Organic Pesticides and Herbicides

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Jan 01, 2011
Organic pesticides and herbicides

We have learned to think carefully about the chemicals we use to protect our property (and family!) from bugs and weeds. There is a growing concern about the personal and environmental effects of long-term low-dose exposure to many commercial pesticides and herbicides. One thing that isn’t changing is our desire to avoid these weedy and multi-legged pests as much as possible. Luckily, organic pesticides and herbicides are available on the market. You can also make your own from natural and effective ingredients. Remember to keep even natural products away from children and pets.

Organic Pesticides

The EPA classifies twelve of the twenty-six most-used pesticides in the U.S. as carcinogenic. No wonder people are looking for alternatives! Here are some that are not toxic to humans:

  • Boric Acid. One of the most common ingredients in natural pesticide recipes and consumer products is boric acid, which will help eliminate carpenter ants, termites and cockroaches. For ants, mix together 1 liter of water and 1 teaspoon of boric acid. Soak cotton balls in the liquid and place them in a small container with holes in the lid (large enough for ants to get in). Place this in an area where ants are spotted.
  • You can use boric acid to kill off a termite colony. Make a bait trap with a piece of wood treated with boric acid. To treat a piece of unfinished wood, dissolve four tablespoons of boric acid in boiling water, pour in a spray bottle and spray on wood. Bury in the ground near your foundation where you have an infestation.
  • Boric acid can also help to control cockroaches. Since cockroaches like high spots, sprinkle a little powder in places such as the top of the refrigerator and cupboards.
  • Neem Oil. This oil is extracted from the neem tree of India. It contains a compound called sallanin. When sprayed on leaves, it protects plants from chewing insects like weevils.
  • Insecticide Soap. You can easily make your own spray by mixing two tablespoons of pure castile soap with one quart of water. Spray on plants to control aphids, leaf hoppers, whiteflies and mites.
  • Diatomaceous Earth. This is a dust made of marine organism shells that deters and kills creepy-crawlies such as ants, ticks, cockroaches, earwigs, slugs, and silverfish.

Look for organic pesticides with natural ingredients in home and garden stores. They feature a number of plant oils and other natural ingredients.

Organic Mosquito Repellents

Repelling insects is vital for comfort and health. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine reported that eucalyptus oil (30 percent concentrate with a 70 percent cineole content) will keep bites at bay for two hours, Bite Blocker (2 percent soybean oil) for an hour and a half, and citronella for 20 minutes. Neem oil is also used to repel mosquitoes. The good news is that these oils also repel other pests, such as gnats and ticks.

To repel mosquitos with plants, plant marigolds, mint, pennyroyal, rosemary or wormwood in your garden. Many stores now carry organic repellents.

Organic Herbicides

Getting rid of weeds naturally can be as easy as picking them, root and all. Be sure not to mow or compost them, since doing so spreads the seeds around your yard.

Since the lawn is usually the main component of the yard – and the place where we play with our children and pets – using a natural weed controller makes sense. Instead of typical weed-and-feed products for the lawn, try corn gluten meal. It is a pre-emergent (a product that prevents growth) that controls dandelions, smart weed, crabgrass and more.

To spot-treat weeds, make a homemade vinegar spray. It works by altering a plant’s pH balance. Mix four ounces of lemon juice concentrate with one quart of vinegar and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. You can also pour boiling water on weeds to kill them. Cut off the top of the weed and slowly pour the hot water onto the crown.

Spring mulching is a great way to choke weeds in a flower beds. If you are planting an entire bed this year, incorporate a weed barrier.

Keeping your family and property pest-free doesn’t require harsh chemicals. Stores now carry plenty of natural products to control insects and weeds. Also, the Internet has thousands of sites that contain recipes for organic pesticides and herbicides.

You can prevent bugs naturally with hardscaping and xeriscaping. Learn how to get free mulch, too.

Author Anne Burkley is a writer from central Pennsylvania. She specializes in marketing writing and feature articles on health and home improvement. Want to ask Anne something about her article? Send her a message.

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