Biological Pest Control Is Becoming An Ever More Popular Choice

Treat pest problems in your garden with biological pest control products to keep your family and pets safe! Biological pest control methods employ biological materials and natural predators to manage and reduce pest infestations.

ladybug as biological pest control

Biological pest control definition: in short it is a method of controlling pests such as insects, mites, weeds and plant diseases using other living organisms.

The biggest problem organic gardeners face is dealing with pests.  An infestation of aphids or cutworms can absolutely devastate a garden!  You can have an entire row of plants wiped out in days, or even hours.

First step in choosing the best biological pest control is to identify your pest

From ants to aphids, beetles, borers, caterpillars, moths, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, flies, fungus gnats, grasshoppers, crickets, leaf- and planthoppers, leafminers, mealybugs, midges, mites, moles, parasitic nematodes, psyllids to slugs and termites … the list seem endless.

If you’re having trouble with a particular pest, you can take pictures and then try to identify the pest.  Go online and try to search for it.  If you can’t identify it, you can take your pictures to your local county extension office or library and ask for help identifying it.

There are many types of natural enemies.

  • Parasites for example can live and feed in or on a host.
  • Pathogens are microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, nematodes, protozoa, viruses) that can infect and kill the host.
  • Predators (amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles, beetles, spiders, wasps) kill and feed on several prey during their lifetimes.

Parasitic wasps are maybe one of the most effective predators as they fight aphids, carpenter worm, clearwing moth larvae, caterpillars, elm leaf beetle, eucalyptus long-horned borers, giant whitefly, glassy-winged sharpshooter, lace bugs, mealybugs, psyllids, scales, thrips, weevils, and whiteflies.

With biological control of pests you should keep a close eye on your plants to spot potential problems before they get out of control.  For example if you see a hornworm on your tomato plants, you can pluck it off quickly and drown it in soapy water.

biological control of pests hornworm on tomato plants

Once developed into mature caterpillars, braconid wasps lay eggs on the worm, which in turn eat the caterpillar as they develop.

You should do everything you can to encourage natural insect predator and pirate bugs like ladybugs, praying mantis, ground beetles, tiny wasps and birds (e.g. blackbirds, bluebirds, sparrows, crows, wrens). Some types of plants like mint and rosemary can attract many beneficial bugs that can help you keep other insects under control.

For enduring biological pest control give the good bugs a chance to survive and breed in your garden by leaving a little bit of litter and fallen leaves for shelter and egg laying. Wildflowers are perfect to attract beneficial predators.

There are many other natural solutions available, you can make your own by using recipes that can be found in most organic gardening books.  Most of them will be sort of like a tea, made with things like hot pepper sauce and garlic.

When you can, you should try to plant species that are native to the area in which you live.  These plants have natural immunity to many common diseases in the area.  There are also plants that are pest-resistant, and won’t have as many problems with pests as other varieties.

If you plant early enough, you may be able to avoid the worst part of the bug season.  Insects have just a short period of each year in which they will be active and eating your plants.  If you plant early, you may be able to harvest before those insects terrorize your plants.

You may be able to prevent some pests by installing netting over your plants.  Although this is probably a last resort, you may be able to save your plants from utter devastation if you have a particularly bad season of beetles or other such bugs.

Just remember, netting will also prevent beneficial insects from reaching your plants, so if some pests make it through, it may be harder to detect them and for predator insects to control them.

How to control mosquitos in your garden naturally.

Most fish will eat mosquito larvae. BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) is used to safely control mosquito larvae in areas of standing water, rain barrels, garden ponds, garden water features in a rock garden, or any place subject to flooding and hatching mosquito eggs.

Pest control is a very difficult part of organic gardening. 

If you lose a crop to insects, you may be tempted to abandon organic gardening and rush out to buy a chemical spray.  A lot of organic gardeners experience this!  Don’t feel bad.  It can certainly be very frustrating to deal with pests, especially when you’ve worked very hard to take care of your plants all season.

The disadvantage of organic and natural pest control methods, they reduce the population of the pest, but do not completely remove the pest. By watching your plants daily, you have a chance to stop these problems before they become too difficult to handle.

But just remember, organic gardening has so many benefits that it’s really worth it to go through all of the extra work.  If you opt for biological pest control your family will be rewarded with healthy food that is safe to eat!

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