Using chemicals to control pests in a garden can be dangerous for the people and pets who come into contact with the garden, and can also damage the plants. Earth-friendly bug control methods are a common way to reduce or eliminate garden insect pests. Understand the options for insect control that is gentle and friendly to the plants and environment.
Earth-friendly insect control can help improve the health of the plants and prevent damage from insect pests without introducing harsh chemicals into the garden. Edible gardens benefit most from non-toxic insect control because it keeps the food plants from exposure to toxic pesticides.
Though not for the squeamish, hand-picking is one way to remove garden pests without damaging plants or soil with pesticides. For large pests like tomato worms, remove the offending pests by plucking them from the garden with a pair of protected gloved hands. Smaller bugs like mealyworms can be plucked from the plant with a pair of clean tweezers. Any insects removed from the plant should be discarded away from the plant to avoid re-infestation.
Also known as soft soap, insecticidal soap is a fatty-acid based soap used on many pests, including mealybugs, aphids, whitefly and fungus gnats. Insecticidal soap can damage the leaves of some plants, so it is advisable to test the soft soap on a small area of the plant before spraying the whole plant.
Many insect pests have their own natural enemies in the wild. Introducing a natural enemy of a pest can significantly reduce the numbers of insects pests like aphids, mealybugs, potato beetles, mites and tomato worms. Common beneficial insects include ladybugs, also known as lady beetles, aphid lions, known as lacewings, trichogramma wasps and nematodes. Beneficial insects are available online or at many large garden supply stores. Not all beneficial insects eliminate all pests; take care to ensure you get the right beneficial insect for your insect pest.
No matter what bug control method is used, it will affect the plant environment and may disturb the garden's growth. Use the most gentle method that effectively treats the problem, and do not overdo the bug control. A healthy garden should have some insects. They only need to be controlled if their numbers are causing substantial damage.