Earth-Friendly Bug Control for the Garden

Overview

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.

Benefits

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.

Hand-Picking

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.

Insecticidal Soap

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.

Beneficial Insects

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.

Considerations

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.

Keywords: beneficial insects, organic garden care, pest control

About this Author

Snowden Trouper is a freelancer who has been writing since 1992. She has been published at Gardenguides.com, Travels.com and eHow, frequenting topics like gardening, health, music, technology, and travel tips. Trouper holds an Associate of Arts with a journalism focus from Moorpark College and a Bachelor of Arts in the arts from California State University San Marcos.