If one looks in the garage of the average gardener, it’s not unusual to find at least one container of conventional lawn and garden pesticide. This may be a relic from the days before the gardener switched to natural gardening methods, but it could also be a sign of reluctance to let go of a product that eradicated a nasty garden pest. Gardeners ready to replace all chemical pesticides with natural pest control methods can do so with confidence, as there is an effective organic product or method for every garden pest.
Bifenthrin is a common conventional pesticide marketed under several trade names to control armyworms, cutworms, grasshoppers, ticks, and other insects. Bifenthrin is also highly toxic to fish, and it’s a suspected endocrine disruptor.
Organic gardeners can spray neem or bacillus thuringiensis on their lawns to control armyworms and cutworms. Keep weedy areas clear to deny grasshoppers a habitat for breeding. Order parasitic nematodes that target ticks, such as S. feltiae.
Fruit and Vegetable Garden Pesticide
Acetamiprid is a chemical marketed to gardeners who wish to control more than 100 different kinds of insects, including such notorious pests as aphids, Japanese beetles, thrips, and whiteflies. Unfortunately, this product has the undesirable side effect of killing bees as well.
A blast of water from the hose can dislodge most aphid populations before they get out of control. Milky spore disease is an organic product that affects Japanese beetle grubs before they mature into voracious garden pests. Thrips and whiteflies are tiny pests that cause stunting in many plants, but insect soap controls their numbers.
Slug and Snail Pesticide
Slugs and snails are easy to control in the garden, so there’s no reason to use the harsh chemicals of metaldehyde and carbaryl sold in conventional slug baits. These types of slug baits are appealing but fatal to dogs, and extremely toxic to aquatic invertebrates, birds, and other wildlife.
Shallow pans of beer set in the garden will trap many victims attracted to the yeasty smell. Although it’s fun to believe that the slimy pests became intoxicated and drowned, the alcohol kills by desiccating the creatures.
Fire Ant Pesticide
Acephate is an effective fire ant killer, destroying the queen and the mound. However, humans who accidentally inhale this toxic dust may experience convulsions, dizziness, and nausea. More disturbing is that this substance is a potential carcinogen.
Boiling water is a standard way to kill fire ant colonies. The key to achieving complete control is to treat the mound daily until no more activity is observed. Intrepid gardeners have even resorted to physically removing fire ant mounds with a shovel. Apply baby powder to the handle of the shovel to deter crawling ants, and deposit the mound into a bucket filled with hot soapy water.