Pest control is cause for anyone to be concerned about how the products will affect you, the environment, and your family, pets, and wildlife. While many people consider this when using pest control products in their gardens by choosing products suitable for natural or organic use, safe pest control indoors is just as important. Luckily there are several types of naturally derived products available to keep you and your family safe while getting rid of bugs.
Choosing naturally derived pest control products
There are a number of ingredients you should watch for when choosing a safe pest control products, and it can be a bit confusing to sift through them all. They can be found in a wide variety of products for use around the home and in garden on vegetables and flowers. You will mostly find natural pest control products split into two categories: botanicals and minerals. Botanicals and minerals have a very low level of toxicity to people, plants, and animals if used correctly, but keep in mind that many of these products are poisons. Use the same safety techniques associated with synthetic pest control chemicals. Here is a quick list of common ingredients and what they might help control in your home or garden:
- Pyrethrum or pyrethrins: Pyrethrums are extracted from a type of chrysanthemum flower. This product can be form in its natural form or a synthetic version, known as pyrethroids, permethrins, bifenthrin, or cyfluthrin. It must be applied directly to insects to be effective, and can be found in a very wide variety of products suitable for garden and indoor use.
- Neem oil: This oil is extracted from a seed of the neem tree native to India. It is natural and acts as a feeding deterrent, growth regulator, repellent, and has a knockdown effect. It is most effective in controlling young growing insects. It can be found in organic formulations and it suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
- Limonene: This is extracted from citrus peels and acts as a contact insecticide against several types of insects. This ingredient is commonly found in insect repellents, insect sprays, and tick and flea control for pets, and is often formulated to be safe around food. Take caution, however, as this can cause skin irritation.
- Essential oils: Essential oils are highly concentrated materials from plants. Often you will find cedar, cinnamon, citronella, citrus, clove, garlic, mints, and rosemary oils and others as active ingredients of natural pest control products. They act as disruptors of neurotransmitters of insects only, making them safe to use around pets and people. Clove oil contains a component called eugenol, which has been found to be very effective and low-risk.
- Diatomaceous earth: This product is made from fossilized silica shell remains of prehistoric single-celled organisms called diatoms. This product abrades the outer layer of an insect’s body, causing them to lose moisture and dry out. It is effective on a variety of crawling insects.
- Boric acid: Derived from boron, this product acts like a stomach poison and causes insects to stop feeding and die of starvation. You can find boric acid in a variety of formulations and commonly used to control ants and cockroaches.
- Silica gel or dust: Like diatomaceous earth, silica desiccates insects, drying them out but without the abrasive quality of the diatomaceous earth. It is commonly used to control cockroaches, silverfish, and other insects.
Jenny Gagas is a home and garden writer living in the Midwest, with a passion for the outdoors and always searching for ways to make life more enjoyable. She often writes about food, home improvement, and gardening. Photo by Adrian Paine