Organic Pest Control Products & Techniques

Organic pest control involves using naturally-occuring substances to control harmful insects and other pests. Organics is an important alternative to chemical pest control because it is far healthier for the environment, not to mention those who come in contact with your landscape -- such as children. Organics is the smart, economical, practical, and effective alternative to chemical treatment.

East Texas Landscaping & Fencing, Inc. proudly offers a complete line of organic products, including pest control, lawn care, and gardening products. In addition, our professional landscaping and landscape maintenance services take full advantage of organic techniques. We welcome you to come visit our shop for your organic product needs, or e-mail us with any organics-related questions you have.

Bugs/Insects | Vermin & Small Animals | Recipes | Herbal Repellents

Surprisingly, there are highly-effective alternatives to chemical pest control, and most are inexpensive and very easy to do. The following is a list of common household pests, and the organic technique we recommend to solve the problem:

Let's begin with common bugs and insects. Most are beneficial and necessary and should not be killed. There are, however, some bugs that are harmful. We recommend controlling harmful bugs and insects with organic solutions and beneficial insects, as noted below.

Excerpted (paraphrased) from Howard Garrett's Texas Organic Gardening. 1998, Gulf Publishing Company

BUG: LOOKS LIKE : CONTROL BY:
Ants Carpenter, Pharaoh, Sugar, etc. Diatomaceous earth, boric acid, diacide, and pyrethrum. Boiling water, vinegar, or garlic tea poured directly on mound. Citrus products, baking soda, or herbal tansy will repel indoors.
Aphids Tiny beetles; some look like tiny bees with fly wings. Strong blasts of water; seaweed, compost tea, molasses, and vinegar spray. Release green lacewings or ladybugs.
Bagworms Leave "bags" on ornamental trees; look for defoliation. Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt), hand-pick bags in winter. Release Trichogramma Wasps.
Bees Call a local beekeeping club or society for removal if needed.
BENEFICIAL INSECT
Should not be killed.
Beetles Six legs; hard, round shelled body. Rotenone and sabadilla or garlic tea. M-One. Dust with all-purpose flour.
MAKE SURE THE BEETLE IN QUESTION IS DESTRUCTIVE; MANY ARE BENEFICIAL.
Borers Look for tunnels in trees. Beetle larvae. Rotenone and pyrethrum or quinine in open holes; seal with putty. Diatomaceous earth at base of trees. Rub lye soap on the trunk. Trunk Goop.
Cabbage Loopers Moth larvae; Smooth caterpillar-like body with appendages (legs) at front and rear, but not in the middle. Use soap as a surfactant, then spray Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt). Release Trichogramma wasps.
Canker Worms As above, but with fat bodies. Hangs on trees from silk thread. Native wasps usually control, or use Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt). These are not especially harmful.
Casebearers Look for coccoon-like "cases", especially on pecan trees. Release Trichogramma Wasps and Green Lacewings.
Caterpillars Kill only in the case of heavy infestation or defoliation. Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) or wasps.
Chiggers Very hard to see; you'll usually only recognize them after a bite by noting a tiny red dot in the middle of the bite. Diatomaceous earth and sulfur. (Vinegar and comfrey juice rubbed into bites will eliminate itch.)
Chinch Bugs Tiny, black pinhead-sized bugs; found on lawns. Diatomaceous earth.
Crickets Small, brownish-black; similar to grasshoppers. Solution of diatomaceous earth, pyrethrum, and citrus products or boric acid for indoor control. Use Nosema Locustae products for outdoor control.
Cutworms Short, soft-bodied worms usually found curled up below soil surface. Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt), or dust using diatomaceous earth or colloidal phosphate.

