Does organic pest control work? We all desire a healthy environment devoid of pests and insects. But, it is quite unfortunate, we still experience these pests that disrupt our environment, jumble up the place, and spread diseases.
This article focuses on the best organic ways to control these pests, their methods, and how they can help keep our environment clean.
It is no longer news about the side effects of chemicals on humans, plants, and the ecosystem at large, hence, there is an urgent need for effective organic ways to control pests.
So does organic pest control work? Here we will discuss some of the efficient ways to prevent and control pests and effective organic pest control methods.
What is Organic Pest Control Methods?
Organic pest control methods can be simply put as the control of pests without the use of chemicals. The organic pest control method is a method of curbing pests devoid of chemical application but rather with the use of plants, predators, organic pesticides, and other mechanical techniques.
Regardless of the potency of chemical pesticides, they are detrimental to health; they eliminate pests, they also destroy numerous important insects that are beneficial to the crops, and it goes ahead to contaminate the soil and water supplies, making people sick.
Over time, the efficiency of chemical pesticides lessens as pests become invulnerable to them. This simply means that these pesticides destroy the fragile pests, letting the toughest pests breed a new generation that tends to become immune to them.
What is a Pest?
Any insect or animal that causes damage to plants and crops can be said to be a pest. Pests can be beneficial and also hazardous to plants.
- They come in diverse forms and sizes. We will take a look at some common pests and their effects:
- The borers such as termites and stem borers, weaken the plant.
- Aphids gore the leaf or stems of plants, sucking their sap and weakening them and they also spread diseases.
- Beetles, weevils, and caterpillars are known to eat the leaves of plants, although butterflies are known to aid pollination.
- Grasshoppers and locusts are common enemies of seedlings, they bite the top of seedlings.
We also have larger animal pests like birds, rats, monkeys, etc.
Not all pests are the same, hence the need to take some precautionary measures before deciding which organic pest control method to use, it is important to know what you are up against to avoid wasting time and energy.
How to Effectively Implement Organic Pest Control Methods
Identifying the pest: for effective pest control, there is a need to know the exact pest(s) causing damage. For instance, when there are occurrences of holes in the leaves, going to the plant at intervals can help you see the pest in action.
Getting information about common local pests can also be useful.
- Learn about the pest: the knowledge of the pest life cycle, food, and natural enemies is very vital because it is easier to control some pests at a certain stage of their life like getting rid of eggs of this pest before they hatch. Removing a pest source or introducing their natural enemies can help in curbing them.
- Observation: the observation of pest behavior is also quite helpful; does it appear on a seasonal basis? Does it appear all over the plants or only in particular areas? Does it tend to increase or decrease in population?
- Decision: Determining the perfect time to take action while keeping in mind that these insects and animals are all a part of the natural environment.
- Evaluation: assessing the effect of the organic pest control method employed; was it effective and liable to be used again or is there a need to try out other methods? Were other insects affected by this method? Was the effect a good or a bad one?
Does Organic Pest Control Work?
Does organic pest control work? Yes, organic pest control work effectively such as using pesticides and insecticides.
Here are organic pest control that works;
1. Use of Plant
Plants have a unique way of protecting themselves from their enemies just like animals do. For a better understanding of how plants help in pest control, we need to first comprehend how plants protect themselves from insects.
It is common knowledge that animals protect themselves from danger. Animals like deer run to be safe, snakes are known for their venom which can be poisonous to predators, and skunks emit a bad smell to scare off predators.
What Plants Aids Effective Organic Pest control?
Some plants can produce naturally poisonous chemicals that kill insects just as snakes and spiders. For instance, we have tobacco that contains nicotine, chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum cineraria folium) pyrethrum, and derris (Derris spp.) rotenone, all these chemicals are harmful to many pests and other organisms.
The same as the mammy tree (Mammea americana) of Central and South America, it also has chemicals that may be harmful to many pests.
We have other plants that protect themselves just like the skunk defends itself. They generate chemicals that repulse pests.
