Is There a Boom Or Bust Coming For Natural Pest Control?

The world is going green. “Green” is the color of environmental concern, the impetus that drives cutting-edge technology, the buzz word of the socially conscious. Concern for the environment and man’s impact on it is bringing a slew of new products to market, and pest control is no exception. Environmentally-friendly pest control services are growing in popularity, particularly in the commercial sector. Even eco-savvy residential consumers are asking about natural alternatives to traditional pesticides, but their ardor often cools when confronted with the 10% to 20% cost differential and lengthier treatment times, sometimes several weeks.

The raising of America’s environmental consciousness, coupled with increasingly stringent federal regulations governing traditional chemical pesticides, appears to be shifting the pest control industry’s focus to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques. IPM is considered not only safer for the environment, but safer for people, pets and secondary scavengers such as owls. Of 378 pest management companies surveyed in 2008 by Pest Control Technology magazine, two-thirds said they offered IPM services of some sort.

Instead of lacing pest sites with a poisonous cocktail of powerful insecticides designed to kill, IPM focuses on environmentally-friendly prevention techniques designed to keep pests out. While low- or no-toxicity products may also be used to encourage pests to pack their bags, elimination and control efforts focus on finding and eliminating the causes of infestation: entry points, attractants, harborage and food.

Particularly popular with schools and nursing homes charged with guarding the health of the nation’s youngest and oldest citizens, those at greatest risk from hazardous chemicals, IPM is catching the attention of hotels, office buildings, apartment complexes and other commercial enterprises, as well as eco-conscious residential customers. Driven in equal parts by environmental concerns and health hazard fears, interest in IPM is bringing a host of new environmentally-friendly pest management products — both high- and low-tech — to market.

“Probably the best product out there is a door sweep,” confided Tom Green, president of the Integrated Pest Management Institute of North America, a non-profit organization that certifies green exterminating companies. In an Associated Press interview posted on MSNBC online last April, Green explained, “A mouse can squeeze through a hole the size of a pencil diameter. So if you’ve got a quarter-inch gap underneath your door, as far as a mouse is concerned, there’s no door there at all.” Cockroaches can slither through a one-eighth inch crevice.

IPM is “a better approach to pest control for the health of the home, the environment and the family,” said Cindy Mannes, spokeswoman for the National Pest Management Association, the $6.3 billion pest control industry’s trade association, in the same Associated Press story. However, because IPM is a relatively new addition to the pest control arsenal, Mannes cautioned that there is little industry consensus on the definition of green services.

In an effort to create industry standards for IPM services and providers, the Integrated Pest Management Institute of North America developed the Green Shield Certified (GSC) program. Identifying pest control products and companies that eschew traditional pesticides in favor of environmentally-friendly control methods, GSC is endorsed by the EPA, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and HUD. IPM favors mechanical, physical and cultural methods to control pests, but may use bio-pesticides derived from naturally-occurring materials such as animals, plants, bacteria and certain minerals.

Toxic chemical sprays are giving way to new, sometimes unconventional, methods of treating pests. Some are ultra high-tech like the quick-freeze Cryonite process for eliminating bed bugs. Others, like trained dogs that sniff out bed bugs, seem decidedly low-tech, but employ state-of-the-art methods to achieve results. For example, farmers have used dogs’ sensitive noses to sniff out problem pests for centuries; but training dogs to sniff out explosives and drugs is a relatively recent development. Using those same techniques to teach dogs to sniff out termites and bed bugs is considered cutting-edge.

Another new pest control technique is birth control. When San Francisco was threatened by mosquitoes carrying potentially life-threatening West Nile Virus, bicycle messengers were hired to cruise the city and drop packets of biological insecticide into the city’s 20,000 storm drains. A kind of birth control for mosquitoes, the new method was considered safer than aerial spraying with the chemical pyrethrum, the typical mosquito abatement procedure, according to a recent story posted on the National Public Radio website.

Naturally, there are efforts underway to build a better mousetrap. The innovative Track & Trap system attracts mice or rats to a food station dusted with fluorescent powder. Rodents leave a blacklight-visible trail that allows pest control experts to seal entry paths. Coming soon, NightWatch uses pheromone research to lure and trap bed bugs. In England, a sonic device designed to repel rats and squirrels is being tested, and the aptly named Rat Zapper is purported to deliver a lethal shock using just two AA batteries.

Alongside this influx of new environmentally-friendly products rides a posse of federal regulations. Critics of recent EPA regulations restricting the sale of certain pest-killing chemicals accuse the government of unfairly limiting a homeowner’s ability to protect his property. The EPA’s 2004 banning of the chemical diazinon for household use a couple of years ago removed a potent ant-killer from the homeowner’s pest control arsenal. Similarly, 2008 EPA regulations prohibiting the sale of small quantities of effective rodenticides, unless sold inside an enclosed trap, has stripped rodent-killing chemicals from the shelves of hardware and home improvement stores, limiting the homeowner’s ability to protect his property and family from these disease-carrying pests.