Elm Leaf Beetles

Small, pill-shaped beetles found on unhealthy elms. Diatomaceous earth, soap spray, and fish emulsion/seaweed spray. Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt). Beneficial insects.
Fire Ants Look for elevated mounds, usually with granular-looking sand. Very active "swarming" mounds. Manure compost tea, citrus oil, and molasses. Apply beneficial nematodes to mound. On dry days, mix diatomaceous earth into mound (DO NOT do this if the mound is visibly active without carefully protecting against attack, or on humid days). Dry instant grits poured on top of mound. Maintenance: regular spraying with Garrett Juice.
Fireflies Small, somewhat beetle-like and elongated with wings. In the dark, they "flash" approximately once every six seconds.
BENEFICIAL INSECT
Should not be killed.
Fleas Very small, jumping bug; usually black, but also red and brown. Dust pet areas with diatomaceous earth. Bathe pets regularly and feed them garlic and natural diatomaceous earth. Indoor control/repellents include rue, wormwood, and pennyroyal mint, Demize, or citrus oil extract. Pyrethrum/rotenone for outdoor control.
Flies Common housefly, horsefly, etc. Repel with tansy or garlic. Feed animals small amounts of natural diatomaceous earth. Release Trichogramma and other predatory wasps and fly parasites. Don't forget the old standby fly swatter.
Forest Tent Caterpillars Fuzzy, dark with a light stripe. Native and beneficial wasps; Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) for heavy infestations.
Fungus Gnats Most visible in morning or evening sublight; tiny flying gnats that swarm over patches of grass. Baking soda sprayed lightly on soil or a citrus oil drench. These are not especially harmful pests.
Galls Fuzzy or hard-shelled "blister" growths on leaves; the result of insect stings to leaves and fruits. These are not especially harmful, and look worse than they are. Soil health is really the only effective control.
Grasshoppers Green, brown, etc. Usually controlled by birds populations. For heavy infestations, the brands Grasshopper Attack, Nolo Bait, and Semispore are effective. To repel and control, use citrus oil-based sprays, garlic-pepper tea, or dust with all-purpose flour.
Green Lacewings Light green, slender bodied (similar to butterfly bodies) with transparent green wings.
BENEFICIAL INSECT
Should not be killed.
Ground Beetles Hard-shelled, round, six-legged; usually black, dark brown, or fall colors.
BENEFICIAL BUG
Should not be killed.
Grubworms Fat, smallish, multi-segmented caterpillar-like subterranean worms; dark heads. Best controlled by soil health and beneficial nematode products. "Giant" grubs are probably the larvae of beneficial beetles, and are not harmful.
Horsefly See "flies" above. See "flies" above.
Lacebugs Flat, oval, found on deciduous trees and broadleaf plants. They look like a cross between a beetle and a moth, and are very small. Citrus spray or garlic-pepper tea.
Ladybugs Small, round, red hard-shell body with black head.
BENEFICIAL INSECT
Should not be killed.
Leaf Miners Like leafhoppers; look for brown foliage, especially at leaf tips. Products containing neem extract or Garrett Juice plus citrus oil with seaweed mix. Not an especially harmful pest.
Leafhoppers Look something like large fleas with wings. Control with Garrett Juice plus garlic, or maintain healthy garden biobalance.
Mealybugs Look like cotton on plant stems. Control with citrus, predator insects (especially green lacewings), diatomaceous earth, neem, and/or lizards. Indoors, dab mealybugs with alcohol using a cotton swab.
Mites Tiny, tick-like. May be black, brown, red, etc. Frequently accompanied by webbing on plants and ornamental trees. Spray seaweed or garlic-pepper tea on underside of leaves every 3 days for 9 days total. Strong blasts of water followed by release of ladybugs and green lacewings. 1oz blackstrap molasses in 1 gallon of water to create a spray.
Mosquitoes All varieties and sizes Birds and bats provide excellent natural population control. Eliminate all standing water. Use a garlic-pepper tea and seaweed spray on adults, and for perimeter repellent. Citrus sprays, purple martins, frogs, and toads. Citrosa and/or citronella candles also help.
