoiding chemical rodent products you are preserving the health of your family and the environment at large.

Finding homemade organic pest control for rodents is a bit trickier than cooking up solutions for bugs in your garden and house. It might be best to think of “organic” solutions in terms of all you can do to get rid of mice, rats, squirrels, etc. that does not involve harmful chemicals. Do whatever you can to make your environment less appealing to animals: seal up food sources like grains and dogfood, keep crates and boxes off the floor so they aren’t tempted to nest, and install an ultrasonic device designed to scare off pests without bothering people.

You can make PETA’s rat and mouse repellent out of salad oil, garlic, horseradish, and cayenne pepper. It is supposed to steep for four days before you strain it and spray the areas you are trying to rat-proof. A natural rodent repellent, along with taking environmental measures like sealing up your house and cutting off foods sources, might be your best bet for dealing with rodents naturally.
This just scratches the surface of your homemade organic pest control options. Even if you haven’t found the natural answer to your pest issues here, know that a little research should yield a homemade, organic alternative to any commercial chemical pest control product you may have been considering. And with a little luck, you may have the ingredients on hand and can start tackling your pest problem with a homemade remedy right away.