Green Pest Control: Tips for Protecting your Home and Garden this Summer

This guest post is by Jen McCauley of Eden Advanced Pest Technologies.

While insects and other pests are vital to our ecosystem, I’d rather not make personal contact with them. I find no pleasure in seeing a trail of ants along a kitchen counter carrying crumbs from this morning’s toast. And I’d rather spend time eating my burger than swatting at mosquitoes at a backyard barbeque.

If more people knew about simple natural pest control techniques, they’d spend less time chasing bugs with wads of rolled up paper and more time having a good time during the summer.

What is Green Pest Control?

Green pest control is all about working with nature for a long-term solution. Working with nature means learning about a pest’s habits and preferences in order to make your home an unattractive environment. Instead of dousing an area with insecticides or poisons – which make the environment toxic and offer limited effectiveness – you use the most helpful, low-risk solution available. The official term for this type of natural pest control is integrated pest management (IPM).

Green Pest Control

When you use integrated pest management to control a pest problem, you use logic instead of potentially harmful shortcuts. In a nutshell, these commonsense green pest control methods include:

  • Identification and education
  • Physical exclusion
  • Removing harborage sites
  • Monitoring
  • Prevention

The following is an example scenario of how you might use IPM:

Let’s say you notice ants taking over a plate that held last night’s dessert. Using your powers of deduction, you conclude the species is the kind that’s attracted to sweets. (If you aren’t sure, you could take a specimen to a green pest control company to have them identify it for free.)

After washing the plate and vacuuming up the ants that you see, you go online to learn more about the pests. These resources tell you ants often live in large underground networks, so getting rid of a nest (the harborage site) is nearly impossible. You also learn that if ants detect poison, the colony takes a break from your place and come back later. Therefore, you conclude that the best way to control the ants in a green manner is physical exclusion and prevention.

You eliminate the ways the ants can get into your home, such as by sealing cracks under the windowsills and elsewhere on the exterior of your home, and you reduce the likelihood of their return by washing your dishes in a timely manner and never leaving out food. You might also plant spearmint around the perimeter of your home, since it deters ants.

This is how natural pest control companies practice IPM, although typically on a broader home. It’s important to note that the experts only use chemicals as a last resort, and the chemicals chosen are the least toxic available.

Eden Pest Inspection

Natural Pest Prevention for Summer

Pests can invade a home during any time of the year, but insects are typically most abundant during the summer. Use the following tips to minimize your pest encounters.

Perform yard maintenance

Pests look to yards as a place to nest, hide and eat – and from there it’s an easy transition to simply move into your home. An unkempt landscape is like an open invitation to pests.

  • Regularly clear debris such as fallen leaves and branches, dead plants and weeds.
  • Once your vegetable garden gets going, harvest the goods in a timely manner and don’t leave produce to rot on the ground.
  • To prevent pests from using trees as bridges onto your home, cut back overhanging tree branches.
  • Keep your lawn trimmed.
  • Incorporate plants that act as insect repellents, such as spearmint, wormwood, lavender, citronella, catnip, penny royal, rosemary and eucalyptus.

Eliminate standing water

In addition to hydrating pests, standing water is the preferred nesting site for insects like mosquitoes and gnats.

  • Empty water that pools in items like buckets, clogged gutters, tarps or empty planters.
  • Refresh the water in birdbaths every other day.
  • Cover your pool.
  • Empty the water from outdoor water features if the pump doesn’t work.
  • Immediately fix leaks inside and outside your home.

Tidy up food storage

When you don’t put away leftovers or store food in strong containers, your home becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet for pests.

  • Never leave food out in the open unless you’re eating a meal or hosting a party.
  • Immediately clean crumbs and spills.
  • Keep your pantry and kitchen shelves clean.
  • Store all food, including pet food, in glass or hard plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • When throwing away food, dispose of it in lidded trash cans.

Attend to home maintenance

While you don’t need your home to pass a white glove test, keeping it clean makes it inhospitable to pests.

  • Regularly vacuum.
  • Regularly dust, and don’t neglect the nooks and crannies. Some insects, like cockroaches, can live off dust and dirt.
  • Regularly take out the trash, and always use the lid on your outdoor garbage cans.
  • Store seasonal clothing in hard plastic containers with lids instead of cardboard boxes. The same goes for seasonal decorations.
  • Avoid leaving stacks of paper around your home, garage and attic.
  • Regularly inspect your home, inside and out, for cracks, and seal any you find. Pests can get into your home through openings that are as small as a 1/8 inch.
  • Replace damaged building materials. Many pests feed off damaged wood and mold.

When it comes to natural pest control, prevention is simpler and more cost-effective than trying to get rid of an infestation. If you ever encounter pests that are particularly problematic or dangerous, use the help of a pest control company that shares your green standards.

Jen's HeadshotJen McCauley is the marketing director of Eden Advanced Pest Technologies, the leading integrated pest management company in Western Washington and Oregon and serves both residential and commercial customers.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the article and pest prevention suggestions, Jen! Any advice or thoughts for the 17-year “cicada infestation” that’s apparently getting underway right now for us all on the East Coast? I keep having visions of a plague of locusts, but it can’t really be *that* bad, right??
    Mark recently posted..Hardwood Floor Installation and Trim Work

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