Homemade Organic Pesticides: Protect Yourself Without Killing
In the treatment of home and garden pest control, there is a wide range of chemicals on the market that claim to eradicate the problem. The pesticide industry is huge and these chemicals are widely used in the farming industry to protect crops from infestation, as well as being advertised to keep the home pest-free. However, chemicals should be used with extreme caution and sometimes only as a last resort, due to the hazards that they can pose to humans, domestic animals, various forms of wildlife, and the wider environment.
When you are seeking to resolve a pest problem in your home or garden, there are a number of different organic, DIY pest control solutions that can be incredibly effective, many of which can be simply applied with a spray bottle. With varying options available depending on the type of bug, these methods should be tried before resorting to strong chemical solutions.
Below are some widely used and effective solutions to protect you, your family, and your garden from bug infestations, without damaging the environment or killing harmless wildlife.
Neem oil is highly regarded for its pesticide properties and versatile use. This vegetable oil is created from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree, an evergreen tree originating in India. It is widely used in both pest and medicinal treatment. The oil varies in color from yellow to red or brown and has a strong odor, somewhat similar to garlic. Its bitter taste means that it is rarely used in cooking but is an effective insect repellent.
Neem oil solutions are widely used in organic farming and with a few simple ingredients, you can create a neem oil spray to tackle pests of your own. Combine one teaspoon of the oil with a small dash of soap and one liter of warm water. This solution can be stored in a spray bottle for easy application to affected areas. For use in the garden, neem oil solution can be sprayed directly onto the plant. It is safe for plants and wildlife but is highly effective against many garden insects that may cause damage to your plants and vegetables.
When used in the home, neem oil is an effective treatment against common pests such as bed bugs and termites. Although it does not kill bed bugs directly on contact, it will prevent them from laying eggs and ultimately eradicate the problem. It can also be sprayed on termite nests, wooden surfaces and any other areas of the home which are currently infested or prone to infestation.
This fine white powder is made from ground sedimentary rock, which, although safe for human contact, has an abrasive surface for small insects and razor-sharp edges which can cut through insect shells. The powder also has physico-sorptive properties, which means that it can absorb vital liquid from the outside of insects’ bodies and kill them through dehydration. There are different variations of diatomaceous earth available for purchase and you should take care to use a food-grade option, which is safe for inhalation. Pool-grade options are not completely safe and can be harmful to both humans and pets.
This organic pesticide is subject to regulation from the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and must be EPA approved. Furthermore, care should be taken when using diatomaceous earth in the garden. Although highly effective against unwanted garden pests such as slugs, the nature of the earth means that it can also cause unnecessary harm to important wildlife species such as bees.
When used in the home, diatomaceous earth can be spread on the floor around infested areas and nests to treat a wide range of household pests such as bed bugs, cockroaches, and ants.
Boric acid occurs naturally in minerals such as borax, boracite, ulexite, and colemanite. It is commonly found in volcanic regions and is present in many plants and also seawater. The acid has a multitude of different uses in medicine, nuclear power, pyrotechnics, and insecticides.
Similarly to diatomaceous earth, boric acid is safe for use and non-toxic to humans meaning that it can be used in and around the home.
Similarly to diatomaceous earth, boric acid is safe for use and non-toxic to humans meaning that it can be used in and around the home. The powder is abrasive to exoskeletons and is used in the treatment of cockroaches, termites, and silverfish. It can be particularly effective against cockroaches as they do not die immediately upon contact with the powder, but rather slowly and often once they have returned to their nest. Cockroaches are cannibalistic insects and, therefore, the nest mates will too, in turn, ingest the boric acid and perish due to the abrasive and poisonous properties.
Naturally occurring, organic oils can also be combined with water to create an effective repellent spray. Tea tree oil is a widely used mosquito repellent that is an organic alternative to chemical products and safe for use when applied directly to skin. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which mean that it is commonly used in a range of medicinal treatments, such as soaps and creams for sensitive or irritated skin. While it can be greatly beneficial to humans, tea tree oil is toxic to many different forms of pests, making it an effective pesticide.
Due to its relatively low cost, tea tree oil can be obtained easily and used plentifully without breaking the bank. To protect from mosquitos and midges, simply mix 20–25 drops of tea tree oil with 1 liter of water, apply to the skin and top up every few hours. To repel bed bugs, termites, ants and other home pests, spray the tea tree oil solution in the corners of each room and also in any nooks, crannies, cracks, and crevices where they may be inclined to nest but take care to avoid electrical outlets. You can also use the solution to spray your bed, sofa and any furniture which may be at risk of bed bugs or termites.
Garlic is one of the easiest organic pesticide ingredients to get your hands on, as it is plentiful in the supermarkets and a staple of our food. Its pungent smell alone is enough to deter some insects and mask the sweet, attractive smell that may draw them to your prized plants in the first place. What’s more, its strong juice is powerful enough to kill soft-bodied insects and molluscs immediately. Used in an organic spray, it is highly effective at tackling sap-sucking insects such as aphids.
Garlic sprays are widely available in stores as a pesticide, but an effective solution is easy and cheap to make at home. Source fresh, organic garlic bulbs and blitz 10–12 cloves in a blender with a liter of warm water. Ideally, you should let the solution rest and infuse for 24 hours, before straining it to remove the remaining garlic pulp. Add one cup of cooking oil to the final mixture and your organic pesticide is ready to go. Spray the affected plants and areas every 2–3 days until the problem has been eradicated. You may also want to top up the plants after rainfall, which may wash away the oil.
To prevent future pest problems, gardeners advise planting garlic bulbs among sweet smelling flowers to mask their scent from unwanted insects. It’s an effective pesticide and a great addition to your food cupboard!
Another widely used technique to protect your plants from unwanted insects is to make them too spicy to eat! Hot chili powder or fresh ground chilies of any variety can be combined with water and oil to create an effective spray that will repel insects from your plants and vegetation. Due to its strong flavor, chili powder should not be applied directly onto edible parts of vegetation, but instead on the stems or surrounding soil to put insects off venturing further. Garlic spray and chili spray can also be combined as a two-hit solution against garden pests.
As with all garden pesticides, it is important to use the solution with care and, where possible, avoid upsetting harmless wildlife, which is important to our food chain and environment. Organic pesticides are a much safer alternative to harmful chemicals, but can still harm or cause distress to animals.
It is possible to create homemade, organic pesticide solutions to help protect both yourself and your home from unwanted pests and infestations. Many of the above solutions are regarded to be just as effective as chemical alternatives, with the additional benefit of being cheap, easily sourced, simple to make and safe for human contact. Used carefully, they can also reduce unnecessary damage to the eco-system and precious wildlife such as bees.
If you are unable to resolve your issue using organic treatments, it is advisable to seek professional help and advice before using chemical solutions. You may need to take a further look at the source of the problem and address issues within the home or surrounding area that could be the root cause. Where necessary, chemicals should always be used with caution and care so as not to harm yourself, others, pets, or local wildlife.
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