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Pest Control

With the growing evidence that chemical pesticides are harmful to human health, many gardeners are looking for smart, organic solutions for pest control. Most problem pests can be controlled naturally, eliminating the need for toxic pesticides or harmful chemicals. We provide the information – and experience – to help you maintain a beautiful, chemical-free yard and garden that’s healthy for you, your family and the environment.

Got bugs? Visit our Pest Problem Solver for help!

Controlling Insect Pests With Birds

Bird and Garden InsectI’m recalling one of the great sights of spring gardening this cold February night: working the soil for the first time and having birds descend to pick out the slow moving grubs that had been hiding under the earth. Sure, the birds got a valuable earthworm or two, but not so many that it would dent the population. Those worms began to tunnel back almost as soon as daylight hit them. And many were still buried deep — very deep — where my turning fork couldn’t yet reach them. But those grubs, twisting and turning on top of the freshly spaded clods. They made for easy pickings.

Of course, that got me thinking about watching birds work the garden in the summer, feasting on insects, caterpillars, and whatever else they can find. (more…)

The Effect of Pesticides on Beneficial Insects

Pesticide EffectYour industrious Planet Natural Blogger has been reading up on beneficial insects lately for a project he’s doing and has been reminded of several things. First of all, how important the role of beneficial insects is; yes to the organic gardener with pest problems but also to the environment at large. Secondly — and sadly — the effect of pesticides on predatory and parasitic insects. Now it’s not as if we need reminding of that last fact. But it underscores the extent of the consequences pesticide applications carry. And it calls to mind the balance, both the one naturally occurring in the environment and the one organic gardeners try to establish in their garden by introducing beneficial insects when called for.

Many beneficial insects — lady beetles, spined soldier bugs, minute pirate bugs; even praying mantis in some areas — exist naturally and are frequently spotted by gardeners. Others — predatory mites, trichogramma wasps — are present but harder to spot, their number increasing only in response to pest infestations. It’s important that all gardeners learn to identify them, so as not to confuse them with insects that harm your plants. (more…)

Venus Fly Traps

Venus Fly TrapBy Kim Haworth

I know this will sound stupid, but I’m sitting in my office weeping into my keyboard because some damn fool stole my Venus Fly Traps. I adored them, and now they are gone. These adorable little plants did everything but talk back to me. All through the summer, they caught everything from yellow jackets to beetles to those big mosquito eaters. I would stop for my morning visit and see the leaves shaking furiously, accompanied by ghastly buzzing. The little plants held onto their pray like grim death. There were even some volunteer Sundews that grew in the same pots with the fly traps and they were absolute murder on the ant population. The little executioners captured everything except spiders, which I have the feeling were too smart to fall for their lures. I have never had plants that gave me so much pleasure, and now they’re with somebody who doesn’t know how to care for them.

It’s not like they looked great or anything. They were well into their dormant period so some of the leaves were black and withered, the saucer was green and scummy and the leaves that were left each held the remnants of a grisly meal. Why would anybody steal something like that? (more…)

Beneficial Insects for Pest Control

Beneficial InsectHow to Properly Use Beneficial Insects

Although chemical pesticides are widely used in many agricultural systems, the complete reliance on chemicals is no longer a feasible approach to pest control for the following reasons:

Resistance

The major disadvantage which continues to erode the effectiveness of conventional insecticides is the ability of the pests to develop resistance. Approximately 500 insects and related pests (mites) have shown resistance. In fact, some cannot be controlled with today’s chemical arsenal.

Secondary Pest Problem

Even chemicals which are effective against pests often kill or interfere with beneficial insects and other organisms. The situation created then allows an insect (not the usual pest, but another insect taking advantage of the available food) to rapidly increase in number since no predators are in the field to prevent the population explosion. Sometimes the resulting (long-term and economic) damage is greater by the secondary pest than by the pest originally targeted. (more…)

Ladybugs for Pest Control

Ladybug and LeafLadybug, ladybug, fly away home, Your house is on fire, your children all gone.

Most of us know that classic rhyme from childhood, but adults, particularly gardeners, have a new-found appreciation of the humble ladybug. That’s because certain species, including the most common one - Hippodamia convergens - prey on pests. There’s at least one Internet website that refers to ladybugs as the “Tyrannosaurus Rex” of the Insect World because of its predator tendencies.

