Eco-Friendly Pest Management
At Clintar, we have developed and apply sustainable practices in maintaining our commercial, industrial and government clients’ landscapes – this includes an Integrated Pest Management – an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties.
With the proper strategy, and planned application, organic pest control methods are less environmentally damaging, and less toxic to non-targeted insects, mammals and aquatic life than using manufactured chemicals.
A first step in controlling pests is to create the most hospitable growing environment for your plants. Healthy plants are less attractive to pests in the first place, and when they are attacked, the plants are better equipped to defend themselves and recover.
Below are some Eco-friendly pest management options – however, it is important to know how and where to apply these products.
These insecticides cause pests to get sick, are very specific to the target pest, and do not harm beneficial insects, nor are they toxic to mammals. One of the most popular choices is Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). The bacteria in Bt paralyzes the digestive system of the larvae. They stop eating and within a couple of days, the pests are dead.
These soaps utilize the salts and fatty acids within them to target many soft-bodied pests including aphids, whiteflies, mealy bugs, earwigs, thrips, and the early stages of scale. The soaps penetrate the soft outer shell of these and other pest, causing damage to the cell membranes. They then begin to breakdown, resulting ultimately in dehydration, and starvation.
These oils work by suffocating the pest. The oil coats them with a petroleum-based, horticultural grade liquid, cutting off their oxygen supply. This control method has been around for a long time. It is primarily used to kill the eggs and immature stages of insects. These products are very effective because they spread so well and break down quickly. However, these oils can and do affect beneficial insects, but are less toxic to them.
This product is the fossilized silica shells of algae. Although these shells are microscopic in size, they’re covered with sharp projections that cut and penetrate the cuticle of an insect. This causes the pest to leak vital body fluids. The result is dehydration and death. The unique aspect of diatomaceous earth is that it is not a poison that causes the damage, but the physical abrasiveness of the dust.
Neem is a broad-spectrum insecticide, acting as a poison, repellent, and deterrent to feeding. It also sterilizes certain insect species and slows or stops the growth cycle of others. Neem oil is derived from the Neem tree, which is native to India. Neem is applied as a foliar spray, or soil drench. It is used to kill a wide range of pests, including aphids, thrips, loopers, whiteflies, and mealy bugs.
Botanical Insecticides: Pyrethrin
There are a number of botanical insecticides, but we’ll focus on the most popular; pyrethrin. It is the active ingredient extracted from the Pyrethrum daisy. Products containing pyrethrin contain compounds that kill on contact. They are considered broad-spectrum (non-selective) and are used to control many chewing and sucking insects. Do not confuse pyrethrin with the synthetic version called Pyrethroid. It is even more toxic to all insects.
Post Credit: Joe Lamp’l at growingagreenerworld.com