Acting for the public good, the government’s pesticide-control actions are particularly aimed at protecting children. According to a May 20, 2008 report on CNN online, a study conducted by the American Association of Poison Control Centers indicated that rat poison was responsible for nearly 60,000 poisonings between 2001 and 2003, 250 of them resulting in serious injuries or death. National Wildlife Service testing in California found rodenticide residue in every animal tested.

Consumers are embracing the idea of natural pest control and environmentally-friendly, cutting-edge pest management products and techniques. Availability and government regulations are increasingly limiting consumers’ self-treatment options, forcing them to turn to professional pest control companies for relief from pest invasions. While this has proved a viable option for commercial customers, few residential customers seem willing to pay higher prices for newer, more labor-intensive green pest control products and even fewer are willing to wait the additional week or two it may take these products to work. It is taking leadership efforts on the part of pest control companies to educate consumers in the long term benefits of green and natural pest treatments.

Even though the cold, hard truth is that when people have a pest problem, they want it gone and they want it gone now! If rats or mice are in their house destroying their property and threatening their family with disease, if termites or carpenter ants are eating away their home equity, if roaches are invading their kitchen or if they’re sharing their bed with bed bugs, consumer interest in environmental friendliness plummets. When people call a pest control company, the bottom line is that they want the pests dead! Now! Pest control firms are standing up against the tide of consumer demand for immediate eradication by enhancing their natural and green pest control product offerings. These new natural products take the most responsible long term approach to pest control; one that protects our environment, children, and our own health. Sometimes it is lonely moving against the tide of popular demand, but true leadership, in the pest control industry, means embracing these new organic and natural technologies even when they are not popular with the consumer – yet.

Gardening and Pest Control Exposed

Although it seems rather easy to set up gardening and pest control, there are many things that you must consider first. In fact, many of the things that you’ll read about here are not discussed often. Before you start your garden pest control, consider this…

Gardening and pest control is at least as old as agriculture. It’s an industry that’s growing rapidly. The pest control business has grown more than 50 percent in the last 5 years or so, and nationwide it has become a $7 billion industry.

With more homes being built in rural areas the problem of pest control has become more urgent.

What is Gardening and Pest Control?

It’s basically the reduction or eradication of pests. Whereas structural pest control is the control of household pests and wood-destroying pests and organisms or such other pests which may invade households or structures, gardening and pest control tends to be the control of pests that are affecting your plants, lawn and/or soil. That can sometimes spill over into the house as well, but by and large, it’s the garden we’re talking about here.

In order to protect our growing areas as well as our health, proper gardening and pest control is a necessity. It is often ignored until pests and their damage are discovered or it has got out of hand. Well there are measures you can take to help eradicate the problem.

How Do We Control Pests in the Garden?

Many people see gardening and pest control as a do-it-yourself job. Well that’s fair enough – up to a point. Gardening pest control is like visiting the doctor: to prescribe effective treatment your physician must correctly diagnose the problem and determine the extent of the injury as well as the potential for further injury. In surveys, it’s been found that many householders don’t bother to read the instructions carefully or feel the need to vary the instructions ‘because they feel they know better’.

That leads to over-concentrated doses of insecticide for example which could be hazardous to your health and any visitors. Of course we are specifically referring to chemicals, as chemical pest control is still the predominant type today. However, that said, the long-term effects of chemicals has led to a renewed interest in traditional and biological pest control towards the end of the 20th century.

For those who don’t do DIY gardening and pest control, there is the option of monthly visits from your local company. One advantage is that someone should be looking at your house and garden for pest problems regularly. One disadvantage is that homeowners insist that PCOs apply a chemical treatment monthly whether there is a pest problem or not!

The facts of pesticide use in the home and garden are very surprising:

- Each year 67 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns.
- Suburban lawns and gardens receive far heavier pesticide applications per acre than most agricultural areas.

Think before you spray a pesticide. You may kill the insects that are helping you keep pests in check. This means you will have to spray more in the future. Also, insects benefit your garden by pollinating your plants, helping them grow and propagate. Don’t use persistent, broad-spectrum, contact insecticides like diazinon, malathion and carbaryl. These provide only temporary pest control and are likely to kill more of the natural enemies than the pests. When their enemies are gone, pest populations may soar and become more of a problem than before they were sprayed.

Most consumers also don’t realize how potentially harmful they can be:

- Pesticides are easily tracked indoors — an EPA study found 23 pesticides in dust and air inside homes.
- Lawn chemicals can harm pets. Dog owners who use the herbicide 2,4,-D four or more times per season, double their dog’s risk of developing lymphoma.

