Natural Pest Control – Dangers & Safety Issues to Watch Out For

More and more people are seeking to live an eco-friendly lifestyle as environmental concerns grow. One simple but effective way of promoting environmental sustainability is to use natural pest control instead of chemical pesticide.

By now, you may have come across articles highlighting methods such as using apple cider vinegar and soap. We encourage you to try them, but at the same time, be wary of the side effects associated with using such methods. This article looks at things to watch out for when using these natural pest control methods.

Natural Pest Control Tips Infographic

Apple Cider Vinegar & White Vinegar

Pests: fruit flies, fungus gnats, wasps, lice, spiders, and more

Suggested Method: there are two pest control uses for vinegar. It can either be used as a trap or as a repellent. Your choice depends on the type of pest that needs to be eradicated. If you are getting rid of fruit flies then vinegar is a great way to trap those bugs in a jar because they love the smell of fermentation.

Other pests like fleas and caterpillars, however, do not like the scent of vinegar so the second use case that many suggest is to spray a vinegar solution onto the foliage of garden plants.

Dangers: vinegar is acidic. For this reason, vinegar is also a popular solution for getting rid of garden weeds. When used as pest control, you have to be careful not to use a high concentration of vinegar. Otherwise, you’ll harm both the pests and the plants in the garden.

There are two things to be careful of when using the vinegar spray solution. First, don’t go overboard with the amount of vinegar. An ideal balance of water and vinegar could be three parts water and one part vinegar. Next, when spraying outdoors, try and avoid spraying on the ground. Doing so could cause the soil acidity level to change over time.

Essential Oils – Lavender, Pennyroyal & More

Pests: ants, aphids, fleas, roaches, slugs, and more

Suggested Method: depends on the situation. One common suggestion is to spray essential oil solution on high-traffic pest areas. The solution would contain a mix of essential oil, water, and dish soap. For pet owners, a common suggestion is to either bathe the dog using natural shampoo (that contains essential oil) or to spray a mist (containing essential oil) around their body.

Dangers: some people may have skin that’s sensitive to essential oil so be careful with spraying when there are people around you. Consider wearing gloves and long sleeves for safety measures. Some types of essential oils can also be toxic to pets. Dog and cat owners should verify whether the essential oil is safe to use around their pets.

Pest Repelling Plants

Pests: fleas, weevils, mosquitoes, moths, squash bugs, and more

Suggested Method: while it may not solve immediate pest problems, growing pest-repelling plants is considered a great way to build a long-term pest barrier around the backyard. More gardeners are starting to incorporate them as part of companion planting efforts.

Dangers: mostly applies to pet owners. When ingested, some pest-repelling plants can be toxic to dogs, cats, and other household pets. A common example is chrysanthemum. This beautiful flowering plant is known to repel pests like cockroaches and squash bugs. Unfortunately, it also produces a chemical called pyrethin which can be toxic to pets.

Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Pests: bed bugs, slugs, fleas, snails, and more

Suggested Method: sprinkle a thin layer of food-grade diatomaceous earth on high-traffic pest areas, such as inside drawers, along windowsills, and inside wall crevices. Diatomaceous earth should not be applied in damp areas. The powder loses its effectiveness as a pest control as soon as it gets wet.

Dangers: first off, make sure you are using food-grade and not pool-grade diatomaceous earth. The pool-grade version contains a high concentration of crystalline silica, which is very harmful to your health. Next, make sure you wear a breathing mask when using diatomaceous earth. While the food-grade power is safe to consume, inhaling a large concentration of it can lead to respiratory discomfort and other health complications.

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