Like many insects or animals, ladybugs, while useful, are misnamed. It isn’t a bug, but a beetle. Beetle lore has it that the ladybird beetle – as it’s known in Europe – was named after the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages. Today they are native to almost all parts of North America with approximately 400 different species with 98 of them residing in Florida along with retirees and other lovers of sunshine. Worldwide, entomologists have identified some 4,500 species. (more…)

Questions About Beneficial Insects

Praying MantisTake the Planet Natural true or false test and find out how much you know about beneficial insects. It’s also a fun way to learn more about how “good bugs” can help you grow a better garden.

1. Beneficial insects only dine on other insects. True or False

False. Insects. It’s not just what’s for dinner for beneficial insects. Depending on their life cycle, beneficial insects spend time where they exclusively eat nectar and pollen. This is important to know if you want to keep beneficials healthy. You need to ensure an adequate supply of all food types for beneficial insects to keep them strong. Treat them well by growing what’s known as “insectary plants.” Hedge rows work, but if you don’t have the space, consider planting a border of dwarf fruit and flowering trees mixed with flowering shrubs and perennials. Other insectary plants include fennel, angelica, coriander, dill and wild carrot. (more…)

Oh Deer… Not My Garden!

Deer in GardenKeeping Bambi Away with Deer Repellents

Nothing can be more picturesque than the sight of a deer loping through a field – unless it’s on its way to the garden and chews your plants to the ground. That’s when Bambi, the beautiful beast, turns into a destructive pest that you don’t want around.

It’s happening more and more as deer populations grow and humans build homes in what was once rural deer habitat.

What do deer eat? Anything vegetative, although they become less picky the hungrier they get (just like humans). They also eat a lot. The average adult male can consume more than five pounds of food each day. (more…)

Natural Born Pest Killers

Pest ControlRemedies for Home Pest Control

Not everybody likes cucumbers. You may be interested to learn that ants hate cucumbers, especially cucumber peels. You’ll especially appreciate that fact if you want to get rid of them. Just spread some cucumber peels – the more bitter, the better – where ants enter your home and they should get the message. Consider cucumber the “anti-welcome” mat for ants.

Cucumbers are one example of home pest control. It’s using natural and generally non-toxic ingredients to repel or get rid of bugs including ants, wasps, mites, moths, flies and other insects.

People are slicing up cucumbers instead of spraying Bug-Be-Gone because they don’t want toxic chemicals in their homes or in their garden sheds. There is growing evidence that synthetic pesticides pose a health risk to humans and animals.

Here at Planet Natural, we have a whole slew of natural pest control solutions, including Orange Guard ($8.95) which uses d-limonene, or orange peel extract, to control insect pests; Organic Mosquito Fogger ($8.50), which uses plant oils, like geranium, rosemary and peppermint, to kill and repel mosquitoes; as well as a variety of traps including the Indoor Fly Trap ($6.95) and Pantry Pest Trap ($6.95). (more…)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Pest ManagementLong term natural pest control is the most cost effective approach to managing insect pests. This method provides stable, continuous suppression of pests by promoting their natural enemies. The long term approach is also the least toxic method of controlling insects. Chemicals, used only as a last resort, are normally not needed.

Why not just spray?

Most chemical insecticides have very poor aim: they cannot target a particular kind of insect, but blast everything in their path, killing not just the pests but their predators as well. The white flies will go, but so will the ladybugs which feed on them. This means, ironically, that these products are effective for only a limited time. Because they cut such a broad swath through the insect kingdom, they leave a “hole,” an ecological niche, into which the pests can easily return–unless you spray again, and again. Toxic insecticides, therefore, are a tactic of limited use.

There’s another compelling reason to avoid toxic sprays, and this is their tendency to move up the food chain. Remember DDT? This was the insecticide used so widely in the fifties and sixties, until it was found to be weakening the eggshells of birds who fed on the poisoned insects. (more…)

Grasshopper Control with Modern Baits

Grasshopper NymphsSemaspore Bait, a Persistent Biological, and EcoBran for Quick Knockdown

How To Use

Modern baits provide lasting protection from grasshoppers one which:

* Kills grasshoppers at their source — the hatching beds — where they are concentrated, before they can migrate to your crop.

* Persists throughout the hatching and growing season and at least through the following year.

* Provides quick-kill of any survivors from the hatching beds or migrants from other areas which might threaten your crop.

Semaspore Bait (the Nosema locustae protozoa attached to wheat bran) is the bait which is applied to the hatching beds — grassy areas, particularly those with southern exposure and more-sandy soil. This biological agent is only toxic to grasshoppers, killing about half those in the hatching area, and infecting most of the remainder. These infected survivors (which eat little and lay few and infected eggs) are necessary to infect new hatchlings and migrants, through cannibalism — this provides the persistent protection. The disease also carries-over to the next year via the infected egg cases and infected cadavers which overwinter. (more…)

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