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Guide to Organic Pest Control

Although pests and diseases can appear despite your best efforts, if you’re familiar with their symptoms and the controls that can be used against them, you’ll have a better chance of stopping them before they can become a problem.

What is Organic Pest Control?

Contrary to what most people believe, “organic” does not automatically mean “pesticide-free”. It means that these pesticides, if used, must be derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured. All pesticides, whether they are organically or synthetically derived, have some degree of toxicity, and therefore potential to harm human health and the environment. To reduce their use, many organic farmers focus on a system of integrated pest management (IPM), which is an eco-friendly technique of controlling pests through the use of long term prevention and environmental balancing strategies. Integrated pest management makes use of beneficial insects, bio-pesticides such as Neem Oil, and other practices to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides, and only uses the least toxic organic pesticides are necessary.

Beneficial Insects

Beneficial insects (or “beneficial bugs”) are any of a number of species of insects that perform valued services like feeding on and destroying pest species.   Safe for you, your plants, and the environment, beneficial insects are effective on a wide variety of crops in greenhouses, indoors under grow lights, as well as in home gardens and in outdoor commercial field applications.

Beneficial insects can be categorized broadly as either predators or parasites. During development, in both adult and immature stages, insect predators actively search out and consume their prey insects. Predators include lady beetles, green lacewings, and damsel bugs.  Insect parasites develop in or on a single host from eggs or larvae deposited by the adult parasite.  The parasite basically lays its eggs inside host, and its offspring eat the host from inside out when they hatch. Common parasites include tachinid flies and many kinds of wasps.

Always remember to check your pesticide label if you are also using beneficial insects in your garden, as the pesticide could destroy both populations. Most insecticides are relatively broad spectrum, killing beneficials as well as target pests. If you must use a toxic chemical in your garden, allow for a proper “wait” period after pesticide use (15-30 days, depending on the product) before reintroducing beneficial bugs.

Neem Oil

Derived from the Neem Tree, Neem oil is one of the most widely used pesticides in organic farming today.  It can protect garden plants from a large number of insects including aphidsthrips, and whiteflies. Neem oil contains many complex active ingredients that are similar to the hormones insects produce. Insects will take up the neem oil ingredients like natural hormones, but once neem enters the system it blocks the real hormones from working properly. As a result, insects forget to eat, mate, or lay eggs. Some insects even forget that they can fly. If eggs are produced they don’t hatch, or the larvae don’t molt.  The population eventually plummets, and they simply disappear.

Neem does not persist in the environment and is degraded by ultraviolet light and rainfall. Many neem-products tend to have low mammalian toxicity. Because many neem products degrade quickly, they may have less of an effect on non-target beneficial organisms compared to many of the more traditional pesticides.

For a more effective version of Neem Oil, we recommend using Azamax, an organic pest control method designed to decimate pest populations. It is made from completely organic ingredients, specifically from one bio-compound found in Neem Oil (Azadirachtin). AzaMax does not use hard chemical solvents and uses only food grade formulation ingredients. AzaMax successfully targets spidermites, thrips, fungus gnats, aphids, whiteflies and many other airborne and soil borne pests. AzaMax is an antifeedant and insect growth regulator and it controls pests through starvation and growth disruption.

21 thoughts on “Guide to Organic Pest Control

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