We have seen a lot of unique weather this summer! This has presented us with more pest issues than normal. Not only do we have to deal with pests in our planters, gardens and vegetable beds, but now, with increased rain, we are seeing more of them finding refuge in our kitchens, pantries and all over the patio. The question we are concerned with is how we can handle these buggers sustainably and how do we do this without impacting our beneficial and more friendly insects.
Why should we be more cognizant of how we deal with these pests:
We have bugs that help our gardens perform (like bees and butterflies), ones that combat the insect issue in our garden (like lacewings and ladybugs), and ones that just make summer feel like summer (like our precious lightning bugs). So how do we take care of the pesky pests while not driving away our friends? Well the easy solution is not going to be the best for our ecosystem. Things like fogging or just doing a blanket spray insecticides will kill those pesky mosquitoes and ants, but they will also kill every other insect that comes in contact with them. That means the ladybugs dormant in the bushes, fireflies hanging in the lawn will come or the butterfly that is making its round pollinating could come in contact with these insecticides.
So how do we take care of the pesky pests while not driving away our friends?
First step is to try to deter them:
The first idea for sustainable pest control is to deter them before we have to use insecticide. That could mean planting plants in your garden that release pheromones that block the scent of what that insect is attracted to -- whether that is your tasty tomatoes or the kids running around the yard at the family barbeque. Just to name a few plants that naturally deter bugs: mint, basil, lavender, marigolds, naturium, and citronella. The extra benefit is for humans these plants offer a nice summer scent.
Always plan ahead:
If you are planning to have a nice time outside, find a spray that carries a lot of the essential oils of the plants listed above and thoroughly spray the area you are planning on hanging around. Mosquito Beater Insect Repellent is a nice product to use for this. Think of this as building an invisible cloak against the insects. Although you may have to do this before everytime you plan on enjoying the patio, the benefits of doing this is helping ensure that your backyard lightning bug show will continue. Another tip, if you have a raised deck, try keeping a fan blowing underneath using the fan will help blow away the bugs trying to fly up through the deck.
The Last Straw? Make sure you know your pest:
When insecticides are a must, always think about what you are killing and how we can get rid of that pest without interfering with other insects we do not intend to harm. For mosquitoes we recommend repelling them and applying BT in any still water you have around the house. BT is a beneficial bacteria that will kill the larva before they become the winged terrors that we spend our summers swatting. When using insecticides on your veggies and flowers, spray in the evening when the pollinators are done for the day. When you start spraying, cover up the flowers and try to only hit the areas that the pesky insects will focus on like the stems and leaves. This helps ensure that the pollinators will not come into contact with the insecticide as they are making their rounds. Lastly, spray only when needed.
How to deal with the pests in the house
When you start to see insects in the house, use bait traps like Terro, a borax product, that the ants carry back to the colony. Things like Spinosad, insecticide soap, pyrethrin, cedarwood oil and so on. Just be sure to look if it is listed for the home. Lastly, put a barrier of spinosad (a natural chemical found leftover in the production of rum) or Diatomaceous Earth (a fine rock dust) around your house. Though they work differently, they will kill the crawling insects as they try to come into your house and are both safe for us and our pets.
Now we know there may not be a perfect solution, but the perfect and easy solutions always tend to have repercussions in the long run. So having patience and a plan can really go a long way when helping our beneficial insects do their job in our backyard and in our ecosystem while also keeping our time outside pest free. So when thinking about all the insects around the yard and house it really helps to:
Have a plan to deter
Think ahead on ways to prevent them from spreading
When you decide they become just too much identify what the pest is and try to be precise in your means to eradicate them
Do you all have any natural ways to deter or deal with pests? Let us know what are some of your best practices!