It makes little sense to attract wildlife to a
backyard while using toxic chemicals for weed and pest control. The
bluebird nesting in the birdhouse could die from eating insects we
have poisoned in the garden. Florida ranks first in U.S. pesticide
and fungicide use, but thirty-third in planted cropland; over
one-third of chemicals are applied in urban areas.
Explore ways to deter pests in your garden without
resorting to toxic chemicals that may harm humans, pets and
wildlife. Lacewings and ladybugs, for example, control harmful
insects through predation. Companion planting separates plants
susceptible to the same bugs and diseases, and partner plants that
are beneficial to each other. Marigolds, for example, planted with
vegetable crops repel harmful nematodes in the soil.
Make your own insecticidal spray by making a
concentrate of one tablespoon dishwashing liquid to a cup of
vegetable oil. To use, mix two teaspoons of this to a cup of water.
Spray on plants for effective control of aphids, white flies and
spider mites. If necessary, use an insecticide derived from plants,
such as rotenone, pyrethrum, sabadilla or ryania. Remove diseased
plant material and overripe produce from the garden, as these
attract pests. Pull weeds up by the roots.
For more information on alternatives to toxins,
contact the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (http://www.ifas.ufl.edu/), University of
Florida, Gainesville, FL 32608