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Five Natural Methods For Controlling Insect Pests In The Garden

Gardeners know that even with the best gardening techniques, sometimes insect pests invade the garden and wreck havoc with flowers and vegetables. They aren't trying to make your life miserable, of course, but are just doing what comes naturally to them and enjoying a tasty meal. Getting rid of them can be a challenge, especially if you are opposed to using nasty chemical pesticides in your garden. The good news is, there are several ways you can keep insect pests under control without using harsh chemicals in your garden. Try these methods to keep insects at bay and promote healthy growth in your garden plants.

#1 Companion Planting

Companion planting is the practice of planting specific flowers and vegetables together in the garden to promote healthy growth. Some garden pairs actually boost growth and are thought to improve the flavor of the vegetables, while others are thought to help repel common insect pests or diseases. For example, planting summer savory with beans reportedly improves the growth and flavor of beans while repelling bean beetles. Garlic grown with beets is thought to improve the flavor and growth of beets, but when garlic is grown with roses, it repels aphids and thrips and may help control black spot and mildew. Using companion planting to help control inspect pests and promote healthy growth of your plants will go a long way to ridding your garden of insect pests the natural way. Even if the companion plant does not repel insects, improving the health and vigor of the companion plants will make them less susceptible to insect infestations and disease.

#2 Natural Insect-Repelling Plants

Some plants are thought to contain natural insect-repelling compounds, while others are thought to confuse insects by masking the scent of their host plants. While they can be used in companion planting, they can also be used as borders or dividers in the garden for the benefit of all your plants. Some common plants thought to mask the scent of plants or to repel a variety of insects include marigolds, nasturtiums, garlic, chives, and other highly-fragrant herbs. Surrounding your garden bed with these plants or planting them in wide rows or borders in the garden may not solve all your insect pest problems, but they will likely curtail insects. 

#3 Traps

Some insects and garden pests can be controlled by simple traps. This ranges from setting out a saucer of stale beer or yeast solution in the garden to attract and trap slugs to sticky traps to capture pesky flying insects. Natural traps come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are designed to catch insect pests without harming beneficial insects like bees. Some use natural pheromones (sexual attractants) to attract specific insects, while others provide a food source. You can buy natural insect traps at your local garden supply center or hardware store. Read the box description carefully to determine which types of insects the trap is designed to attract and capture.

#4 Natural Pesticides

Many natural pesticides are available in either a liquid or powdered form ready for application on your garden plants. Most are derived from plants known to repel insects. Some common natural pesticides available include products with pyrethrum and rotenone (plant-based insecticides) as the primary ingredient. Nicotine (from the Nicotiana plant), plant sterols and urushiol (from poison oak or ivy) may also be used, says Living With Bugs. Although these products are considered natural pesticides, always read and follow instructions carefully and keep them out of the reach of small children and pets. Some can cause skin irritation or pose a health risk if ingested.

#5 Homemade Pesticides and Insect Repellents

Many gardeners choose to make their own insect repellents from natural products. This includes using a variety of essential oils from plants, garlic, red pepper, and even pulverized bugs. If you are interested in learning to make your own homemade repellents, talk to local gardeners to find out their secret recipes or try one of the many recipes available online or in gardening books. How Stuff Works provides a list of 15 recipes that may be worth your time.

Sometimes the best insect control is gained by combining methods, like using companion planting to keep insect pests low and then treating them with a natural repellent when needed. Use the methods most convenient for you to keep your garden free of insect pests.

For more information about natural plant pesticide and other preventative measures, talk with different home and garden companies near you.