It’s an eye-opening shock isn’t it? Can we really, really not be without these methods of pest control?

Gardening and Natural Pest Control

We believe the logical approach to gardening and pest control is to create a balance of organisms in your yard or garden. Natural pest control is less expensive than buying and applying pesticides, and it’s safer for your garden, natural wildlife and the environment.

Let’s look at some hints and tips to help your gardening and pest control:

- Beneficial insects that prey on problem bugs are available for sale
- If a plant, even a tree, has insect pest or disease problems every year, it’s time to replace it with a more tolerant variety, or another type of plant that doesn’t have these problems.
- By preventing pests from reaching your plants, you can avoid the damage they cause. And in cases where you only see a few pests, physically removing them can often keep the problem under control.

Let’s also look at some useful bugs you want to encourage in your garden:

Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.)
Bald-faced hornet
Centipede
Damselfly
Ground beetle
Honey bee
Mason bee
Parasitic wasp
Soldier beetle
Yellow jacket

Use these tips to make dealing with gardening and pest control a lot easier. If you follow the basics you will virtually eliminate your problem of garden pests forever.

Different Types of Pest Control Methods

Pest Control

Pest control is going to be a major threat for mankind in the coming future. Sooner or later we will all be affected by pests as it is omnisciently present everywhere. Whether it is ants or beetles in the kitchen or weeds in the vegetable garden, pests can be annoying. At the same time, many of us are not interested in pest control and the problems caused by pests as well as the pesticides we use to control pests.

Here are some questions most asked when thinking about pest control:-

- How can pests be reduced and controlled safely?

- Are the pesticides available, effective and safe?

- How and when should pesticides be used?

Pests are beneficial as well as a curse to mankind. Animals, bacteria and some insects are beneficial to people in many ways, but the same time they can also be pests. Pests such as rats, ants, cockroaches, mice and flies are common in houses and apartments. There should be an effective pest control to prevent pests in multiplying themselves in houses, which include effective pest management, pest control and pest prevention.

Pest Management

The best and most effective way for controlling pests is pest management which includes many steps. The first and most important step in Pest Control is to identify the pest problem. This includes finding out exactly what you are up against. Some pests (bacteria, animals) are really helpful to people, so it is very important to find out any harmful pests. The second thing is to decide how much pest control is necessary. Only the family who live in the affected area can judge how serious it is to take action. The third thing is to choose an available option for pest control such as chemical pest control or non chemical pest control.

You can control pests by many means; some of the options available are:-

Non Chemical pest control
Chemical pest control
Biological Methods

Another good solution for pest control is the use of chemical pesticides. It is not advisable in and around the home and commercial premises, as it will affect people adversely. The major drawback of this method is the result of the chemical pesticides treatment which are generally temporary, which in turn need repeated treatments. If used incorrectly, home-use pesticides can be poisonous to humans. While you are using chemical pesticides for pest control, the most important thing to remember is to take care in choosing the right pesticide product.

Another effective way in controlling pests is using the biological method. This is the method of using pest’s natural enemies to control them. Spiders, centipedes, ground beetles and ants are some of the beneficial bugs. This method is not harmful to people in any means and can be implemented effectively.

The Basics of Green Pest Control

Green pest control does not mean ineffective pest control; rather, it is all about integrated pest management, or IPM. A pest control company that embraces IPM believes prevention, client awareness and education, and building inspections are all as important as controlling pests.

What Green Pest Control Is

Integrated pest management begins with learning how and why a pest entered a home or building. Professionals in this field are knowledgeable about the life cycle of pests and their preferred nesting locations. Thus, they are able to use innovative pest prevention techniques that are the least hazardous to plant life, property, pets and people.

IPM uses common sense practices in coordination with environmentally sensitive chemicals. For example, instead of using harmful chemicals to prevent the return of a pest, pest control specialists may install preventative materials such as new window and door screens, fresh caulking, new door sweeps, and so on. The professionals may also set up traps to learn about additional areas a pest may live or install solar powered repellants as an alternative to using harmful chemicals.

The Benefits of Green Pest Control

Pest control products that are green are made of organic and natural ingredients. Additionally, these products are engineered to be biodegradable and equally as effective as their non-green counterparts.

Green pest management practices help promote the health and structure of plants, as they provide a biologically based alternative to chemical sprays. The control tactics used in IPM are benign and therefore reduce the environmental risk often associated with traditional pest management, such as ground water contamination. IPM also helps reduce the risk of an infestation and is a cost effective solution.

How It Works

Rather than spray a multi-purpose pesticide all over an infested property, IPM experts use a process that sets an action threshold, monitors the pests in order to identify them, prevents their return and uses control methods.

When an action threshold is set, the professional learns how large an infestation is, how much of a danger the pests pose, and determines the type of immediate action needed.

