(June 2005)

There are many ways to conrol pests, today we keep coming up with more and more chemical pest insecticides and the little buggers just keep getting more and more immune to them, while we contaminate our food, and water supplies and our air with their toxic residue and by- products, and actually poisnoning ourselves in the process. There are many natural ways to deal with them. Whether in the home or out in the yard. This is a two part newsletter, this month outdoors, next month INside the home.

 First you can use other insects (and animals where allowed) to munch on these. The first favorite of home gardeners is the Lady Bug. Famous for their control of aphids, Lady Bugs will also consume large numbers of whitefly, mealybugs, scales, mites and many other soft bodied insects as well as bollworm, broccoli worm, cabbage moth and tomato hornworm. Lady Bugs will consume up to 1,000 aphids in it's lifetime in both their larvae and adult stages and work well in garden and greenhouse settings. You can buy them by the bagful from many garden catalogs. One helpful site I found this information is www.marchbiological.com/L/ladybug.html  They have some interesting advice on keeping them from flying away when you release them, to even if you find some in your home in the winter you can put them in the fridge and they will hybernate. (cool huh).  Adult Lacewings are a beautiful green with long translucent wings and large golden eyes. they are not as widely known as the Lady Bug but controls the same type of pests and is not as prone to fly off. Lacewing work well in conjunction with Lady Bugs, Spider Mite Predators and Trichogamma. Release 1 Lacewing per sqft of garden or greenhouse area then repeat every 10 to 14 days until control has been achieved. Early starts get better results faster.

Beneficial Nematodes offer the greatest value when it comes to biological control due to the wide variety of pests they control  Root weevil, European crane fly, grubs, ants, fleas, cut worm, over 250 soil dwelling pests that are so difficult to control using other methods are just a tasty mid afternoon snack for them. Any pest that spends any part of it's life cycle in the soil falls prey, most before they enter their adult stage. Beneficial Nematodes are microscopic and live below the soil surface and like a moist environment. Looking like short non-segmented worms these voracious predators make their way through your lawn and garden looking for food. Nematodes do not harm worms, birds, plants or the environment, in fact they are part of the environment and are found the world over. Trichogramma Targets  Moths, borers, webworm fruitworms. The eggs of over 200 varieties of destructive larvae of moths and butterflies,  release at first sight of moths and every 14 days until infestation subsides. 4000 eggs per square. Use 1 square per 500 sqft. Beneficial Fly Parasites - Fly Parasites are natures original method of fly control. These tiny beneficial insects kill the larva before it can develop into a fly. Fly Parasites have been proven highly effective in a wide range of applications such as dairies, horse stables, poultry farms, feed lots, and waste water treatment facilities, anywhere flies breed and cause irratation to animals and humans. Fly Parasites are gnat size, nocturnal, and do not sting or bite. They spend their entire life cycle on or near manure or decomposing organic material and will not migrate into patios, kitchens or houses. Fly Parasites are just about unnoticeable.

 Bats will consume 600 mosquitoes per hour per bat.   Despite their reputation bats are quite harmless to people. They are less prone to be rabid than dogs or cats and will not attack humans, Bat houses have narrow openings at the bottom for bats to enter and rough inside surfaces inside for them to hold onto with their feet. Bat Houses should be hung 10 to 15 feet above the ground and sheltered from the wind. The interior needs to be warm, between 80 to 100 degrees, place the house so it catches the morning sun. If your location is not sunny enough cover the house with black tar paper to absorb heat. Leave the house natural as paint and stains are toxic to bats. Bat Houses located near water are most likely to attract bats, as that habitat provides the insects needed for their diet. You may have to wait a year before bats move in. If bats are in your area and the house is properly located the bats will come. Inside the Bat House are several partitions because bats like narrow spaces and this allows more surface room for roosting. The open bottom will eliminate the need for cleaning and to prevent birds from nesting in the house. I have found bat houses for sale at Menards and many home gardener catalogs.

  Mosquitos  are most active in early morning and early evening, and seek areas of still air. Remove standing water sources, change birdbaths and pet water dishes regularly. Oil of eucalyotus helps prevent bites longer,  citronella works for only about 20 min if at all. Using sage or rosemary on the coals when you grill can help repel mosquitos. You can also make an effective repellent from garlic juice. mix one part with 5 parts water in spray bottle. spay lighty on exposed body parts for repellent, lasts up to 5-6 hrs. strips of cotton cloth can also be dipped in mixture and hung in areas such as patios as a deterrent. Neem oil is a natural vegetable oil from india, many products on the market with this ingredient. Plants such as marigolds give off a fragrance bugs and flying insects dont like. you can also apply oil of oregano to your skin. 

