Pests are every farmer’s nightmare.
Whether they own a small kitchen garden or acres of farmland. They wreak a lot of havoc not only on plant and animal health, but also on human health.
Some would abruptly erupt like an African volcano in your garden so rapidly. This because, animals and human beings are the end consumers of the said plants.
A pest is defined as any living organism, bet it animal, plant or fungus, which has a detrimental effect, small or extensive on plants, humans or animals.
However, effects of pests cuts across the board because, an organism can be harmful (pest) in one setting, but beneficial or acceptable in another.
Pests are classified in different categories. These include: vertebrate pests such as birds, amphibians such as bull frogs, mammals including rats, arthropods, nematodes and last but not least, and gastropod molluscs among others.
Pests are controlled mainly by use of agrochemicals which are sprayed on the plants.
Whilst this is effective, some pesticides tend to be too harsh and do not wear off the plant easily. They therefore end up killing both the plant and the pest.
And if at all the plant survives, some of the pesticide that has not worn off finds itself in animal or human stomachs. This is quite dangerous to the extent of causing serious illness or even death in some extreme cases.
That is why of late we have many homemade pest control recipes such as the DIY recipes.
These serve the same purpose as the normal pesticides but do not have a detrimental effect on plant, animal and human health.
Effects caused by pests
Pests’ negative effects are injurious not only to human health, but also to plant and animal health.
Pests act as carriers for allergens which tend to irritate most persons with certain medical conditions.
Pest’s fecal matter and shed skin can become airborne, thus contaminating the air we breathe in. This, more often than not, results in airborne diseases. This is besides the bacteria that live on the pest’s bodies which cause harmful ailments.
Common household pests such as rodents, roaches and mosquitoes are carriers for infectious diseases hence should be exterminated lest they wreak havoc.
Roaches in particular, can slip through cracks in the walls, bring in harmful bacteria with them, such as salmonella.
Besides causing malaria, mosquitoes also carry dengue fever. It is highly recommended that all stagnant water be drained and water containers frequently used be covered up. This denies mosquitoes a breeding ground.
Affect food sources
Pests compromise our food sources. The airborne bacteria spread by pests may land on our food sources hence causing disease if the food is not handled cautiously.
Damage to produce
Another negative effect brought about by pests is damage on agricultural products. This has a detrimental effect on the economy as well.
A lot of loss is occasioned on an unlimited number of crops which would have been exported, earning revenue for the country.
A swarm of pests has the ability to destroy a whole season’s worth of planting and cultivation.
Besides that, the ecology also suffers as a result of pest invasion. This because, pests prey on native fauna, hence lowering or rendering their numbers extinct, which in return upsets the balance of ecology.
Pests also destroy habitats of other living organisms as well as natural resources. This results in a reduction of water quality, an increase in soil erosion, land degradation and destruction of native plants which provide food and shelter to other native species.
A reduction or extinction of native species is the worst ecological tragedy that could ever occur.
Last but not least, pests can also harm the ecology through their competition with native animals for food and shelter. This occurs when pests poison or pass on diseases to them, leading to the decline of certain animal and plant species.
In a nutshell, pests are nuisances in their own right, which should not be taken lightly, lest they wreak unprecedented havoc.
Natural DIY pest control recipes
Despite the fact that pesticides rid our farms of pests, they also have a detrimental effect on plant and animal health. And this where organic pest control methods such as the DIY pest control recipes come into play.
Non-toxic pest control methods are not only healthier and safer, but are also cheaper and very effective. Another plus is that they are homemade and are easy to prepare and use.
The following recipes include some of the best DIY’s pest control methods. They are easy to prepare, cheap and easy to use.
- Homemade Insecticidal Soap
- Neem Oil Insecticide
- All –in-one homemade Insecticide spray
- Diatomaceous Earth
- Organic Baking Soda DIY Pesticide
Most importantly, remember to make use of gloves when handling the components.
1. Homemade Insecticidal Soap
This is aDIY pest control recipe that all gardeners ought to know of. What the gardener ought to have is:
- 1 gallon of water
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil or any other vegetable oil
- 5 tablespoons of soap such as castile soap. (Ensure that you do not use detergents or soaps that contain a degreaser or a fragrance while preparing this pesticide.)