When an IPM professional monitors pests, he is making sure he is identifying the pest correctly. Proper identification of a pest helps ensure the right types of pesticides are used, but pesticides are avoided if they are not needed.

Prevention of pest invasions is one of the key components to green pest control. IPM includes identifying and correcting problems that make a home or building welcoming to pests. Prevention is cost effective and does not risk the health of individuals or the earth.

If pest prevention methods are ineffective by themselves, control methods are required. When professionals implement a control method, they first evaluate it for risk and effectiveness. Methods that pose the least risk, such as traps or the use of pheromones to disrupt mating, are used first. If the thresholds in place indicate these methods are not effective, the control process then moves to the use of pesticides in targeted areas.

What to Look for in a Green Pest Control Company

When looking for a green pest control company, seek one that will create a plan that meets your needs. The company should take into consideration the type of pest, the size of the infestation and the environment in which the pests live.

Learn about the process and chemicals a company uses before hiring them. Some professionals use green pest control products initially and then follow them with traditional chemicals, which you may not want. A good environmentally friendly exterminator should focus on using quality products that are low or non-toxic rather than products that are the least expensive, which are often highly toxic. Additionally, quality green pest control companies educate their clients on how to prevent the return of pest, help correct conditions that are inviting to them and offer to install pest-proofing materials.

The observation, prevention and intervention approach to green pest control helps consumers have peace of mind knowing that evicting pests from the home does not mean hurting the environment. Whenever you need the help of professionals to assist with unwanted pests, keep in mind that green pest management is the only method that has both your personal and financial well-being in mind.

Biological Pest Control – Is it the Answer to Pest Control-Related Environmental Concerns?

Before we can get into trying to understand whether biological pest control is the answer to the pest-control related environmental concerns, it would be proper to give ourselves a little background information on this whole pest control business; for the benefit of those who may be encountering it for the very first time.

Now, pests are organisms (typically insects) that are injurious to the interests of the people who refer to them as such. Thus to farmers, the insects that invade and eat up their crops (whether in the fields or during storage), would be termed as pests. On the other hand, the ‘domestic insects’ that tend to mess up with things in domestic settings (like moths, that can mess up with cloths in storage), are seen as pests by housekeepers. Worth keeping in mind is that although most pests are insects, there are also quite are number that are non-insects: with the likes of rodents (that can mess up with crops in farms of things stored in domestic settings) being seen as pests too, the fact that they are not insects notwithstanding.

Having seen that pests are injurious, it would be natural that the people who happen to ‘fall victim’ to them would want to get rid of them. In the meantime, people who haven’t yet fallen victim to pests would be keen to avoid such a ‘fate.’ Hosting pests, by the way, can be a serious fate: thousands of hectares of farmland have been known to be wasted by pests in a single day, leading to losses that often run into millions of dollars. It is the steps taken to avoid pest invasion then, or to resolve pest invasion if it has already taken place, that are referred to as constituting pest control.

Now pest control takes various forms, depending on the pests one is trying to get rid of (or to prevent the invasion of). And while bigger pests like rodents may be controlled through mechanical means like trapping, for a long period of time, it is chemical control that has worked for the vast majority of pests, which tend to be insects as previous mentioned. The chemicals used in this endeavor are what are termed as pesticides. And while pesticides are usually very effective in pest-control, the downside to them tends to come up when we consider the fact that they tend to be extremely environmentally unfriendly. Worth keeping in mind, at this point, is the fact that the chemicals referred to as pesticides tend to be very potent ones. So it often happens that traces of them remain where they were used, even after the pests are gone. Those traces are eventually washed down to the water bodies where they wreck great havoc to the (non pest) plants and animals resident in the water bodies.

It is concern about this environmental impact of chemical pest-control that led to questions as to whether a more environmentally friend method for controlling pests couldn’t be developed. The end result was the exploration of alternatives like the biological pest control, which we are trying to see whether it is really the answer to concerns raised about (chemical- based) pest control.

In biological pest-control, it is other organisms that are known to be predators to the ones viewed as pest that are unleashed upon the said pests; eating them up and therefore resolving the pest problem. Thus if the troublesome pests are aphids, the other organisms that are known to feed on aphids are introduced into the field where the problem is, to feed on the aphids, rather than spraying an environmentally unfriendly chemical.

The problem with biological pest-control, though, is that it tends to be of questionable efficiency. While chemical pest control tends to be thorough, leaving no pests or even traces of them, in biological pest control, that can’t quite be assured. Implementing biological pest control on a large scale basis (for instance on a thousand hectare plantation) can also prove to be a herculean task. Ultimately, it is considerations like these that make us keep on thinking of more environmentally friendly pest control approaches. This is because biological pest control, while definitely being an approach that addresses the environmental concerns raised about chemical pest control, it doesn’t seem to be efficient (or scalable) enough, in most people people’s view.