Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY (mostly) organic pest control

Effective organic, or mostly organic, pest control can be a very difficult process.  However, with careful "scientific" observation and research anyone should be able to effectively control pests in the garden and around the house with mostly organic methods.  While traditional chemical pesticides are extremely effective they can be a little too effective when they kill beneficial insects.  Chemical pesticides definitely have strong negative health side-effects that if we knew the truth about we probably wouldn't be messing around with as much.  I became a lot more serious about going organic when I learned that scientists often inject mice with pesticides in order to induce cancer or severe allergies (They are injected with higher concentrations than we deal with but it still makes me want to avoid them).  Not that chemical pesticides don't have a place in pest management, I just like to avoid them as much as possible.

So how does a regular person begin doing their own organic pest control?  First you must identify what insects you are dealing with.  In my garden at home I identified three problem insects: cockroaches, crickets, and green caterpillars.  At my work garden I identified cockroaches and crickets.  I observed these insects eating my produce both during the day while tending my garden but also by going out and seeing what was happening at night with a flashlight.  Going out at night was extremely beneficial in that I found almost "Egyptian plague" numbers of crickets around my house.

Three of my preferred semi-organic pest controls.  NiBan-FG uses Orthoboric acid to kill insects when they eat the bait,  diatomaceous earth kills insects as they crawl across it, and Semaspore bait infects crickets and grasshoppers that eat it with a parasitic microbe.  Be sure to wear a face mask when applying diatomaceous earth and to use 'food grade".  Pool filter diatomaceous earth is significantly more dangerous to breath in and should be avoided.  These products, and Bacillus thurgingiensis, can be found online just by typing their name into a search engine.

Second, after identifying the pests I researched online effective organic treatments for these pests.  There are a whole host of organic pest controls and I began testing some.  With each one I used careful observations were made of what effects they had and if they were effective or not.  For example, with chemical pesticides I found slightly decreased growth of my plants but all the insects, including beneficial ones, were dead.  Even the lizards were killed by the pesticides.  Garlic and chili pepper deterrents were also tested.  Both slightly reduced pest problems but not enough.  They were very effective against deterring rabbits though.  Then soap sprays on the plants were tested, also not very effective.  After working though this process of testing and observing I finally came across three products that were effective for my gardens.  Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria killed catapillars effectively, Semaspore greatly reduced crickets, and NiBan-FG killed the roaches and crickets.  Food grade diatomaceous earth was also found effective at killing all kinds of bugs when placed
A "pet" lacewings.
in locations where bugs usually hide.  Corn meal was also extremely effective for controlling ants.  Through more careful observation I learned the most effective times and ways of applying these items.  Over time, beneficial organisms populated my yard, also taking care of some of these and other pests.  I now have an abundance of lacewings (effective aphid control), praying mantis (effective at controlling all kinds of bugs), and lizards (also controlling all kinds of bugs).  Yes, I love all my beneficial organisms!  They are like my little pets.

Finding this combination took me several years and a lot of trial and error but it has been worth it.  Patience and a willingness to try new things is the key.  I am still looking for more effective treatments through careful observation or information I come across.  Also, this pest control costs about $30 per year compared to the hundreds people often spend on chemical pesticides annually.

DIY mostly organic pest control
1. Identify the pests.
2. Research and locate items that control these specific pests.
3. Apply pest control and observe results.
4. Repeat until you come up with a satisfactory solution for your home/garden.
5. Keep observing and be willing to try new things.

The key is careful observation, researching new solutions, and PATIENCE!  Trial and error is the name of the game, you must be willing to accept error!  Each region/area/person has a different set of problems and therefore a different set of solutions.  Any solutions you find specific to your situation can be of great help to others.


  1. Organic pest control is actually a safe way to take care of a healthy garden of plants and vegetables.

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  2. Another technique is to use Diatomaceous earth which will kill ants along with other insects. It's basically the fossil remains of single celled creatures called diatoms. They have very sharp surfaces and they cut through the cuticle of the ant causing it to die of dehydration

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