Monday, April 22, 2013

Organic Insect Killer For That Garden

Organic insecticides control unwanted pests.

Unwanted insects are a problem in virtually every garden. But the presence of such pests doesn't mean you have to use synthetic chemicals on your flowers, shrubs and vegetables. Organic gardening is growing in popularity, and there are a number of organic insecticides available. Like any pesticide, the various organic options come with advantages and disadvantages. Read labels carefully to determine which option is right for you and your garden.


According to the University of Missouri Extension, intelligent organic gardening begins with preventing insect infestations. Cover vegetables with row covers---lightweight fabrics that are draped over vegetable rows to prevent insects. Also, look for plant varieties labeled as resistant to certain kinds of pests. Discard plants after harvest so they don't become harbors for unwanted pests. Finally, plow the garden in the fall, so birds can find and feast on insects and insect eggs.


If, despite prevention efforts, you still need an insecticide, there are many organic choices. According to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, organic insecticides are divided into two categories---botanical and mineral-based.

Botanical insecticides, such as nicotine sulfate, sabadilla and pyrethrum, are chemicals derived from plant sources. Mineral-based insecticides, such as sulfur and Bordeaux mixture, are derived from natural mineral sources.

Both varieties kill a wide variety of common garden insects and are considered appropriate for organic gardening.


Some gardeners mistakenly believe that because an insecticide is organic, it poses no danger to humans or pets. Organic insecticides carry toxicity ratings (caution, warning, danger) just like any other chemical. For example, nicotine sulfate carries a danger warning and is readily absorbed through the skin according to the University of Colorado Cooperative Extension. Read labels and follow instructions carefully.


One major advantage of organic insecticides, according to the University of Colorado Cooperative Extension, is that they break down more rapidly, meaning less environmental pollution. In addition, Princeton University reports that up to 30 percent of traditional insecticides are carcinogenic. Replacing a traditional insecticide with an organic version means less unnecessary exposure to potentially cancer-causing chemicals.


Organic insecticides tend to cost more and are harder to find than their synthetic counterparts, according to an article by Kansas State University Research and Extension. Also, because organic insecticides break down more quickly, you may need to apply them more often than synthetic options.

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