Moths All varieties; "fuzzy" bodies as compared to butterflies, and typically winged in shades of brown or cream. Trichogramma wasps and other native wasps; Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt). A candle next to a shallow pan of soapy water works as a trap.
Nematodes Microscopic roundworms. Keep soil healthy when using this beneficial insect.
BENEFICIAL ORGANISM
Should not be killed.
Pillbugs Small, grayish-black, pill-shaped, hard-shelled; also called, "Roly-poly" or "sow bug" Hot pepper products and citrus oil. Beer or soapy water in a trap is another solution. Evening primrose, citrus-based products. Banana peels attract them (for traps).
Praying Mantis Large, green, similar to elongated grasshopper, but with distinctive "praying" posture.
BENEFICIAL INSECT
Should not be killed.
Predatory Mites Pear-shaped body with longer legs than spider mites; orange to salmon in color with no spots.
BENEFICIAL BUG
Should not be killed.
Roaches All varieties; all sizes. Also known as "water bugs," "palmetto bugs," and cockroaches. They feed on cloth, books, cardboard, paper bags, and food scraps. Roaches live outdoors; are among the fastest-moving living things on the planet, and can penetrate virtually any crack or opening. Eliminate standing water. Spread diatomaceous earth throughout yard/grounds, and around building foundation. Boric Balls. Dust hiding areas with boric acid. Remove stored cardboard and brown grocery bags. Keep kitchens and bathrooms clean and free of standing water, specifically around plumbing. A more expensive solution is a commercial fogging machine (such as Fogmaster®) and a strong mixture of citrus-based solution.
Scale Attach to stems, branches, and trunks, and look something like fungus. Citrus oil sprays, lime sulfur spray, vegetable oil, dormant oil, mild soap and water with seaweed spray, and ladybugs can all control scale infestations.
Slugs Gelatinous; may be nearly clear, or varying shades of brown. Similar to a snail without the shell. Slugs leave silvery sticky filament "webs" on plants and along walls in moist places. Use garlic-pepper tea with diatomaceous earth or beer traps. Citrus oil sprays and rotenone are also effective.
Sowbugs See "pillbugs" above. See "pillbugs" above.
Spider Mites See "mites" above. See "mites" above.
Spiders Not technically a bug, but an arachnid. Varieties include garden spiders, wolf spiders, and all other beneficial varieties. Identify brown recluse by "violin" shape of body and light brown color. Identify black widow by red "hourglass" marking on abdomen.
BENEFICIAL BUG
Should not be killed,
(with exception of black widow and brown recluse).
Squash Bugs Look something like elongated beetles with pinpoint heads. Very difficult to control, they attack vine fruits and vegetables and some ornamentals. Smash eggs on back of leaves, dust adults with sabadilla, and plant lemon balm between plants. Dust young plants with all-purpose flour.
Termites Look somewhat like large ants with fat abdomens. Queens are smaller and winged with wings twice body length. Citrus oil sprays kill on contact. Wood treatment boric acid products such as Tim-Bor. Use a 16-grit sand barrier around plumbing, under slab, and outside of grade beams on new construction.
Thrips Invisible to the naked eye; look for attacks on tight-petaled flowers such as buds of roses. Control and repel with seaweed, pyrethrum, and green lacewings. Citrus oil sprays as a last resort.
Ticks Small, round, eight-legged. Ticks appear flat, but can become ball-like upon feeding. These are difficult to control. Release beneficial nematodes and bathe pets regularly. Demize or other citrus products sprayed in pet areas help.
Trichogramma Wasps Gnat-like wasps that look similar to tiny bees. These wasps do not sting.
BENEFICIAL INSECT
Should not be killed.
Wasps Red, brown, black, blue, etc. Thick-bodied with long wings. Also known as "mud daubers." Only sting if threatened; excellent natural control of flies.
BENEFICIAL INSECT
Should not be killed.
Whitefly Very small; resemble little white moths. Impossible to control with pesticides. Garlic-pepper tea or citrus sprays. Seaweed and garlic-pepper tea spray. Release green lacewings.
Whitefly Parasites Look like tiny grains of rice. A parasite of the whitefly, and about the size of a spider mite.
BENEFICIAL ORGANISM
Should not be killed.