Thai lemon grass To use as a repellent, break off a stalk from clump, peel off outer leaves, bend the stem between fingers, loosening it, then rub vigorously between your palms, it will become a pulpy juicy mass. rub on exposed skin. you can also make a tincture using alcohol for spray applications. plantings around deck will also help reple mosquitoes. Another option is to wash with soap containing citronella and lemon grass oils.

  • Supplement with one vitamin B-1 tablet a day from April through October. Add 100 mg of B-1 to a B-100 Complex daily during the mosquito season.

  • Don't eat bananas during mosquito season--mosquitoes love bananas! There is something about how your body processes the banana oil that attracts these female sugar-loving insects.

  • One of the best natural insect repellents is Vick's Vaporub®.

  •  Campers agree that the very best mosquito repellant is Avon Skin-So-Soft® bath oil mixed half and half with rubbing alcohol.

  • One of the best natural insect repellants we use in Texas is made from the clear liquid vanilla that is sold in Mexico. It is reported to work great for mosquitoes and ticks, and spreading a little vanilla mixed with olive oil on your skin smells great.

  •  Citronella soap is a product that started in the Bahamas and Belize. The soaps are made with olive oil for moisture and great lather, Aloe Vera to soothe the skin, and citronella oil to repel mosquitoes. For high intensity protection you can burn citronella incense. Mosquitoes avoid citronella and they hate the smoke.

  • Citronella essential oil (Java Citronella) is considered to be the highest quality citronella on the market. The best quality is steam distilled from the grass giving it a fresh, sweet woody aroma. It blends well with geranium, cedar wood and other citrus oils. It is 100 percent pure essential oil--no additives, no dilutants, no adulteration, just safe mosquito repellent  

  •  Most commercial insect repellants contain a chemical known as DEET and should be used with caution, if at all. Many studies have found DEET to have harmful effects. One study found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats, and researchers suggest that humans may experience memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath with heavy exposure to DEET and other insecticides. Children are particularly at risk for subtle brain changes because their skin more readily absorbs chemicals in the environment and chemicals more potently affect their developing nervous systems.

     The Ultimate Slug Trap-  is a trap anyone can make from a sour cream tub that works as well or better than any slug trap you can buy. Clean out a used sour cream or butter tub. About an inch down from the top cut 3 openings 3/4" x 2". Bury the tub in a slug infested area up to the openings, fill the tub with beer (or a mixture of sugar water and yeast) and put the lid on to keep pets out. The beer attracts the slugs, they crawl in and drown. When it gets full either rinse or throw away. Cheep, easy and works great.

    Flies- use mint as a fly repellent. small sachets of crushed mint can be placed around the home to discourage flies. Bay leaves, cloves and eucalyptus wrapped in small cheesecloth squares can be hung by open windows or doors. Place a small open  container of sweet basil and clover near pet food or any open food. a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a scrap of absorbant cloth will deter flies. leave in areas where they are a problem.  You can make your own fly paper by mixing 1/4 cup syrup, 1 tbs white sugar in a small bowl. cut strips of brown kraft paper and soak in this mixture. let dry overnite. to hang, poke a small hole at the top of ea strip and hang with string.

    Wasps should be thought of as beneficial insects, they prey mainly on other insects, many of which are pests. in general they avoid human activity and should only be considered a nuisance when nesting near homes or high traffic areas. In the spring and early summer, they are attracted to protein foods, such as pet food, open garbage or uncovered compost. wasps imprint food sources, and will continue to search an area for some time after the food has been removed. In late summer and early fall they change their food preference to sweets. and they become more aggressive. open soda cans, fruit juice, fallen fruit, will attract them. Avoid swatting and squashing wasps, when they are squashed, a chemical Pheromone is released which attracts and incites nearby wasps. Also avoid wearing bright colors or floral patterns. and minimize use of perfumes. Wasps have been known to fly from 300 to 1000 yards (meters) from their nest in search of food. Traps are more likely to be useful in small areas. Setting out traps in the early spring, when only a few wasps may be evident, can be most effective. This is because these early season wasps are usually queens, and it's estimated that each trapped queen represents several thousand worker wasps in the late summer. You can buy wasp traps or make your own. To make your own trap use a razor knife to cut the top from a 2-liter plastic soda bottle. cut just above the shoulder of the bottle, fill with water about half way, coat the neck with jam and invert it and set back on the bottle. (jam only works in the fall) use tape if needed to hold the pieces together, or stape it.. wasps will go down the funnel to get the jam. a few drops of dish soap in the water will make it hard for the wasps to tread water. you can add 1/4 cup vinegar to the water to discourage honey bees. If stung, the wound should be washed with water which helps remove some of the venom, and treated with an anti-sting product or antihistamine cream which can reduce the pain and spread of the venom. Another treatment is to apply a poultice of meat tenderizer (for people not allergic to bee stings) or salt to the sting site as soon as possible after the incident. Use about 1/2 teaspoon mixed with enough water to produce a paste. Leave on the sting site for about 30 minutes. Soak a tissue or cotton swab with distilled white vinegar, and apply to site of bite. This will relieve the stinging in a few seconds. Continue apply this to bite site until victim finds the bite no longer is stinging. Moths- Cedar chips in a cheesecloth square, or cedar oil in an absorbant cloth will repel moths. The cedar should be 'aromatic cedar', also referred to as juniper in some areas. Homemade moth-repelling sachets can also be made with lavender, rosemary, vetiver and rose petals. Dried lemon peels are also a natural moth deterrent - simply toss into clothes chest, or tie in cheesecloth and hang in the closet.