We have garlic (Allium sativum), wormwood (Artemisia spp.), tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), and marigold (Tagetes spp.), they all generate chemicals that repulse insects. In rare cases, they repel disease-causing organisms.
2. Biological Control
Biological control involves the introduction of living organisms to quell pest populations, thereby rendering them ineffective and less damaging than they would otherwise be.
Biological control can be an effective method of pest control for all types of pests like vertebrates, plant pathogens, weeds, and also insects, although the methods and agents used differ according to the type of pest.
Understanding the Function of Natural Enemies of Pests and Insects
The role of these natural enemies cannot be overemphasized in limiting the densities of these conceivable pests.
These natural enemies can be classified into three and they include; predators, parasitoids, and pathogens.
Most predators feed on insects. Insects make an important part of many vertebrates’ diets, vertebrates as birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and mammals. Insectivorous vertebrates are known to feed on numerous insect species and hardly concentrate on pests unless they are in abundance.
The use of Insect and other arthropod predators is more often encouraged in biological control because they prey on an insignificant size of prey species and also because of the shorter life span of arthropod predators, may fluctuate the population density in reaction to changes in the population of their prey.
Some of the significant insect predators include ladybeetles, ground beetles, rove beetles, flower bugs, other predatory true bugs, lacewings, and hoverflies. Some families of mites and spiders are also predators of insects.
Insects with an immature phase that grows on or in a single insect host and eventually destroys the host can be said to be a parasitoid.
The adults of these parasitoids are generally free-living and may be predators. They tend to feed on other resources, like honeydew, plant nectar, or pollen.
Parasitoids are highly specialized and limited in their host range because they must be adapted to the life cycle, physiology, and defenses of their hosts.
Hence, the factual identification of the host and parasitoid species is crucial in the adoption of parasitoids for biological control.
Just like animals, insects are also infected by bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and viruses that inflict disease. These diseases tend to curtail the rate of feeding and growth of insect pests, leading to slow or impeded reproduction, or extensively killing them.
Insects are also destroyed by some species of nematodes that, with their bacterial symbionts, can lead to disease or death.
3. Natural Pesticides
A widespread misleading notion when it concerns organic farming is that no pesticides are used, but that is simply erroneous.
When it comes to agriculture, the use of pesticides is a big deal; it is a vital part of the growing process and also helps in protecting and maintaining crops throughout the year.
The main difference between organic pesticides and traditional chemical pesticides is that organic pesticides use naturally produced chemicals, unlike synthetic man-made chemicals.
Natural pesticides consist of chemical, mineral, and biological materials and some of these products are commercially handy, some of them include pyrethrum, neem, spinosad, rotenone, abamectin, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), garlic, cinnamon, pepper, and essential oil products.
Natural pesticides can be made from natural ingredients. Just like caterpillars and aphids can be curtailed with the use of papaya leaf spray.
4. Mechanical Controls
Mechanical pest controls are very easy organic ways to control pests. It involves:
- Hand-picking visible insects off the plant. This can be effective in smaller plots before the pest breeds, but not so effective in larger fields.
- Constructing boundaries to safeguard plants, like using nests to stop birds from pecking and also coating fruits to prevent fruit flies.
- The use of traps like rodent traps, use of sticky traps for insects, or the use of snail and slug traps; can be made from a yeast and water mixture.
As already stated, artificial ways of controlling pests are quite effective but with side effects. Hence, the need to look for organic and less toxic ways to curb pest infestation is sought after.
We have closely looked at these organic ways to control pests in this article. And I hope this information is valuable.
We can not talk about organic pest control methods without first understanding what these pests are. So the need to know what a pest is; pests we said are destructive and unwanted organisms.
There are different types of pests which include: stem borers, aphids, butterflies, and also larger animals like rats, birds, and monkeys.
The most important part of our discourse is organic pest control methods; these methods we described as natural ways of keeping pests away from our establishment devoid of artificial chemicals.
We have the use of plants, biological methods, use of natural pesticides, and finally mechanical methods as organic ways of controlling pests.