Other beneficial bugs include pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs, assassin bugs, dragonflies, syrphid flies, giant wheel bugs, and many others. Do not spray pesticides if you intend to use beneficial bugs and insects for pest control.


HERBS THAT REPEL PESTS:


Basil Flies & Mosquitoes
Borage Tomato Worm
Datura Beetles
Chives Fruit Tree & Tomato Pests
Garlic Aphids, Weevils, Borers, Beetles, Spider Mites
Henbit Most Insects
Lamium Potato Bugs
Lavender Ants
Marigold Many Insects
Nasturtium Aphids, Squash Bugs, Whiteflies
Onion Cabbage Moths
Pennyroyal Ants, Aphids, Ticks, Fleas
Peppermint Ants
Pyrethrum Most Insects
Rosemary Cabbage Moths, Beetles, Mosquitoes, Slugs
Rue Beetles
Sage Moths
Spearmint Ants, Aphids
Thyme Cabbage Worms & Other Insects
Tansy Ants


VERMIN AND SMALL ANIMAL CONTROL:

ANIMAL: ORGANIC CONTROL:
Armadillo Live trap
Bird Cats, onion/garlic spray, birdscare flash tape, or soapy water.
Cat Dogs, citrus extract or peelings, live traps, hot pepper, or rose cuttings.
Deer Egg spray, soap bar, human hair, electric fence.
Dog Live traps, dog run, Dog-B-Gone home brew.
Gopher Black Hole Gopher Trap, gopher spurge, or garlic and castor plants.
Mouse Traps, baits, cats, peppermint.
Mole Black Hole Gopher Trap, gopher spurge, or garlic and castor plants.
Rabbit Low and recessed fences, cayenne pepper, or blood meal.
Raccoon Live traps, garlic-pepper tea, or electric fence.
Rat Death traps, live traps, citrus oil.
Skunk Live traps
Snake Introduce bull and king snakes or roadrunners, guineas, and other snake-eating birds.
MOST GARDEN SNAKES ARE BENEFICIAL.
Squirrel Live traps, fox urine, or blood meal and cayenne pepper.
Turtle Underwater traps for aquatic turtles.
LAND TURTLES ARE MOSTLY BENEFICIAL.

 

RECIPES:

Boric Balls:
1 cup Boric Acid
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
Mix, add water to dough-like consistency, roll into cakes, and place in hiding areas such as behind appliances and around plumbing pipes. KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN & PETS.

Dog-B-Gone Home Brew:
1 part Cayenne Pepper
2 parts Mustard Powder
2 parts Flour
Mix together and dust area. Cayenne Pepper alone will also work.

Garlic-Pepper Tea:
2 cloves Garlic
2 Cayenne or Habenero Peppers
Combine in blender that is approximately 1/3rd full of water. Strain solids and add water to make one fluid gallon of concentrate. Shake well before using, and dilute 1/4 cup of concentrate with one gallon of water for spray. Two tablespoons of vegetable oil per gallon of concentrate will make solution stronger if necessary.

Garrett Juice: (See Howard Garrett's Texas Organic Gardening)
1-2 cups Compost Tea
1 tbsp Seaweed
1 tbsp Molasses
1 tbsp Natural Apple Cider Vinegar
Combine ingredients in one gallon of water.

Trunk Goop:
1 part Diatomaceous Earth
1 part Soft Rock Phosphate
1 part Manure.
Combine together with enough water to create a paste or mud. Use to paint tree trunks to control borers and other pests.

Excerpted (paraphrased) from Howard Garrett's Texas Organic Gardening. 1998, Gulf Publishing Company
East Texas Landscaping & Fencing, Inc. recommends this publication.

 

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