  • Gnats, Gnats sometimes swarm on plants, usually indoor varieties. Try this natural solution, but if the problem persists change the soil in the container.  To 1 quart of boiling water add:  ½ Tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap Now fill a spray bottle with the mixture. While the mixture is still hot, spray it on the plant, soil and gnats!

    Diatomaceous earth is a mechanical insect killer. Insects cannot become immune to its action. When insects come into contact with diatomaceous earth, the sharp edges lacerate the bugs' waxy exoskeleton and then the powdery DE absorbs their body fluids causing death from dehydration. DE kills insects by drying them up. Diatomaceous earth is a remarkable, all-natural product made from tiny fossilized water plants. Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring siliceous sedimentary mineral compound from microscopic skeletal remains of unicellular algae-like plants called diatoms. These plants have been part of the earth's ecology since prehistoric times. Kills ants, ticks, fleas, aphids, silverfish, cockroaches, bed bugs, carpet beetles, slugs, snails, tomato hornworm, house flies, fruit flies, red spider mites, and earwigs. Use outdoors in the garden, on the grass, and around the foundation of home. Inside on pantry shelves, under sinks, closets, on rugs, and in corners and crevices. To use for flea and tick control, apply a light dusting over the lawn, in dog runs, around pet bedding or favorite resting spots and sprinkle a little on your pet between baths of a mild herbal soap. Avoid dips and soaps containing chemical insecticides. Diatomaceous earth has also been used for years to protect grains in storage from insect damage. Diatomaceous earth can be added to animal food - pets or livestock. When used at 1% to 2% of the food volume, it controls internal parasites, increases digestion and provides valuable trace minerals. DE is approximately 3% magnesium, 86% silicon, 5% sodium, 2% iron and many other trace minerals such as titanium, boron, manganese, copper and zirconium.  alot of this information was used from  http://eartheasy.com/homepage.htm 

    you can use fowl like chickens, quail and some other birds for insect control (where allowed).

    You can make natural sprays that you can spray on plants like hot pepper.

    Organic Remedy for Aphids, Spidermites and Mealy Bugs:  Mix together 1 Tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and 1 cup of vegetable oil.  Then dilute 1 Tablespoon of the above two ingredients into 1 cup of water.
    Now you're ready to spray this natural solution onto the infected plants. Spray both the front and the back of each infected leaf and the stems of the plant too.  Note: Before spraying each plant perform a small test first. Because soap can sometimes burn particular varieties, spray this solution on just one leaf first. It generally takes about 24 to 48 hours for a burn to show up. If burning is not a problem go ahead and spray all infected areas of the plant.  How and why does this solution work?
    The soap breaks down the insect's protective exterior coating. This dehydrates the insects and makes them more susceptible to disease. This is gross, sorry!  Hot pepper sprays are also effective,   They can also be used in combination with garlic oil sprays and soap. To Make: In a blender with water, liquify 2 large cayenne or habanero peppers. Strain to remove the solids and add water to bring the volume up to one gallon of concentrate. Shake well before using, and spray at the dilution rate of 1/4 cup of concentrate per gallon of water. Add 1/4 tbs. of pure castille soap to make the mixture stick to the plants better.  You can also make a dust,  garlic spray and herbal sprays. here is a site that has some recipes http://www.ipmofalaska.com/files/homemadepestcontrol.html  another interesting site with more helpful info is http://www.cdcg.org/pests.html 

  •   Fungus: The heat of summer often means fungus on our favorite plants, especially roses. To help keep these beauties to stay free of blackspot and powdery mildew make a mostly organic solution of the following:  1 generous teaspoon of baking soda,  1 Tablespoon of summer dormant oil (summer dormant oil can be applied after the plant has leafed out),  ½ teaspoon of insecticidal soap or dishing washing liquid , 1 gallon of water Combine the above ingredients and then spray the mixture on the plants every two weeks!  Make sure your plants are well watered prior to spraying any of these organic solutions. The plants need to be completely hydrated so as not to be affected negatively by these homemade remedies.