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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Do the Natural Thing (AKA: Feel like a natural)

I was just asked to write an article on “natural” pest control. I almost didn’t. It’s like talking about “safe” pesticides or “harmless” foods. The problem is: what is “natural”?

There are so many terms I try to stay away from when talking about pest control because they don’t have very good definitions. On top of that, people will interpret the words differently. Let’s start with “natural”:

Someone says they want “natural pest control” and by the above definition, they want pest control that exists in nature and not made by humans. The only type of pest control that exists in nature I know of is letting the ecosystem run its course and suffer with whatever pests are out there. Then, if you add in pest control not made by humans… I’ve got nothing on that, it just doesn’t exist. If you think about it, pests are natural!

Pest control is about controlling (by humans) the pests that are bothering us. It may be physical, chemical, or other means of pests not being a pest anymore. Doing any type of pest control means you are trying to alter a natural phenomenon.

When many people talk about wanting a “natural” or “green” (an even more ambiguous word) pest control, they are often talking about not using chemicals. Do not even get me started on “chemicals”, that’s going to have to be another entire blog post. But is not using pesticides a viable alternative? Absolutely. Sort of. It really depends.

First of all, many aspects of a good pest control program are, IMHO, very natural. Sanitation practices that reduce the available food, water, and habitat go a long way in reducing pests, all without any type of pesticide. Physically keeping pests out of a structure or away from a location with exclusion methods also counts as natural in my book. Add trapping into that category as well as physically capturing pests and therefore keeping them from infesting. This can even be stretched to modifying temperatures and atmospheres to be inhospitable for pests to live and/or reproduce.

That brings us to products and treatments. There are many pesticides available for different pests, situations, and applications. There are the “minimal risk pesticides” that are exempt from EPA registration. Just because these are made with plant oils and extracts does not mean they are more environmentally friendly than a traditional pesticide. I’m not going to go into efficacy, that’s another blog post! I do think there are good reasons and appropriate uses for those products. I also think using a registered pesticide is a great idea. I am a huge fan of baits and if baiting is done well, you can use a LOT less product. Using less with better results is part of a more “natural” pest control program.

It is important to define what “natural” is going to mean when it comes to pest control. People are going to have different thoughts on what that means and expectations need to be set.

The alternative is to just ask the pests to leave. Let me know if you have any luck with that. Until then, we can help make your programs more effective and set you and your customers up for success. Contact us here!

Urban Pest Consulting

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