Warmer weather is coming and with comes bugs and other pests. If you are savvy, this won’t be a problem for you. You already know about natural pest control. For all the others, here are just a few of the safe ways to deal with unwanted critters.
Praying mantises are voracious carnivores that eat other insects- both beneficial and pests. Each egg case contains about 200 mantises. It takes about eight week for them to hatch, so if you want them for your garden, it’s best to order before June 15. Live praying mantises may also be ordered, but it’s risky to do it this way because if they are without food for too long, they will eat each other. Females may lay several egg cases in the fall creating a new batch of insects for the following year.
Guinea fowl are amazing at pest control. They eat ticks, fleas, snakes, beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets. Guineas are great watch dogs. They squawk loudly at anything that appears unusual including dogs, people, and foxes. Additionally, you can eat them and their eggs. Looking for guinea fowl? Check our your local craigslist. There are usually some for sale in the farm section.
Lady bugs are the most common natural pest control for aphids and thrips. They are also popular because they don’t dine on beneficial insects. It’s best to attract these rather than buying them to make sure you get ones that work best for your area. If you have plants with lots of pollen, lady bugs will find you! Keep in mind that using pesticides will kill beneficial bugs as well as “bad” ones.
I live on the river and you might think that we’d be eaten alive with mosquitos, but there aren’t ever any here. Dragonflies are one reason why. They consume 10 percent to 15 percent of their own weight per day on insects such as mosquitoes, termites, deerflies, blackflies, horseflies and midges. All you need to attract dragonflies to your area is a little pond. It doesn’t have to be deep – just two feet will do. Situate it in the sun and make sure that there are some plants in the pond and watch the dragonflies find you.
Not all cats are mousers. You best bet at finding one that is is to rescue a feral or semi-feral cat. If you have rodents, or live near a field, a cat or three will keep the mice, moles, voles, and rats under control. You don’t want them chewing up your electrical wires, getting into your animal feed, or getting into your house. Keep in mind that barn cats are not pets. Once you domesticate them (if you can), they lose their wildness and may not hunt anymore. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to feed or house them. It just means that you don’t want to spend a lot of time cuddling them.
I know bats have a bad reputation for sucking people’s blood, but that’s mostly fiction. Bats don’t usually bother humans. They want mosquitos, and lots of them. They can eat 1,000 mosquitos in an hour. To attract bats, provide them with a water source, like a bird feeder. Bats hunt at night, so fragrant plants that attract nocturnal insects will also attract bats who come by to feast on them. Dahlia, French marigold, nicotiana, evening primrose, thyme, honeysuckle, and raspberries are great choices. You can also put up a bat house. Bats are finicky. We never got any bats to inhabit ours, but they found natural homes to roost in. It’s fun watching them fly out at night to begin their foraging.
Pest Repellant Plants
If you are looking for plants to repel pests from your garden, try planting garlic, basil, lavender, mint, thyme, lemon grass, marigolds, or rosemary among the other plants. (Be careful with mints. They spread quickly and can get out of control). Many insects don’t like these aromatic plants and will avoid them. Another tactic is to raise plants that attract bugs that eat other bugs. Many flowers can do this. They won’t rid you of all your problems, but they can greatly reduce them without using any chemical pesticides.
There are many different ways you can make or buy natural pesticides. Some are oil or soap based. These coat the insect making it hard for the bugs to breathe. Some are repellants that keep the bad bugs away with their smell. Be sure to investigate each one thoroughly before you try it. Some kill beneficial and harmful insects. We want to protect the bees! So things like diatomaceous earth won’t work when you want to target specific bugs.
As you can see, there are many practical natural pesticides that don’t involve toxic chemicals. If you try something new, let us know how it works out for you.