As gardeners, farmers, landscapers, and everyday lawn owners, we depend on various methods of pest control to ensure our outdoor spaces support beneficial plants and insects and eliminate invasive species.
The problem is that many of these pesticides damage the ecosystem and are associated with human health concerns. Considering we use 45 million pounds of pesticides each year, the threat to the planet and our families should be taken seriously—and that’s where organic pest control methods can make a difference.
In an effort to protect the planet, save the bees, and limit our exposure to toxins, many of us have made the move away from commercial, human-made chemicals to organic pest control methods.
But what does that mean, really? If you do a quick Google search, you’ll see the definitions for organic pest control vary widely.
At its core, this method avoids the use of human-made chemicals in favour of more sustainable solutions that support a balanced ecosystem. This can include using natural chemicals like vinegar or boric acid, adding helpful nematodes to soil, creating bug barriers with crop covers, and strategic companion planting to reduce the likelihood of infestations.
Specific examples of popular organic pest control methods:
Spraying essential oil blends instead of commercial insecticides. The oils work to suffocate the pests, but therefore must be applied directly to work effectively. Peppermint oil can used to deter spiders, ants, and ticks. Cedarwood oil can be used to protect against aphids, moths, slugs, and snails.
Colourful sticky traps can be hung near growing crops to catch unwanted mobile insects like fruit flies, whiteflies, and leafhoppers.
Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) is a bacterium naturally present in soil. It can also be sprayed onto infested plants, but note that different strains control different pest populations. This particular strain can kill hundreds of species of caterpillars, cabbage worms, and tomato hornworms, but it can also harm beneficial insects if you’re not precise with spraying.
- Supporting a healthy soil system by adding microbes like fungus and bacteria that control both weeds and insects.
Organic pest control is about much more than managing infestations. It’s about nourishing the ecosystem in such a way that reduces our reliance on intervention techniques in the first place. It’s about actively working with nature to maintain a healthy balance and support soil for generations to come.If you want to see a full list of organic-approved pesticides, check here.