“Green” Pest Control
My recent conversation with an acquaintance turned to the environment and pest control. My acquaintance is a do-it-yourselfer and asked me what the best approach is to keep his home pest free while still respecting the environment. Others may benefit from my conversation.
While my acquaintance was using products derived from natural sources, there are other things to consider when trying to be “green” and keep pests from your home.
Four things to consider as you develop an environmentally sound pest control program for your home are:
- What environmental factors can be controlled?
- What products will have the smallest environmental impact?
- What does the label recommend?
- What areas around your home should be avoided?
Environmental factors I often run into are tree branches, drains, and casual water. Tree branches that touch the walls or roof of your home create a bridge for ants to get on your home. Drains inside your home that go dry provide a way for palmetto bugs and flies to enter your home. Water that collects in bird baths, trash cans, and children’s toys can provide habitat for breeding mosquitos. Simply trimming tree branches, filling drains, and emptying water sources can eliminate pest problems around your home without resorting to pesticides.
There are many products available to help control pests around your home. Many are “natural” while others are synthetic. My advice to any homeowner is to use products having the smallest impact on the environment and still solve the pest problem. This might mean using baits rather than sprays to control ants or roaches. If sprays are needed, sometimes lower dose synthetics, used once, are more environmentally responsible than using botanicals that require repeated applications. Keep in mind that products derived from “natural” sources still have the potential to do great harm to the environment.
Following the label of products is an important way to keep from adversely impacting the environment. The label will not only tell you how to mix the product you are using but also, how to protect yourself and your property as you apply it. It is also important to follow the label when you dispose of the empty container. These things all impact the environment.
The last thing to carefully consider when adopting a “green” approach to pest control around your home is determining what areas not to treat. Always consider where the wind and water will take the products you use. Granular products applied to your yard may be carried by the wind as they are applied. Rain may also transport them downhill to ponds and streams. The wind may also cause sprays to be carried away from the treatment area. This is especially important when spraying near food plants or ornamental plants that are attractive to bees and other pollinators.
As I told my acquaintance, an environmentally responsible approach to pest control is much more than using a “green” product. Please consider the things I have mentioned as you work to develop your own pest control program. We all owe it to ourselves and each other to treat the environment with care. It is not difficult if we know how.