Mix all ingredients thoroughly and put the resulting mixture in a spray bottle.
The mixture can then be sprayed directly on pests and coat infested plants. This pesticide works well on harmful pests such as mites, aphids, white flies, thrips and leaf hoppers.
Insecticidal soap works by dehydrating the insect and dissolving its exoskeleton in the fatty acids present in the soap and oil.
However, it is important that you ensure that there is no sign of withering or browning on the plants. In case there is, then discontinue use of the insecticidal soap.
2. Neem Oil Recipe
Neem oil is a natural, plant-based, not-toxic, organic substance which works as a pesticide, fungicide as well as an insecticide.
Moreover, it is effective to the extent that it can help control and get rid of over 200 species of pests such as aphids, mites, whiteflies, Japanese beetles and last but not least, mealy bugs.
The best part?
Neem oil has a lot to offer. It kills insects at all stages, be it adult, larvae or egg. It manages to do so since it has an active chemical, azadirachtin which works as an antifeedant/ disruptor or by smothering.
- 1 gallon of water
- 4 teaspoons of organic cold-pressed virgin neem oil
- ¼ teaspoon of eco-friendly liquid soap
Mix soap and water and shake thoroughly then add the Neem oil slowly while stirring the contents.
Pour the mixture into the hand sprayer and apply over the plants.
While spraying, ensure that you cover the plant’s entire foliage, including the stem and the underside of leaves where insects often hide.
Most noteworthy, take caution not to spray the plant’s buds or blossoms.
3. All-in-one homemade Insecticide spray
This all-in-one DIY natural insecticide is said to be a combination of many different recipes.
- 1 bulb of garlic
- An onion
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- A tablespoon of liquid soap
Puree the bulb of garlic and onion, then add the teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder.
Let the mixture steep for an hour.
Strain the mixture and add the tablespoon of liquid soap and mix properly.
Pour the resulting mixture into a spray can.
The insecticide can sprayed onto both the upper surface of the leaves as well as the undersides.
4. Diatomaceous Earth
Of all other pest control recipes, this one is the easiest to prepare. Diatomaceous earth is a powdery organic substance made of fossilized diatoms.
It works by cutting through the insect’s exoskeleton, causing it to dehydrate.
The best part?
It does not harm earthworms, hence quite beneficial.
- 2 cups of diatomaceous earth
- 1 gallon of water
Mix 2 cups of diatomaceous earth with one gallon of water.
Shake thoroughly and put the resulting mixture in a spray can. After that, you can spray the mixture on your plants.
Most importantly, you’ll be sure to have pest free plants after using this recipe.
5. Organic Baking Soda DIY Pesticide
As unbelievable as it may sound, baking soda does not only belong in the kitchen, but also in the farm. It is a very multipurpose ingredient that is quite useful, inexpensive and safe to use.
For you to prepare this particular pesticide,
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/3 cup of olive oil/ cooking oil
- 1 cup of water
Mix all the ingredients together, shake thoroughly.
Put the mixture in a spray bottle.
And there you have it, your organic baking soda pesticide which wards of or kills pests like aphids, spiders, mites and white flies.
The main advantage of using this pesticide is that it does not work to the detriment of beneficial insects. It can also be used on almost all types of vegetables or flowers.
Besides the aforesaid use, the baking soda pesticide can also be sprinkled around flower beds to bar rabbits from nibbling on buds.
It can also be used to get rid of outdoor ants by sprinkling baking soda on the mound after making it damp.
After thirty minutes, pour a small amount of vinegar on the mound. The ants will end up ingesting the concoction and their body enzymes end up working on them.
Lastly, you can also use baking soda to get rid of backyard slugs by sprinkling baking soda over the plants. This kills them by drying them up instantly once they glide over the plants.
From the above, we can make out that pest control need not be solely associated with pesticides.
The DIY pest control recipes can be used in place of pesticides and perform an even better job.
Every farmer ought to familiarize themselves with and put to use these recipes for protection of their plants, themselves and ultimately, for better yields.
Samson Lulii is a young aspiring freelancer, currently pursuing degree of tourism management at the Technical University of Mombasa-Kenya. He is the editor and sole owner of African Zeal.