Alternatives to Herbicides & Pesticides, Healthfully

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Alternatives to Herbicides & Pesticides

Herbicides and pesticides used to control weeds and kill garden pests can be toxic to humans and to the environment. Toxins from chemicals used in the garden seep into the ground and can harm wildlife and beneficial insects. Pesticide and herbicide alternatives are available. A combination of treatments will prove the most successful.

Organic Pesticides

Unfortunately, organic pesticide treatments can also kill off natural pest enemies, good bugs, while ridding you of your problem insects. Consider the effect of the organic pesticide and where it will be used. For instance, mineral oil is sometimes sprayed on plants to get rid of aphids. However, mineral oil also kills ladybugs, which eat the aphids.

Certain plant oils have insecticidal qualities, either killing or repelling pests. For example, jojoba oil kills whiteflies and cinnamon repels ants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Spice-based organic products are currently in use by farmers 2. These organics have shown success in protecting strawberries, spinach and tomato crops. The spiced-based pesticides are a combination of rosemary, thyme, clove and mint. Other plants that show insect-fighting potential include lavender, basil, bergamot and patchouli oil. They are sprayed on the plants but tend to degrade rapidly and therefore must be reapplied often. Another benefit of the spiced-based oils is they do not kill beneficial bugs.

Insecticidal soap made from coconut oil and bacillus thuringienis, Bt, which is a disease to insects, is another organic option. Insecticidal soap can be toxic to fish, so use caution if you have a pond near your garden.

Predator Insects

Predator insects, such as ladybugs and praying mantises, are a natural solution to controlling garden pests. They reduce the need for pesticides and do not have a negative environmental impact. Beneficial bugs also include:

  • the western damsel bug
  • lady beetle
  • green lacewing
  • minute pirate bug
  • assassin bug
  • hover fly
  • tachinid fly
  • according to the University of Oregon

Mechanical Control

Mechanical control is just what it sounds like, hand picking weeds. A 2007 study by the Rodale Institute asked organic farmers what they did about weeds. Hand weeding was the most common method used by farmers to control weeds. Mulching, flame weeding and animal grazing are other mechanical control practices that are effective. Mechanical control eliminates the need for chemical herbicides.

Herbicides and pesticides used to control weeds and kill garden pests can be toxic to humans and to the environment. Toxins from chemicals used in the garden seep into the ground and can harm wildlife and beneficial insects. However, mineral oil also kills ladybugs, which eat the aphids. Other plants that show insect-fighting potential include lavender, basil, bergamot and patchouli oil. Another benefit of the spiced-based oils is they do not kill beneficial bugs. Mulching, flame weeding and animal grazing are other mechanical control practices that are effective.

5 Methods To Get Rid Of Garden Pests Without Harmful Chemicals

Some garden critters are up to no good and the bad news is that often your innocent plants don’t stand a chance against them on their own. But rather than breaking out the harmful chemicals and pesticides, consider these natural, eco-friendly solutions put together by NY City Pest Control. Their “Guardians of the Garden” are everyday superheroes that come in both insect and plant form, working to repel unwanted invaders or attract beneficial insects to help fight your pest problem. The best part of these solutions: you get to let Mother Nature do the work for you! It doesn’t hurt that these Guardians are kid and pet friendly too. Check out the infographic below to learn more about organic methods of pest control for your best summer garden yet.

The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!


Slug-like sawfly larvae feed on leaves and skeletonize them, leaving only a framework of veins. Here’s how to get rid of them using proven, organic methods.

Best product
for Sawflies

Diatomaceous Earth

Contains diatomaceous earth, a fine powder made from tiny fossilized algae-like plants.

Sawflies (Caliroa cerasi), also known as cherry or pear slugs, are widely distributed throughout the United States and Canada. They are a common pest of mountain ash, hawthorn, cotoneaster, cherry, plum and pear trees, and are occasionally found on quince and shadbush. High populations can defoliate entire trees.


Young larvae (1/2 inch long) are greenish-black, elongated, slim and slug-like, with very little evidence of legs. As the slugs grow, they become lighter colored. When fully mature, pear sawfly larvae resemble green-orange caterpillars. The adult (1/5 inch long) is a black and yellow, 4-winged non-stinging wasp (sawfly) that is rarely noticed.

Life Cycle

The winter is passed in the soil inside a cocoon. In the late spring, shortly after trees have come into full leaf, the adults emerge and deposit their eggs in the leaves. These hatch a week or more later, depending on temperature. Larval development is completed in less than a month and pupation takes place in the soil. Adults emerge during late July and August and lay eggs for the second generation of slugs. This generation usually causes the greatest amount of injury, especially on young trees which they may completely defoliate. When this second generation of larvae becomes fully grown, they go into the ground and remain as larvae until the following spring, when they pupate. There is usually only one generation per year, but there may be a partial second.

Sawfly Control

  1. Cultivate around trees and shrubs in the early spring and again in the fall to help reduce the overwintering population.
  2. Wash slugs off leaves with a strong jet of water from the Bug Blaster; larvae may also be sprayed with Safer® Soap.
  3. Apply food-grade Diatomaceous Earth for long-lasting protection. Made up of tiny fossilized aquatic organisms, that look like broken glass under the microscope, DE kills by scoring an insect’s outer layer as it crawls over the fine powder. Contains NO toxic poisons!
  4. AzaMax contains azadirachtin, the key insecticidal ingredient found in neem oil. This concentrated, organic insecticide offers multiple modes of action, making it virtually impossible for insect resistance to develop. Best of all, it’s non-toxic to honey bees and many other beneficial insects.
  5. Surround WP (kaolin clay) forms a protective barrier film, which acts as a broad spectrum crop protectant for preventing damage from insect pests.
  6. Many growers are reporting great success with Monterey® Garden Insect Spray (Spinosad). A relatively new insect killer, it can be applied to a large number of ornamental and garden plants. Best of all, it’s OMRI Listed for use in organic production.
  7. Least-toxic botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Derived from plants which have insecticidal properties, these natural pesticides have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemicals and break down more quickly in the environment.
See also:  How to Get Rid of Bugs That Eat Holes in Clothes, Our Everyday Life

Recommended Products

Bug Blaster

Creates an AMAZING 360° wall of water to blast bugs off plants — NO toxins!

Safer Soap

The original insecticidal soap! Concentrated formula makes 6 gallons of spray.

Diatomaceous Earth

Contains diatomaceous earth, a fine powder made from tiny fossilized algae-like plants.

AzaMax (Azadirachtin)

Works as well as synthetic formulas, but without the environmental impact.

Surround WP

Applied as a liquid, Surround WP — kaolin clay — evaporates leaving a protective film.

Garden Insect Spray (Spinosad)

An effective insect killer that was recently discovered from soil in a rum distillery.

Yard & Garden

Kills aphids, beetles, ants and caterpillars on contact, yet is gentle on plants.


A powerful, fast-acting formula made to provide broad spectrum relief.

Protect Your Home With 6 Termite Control Services In SG

Termites are known to be one of the most destructive pests as they cause property damage in homes. They feed on cellulose found in wood and wood by-products thus, any structures created from wood in your house are at risk if there is an infestation. Despite being minuscule, they can cause significant damage over time when they get to work.

In a typical colony, there are thousands of terminates which can cause damages in the house, resulting in stress, annoyance and stress. Termites can go undetected in your home while they slowly eat away at its structure – which is where a termite control specialist would come in to check and recommend remedial treatments. Don’t wait until it’s too late – check out our list of 6 pest specialists with termite control in Singapore and get your home inspected.

Note: This list is strictly not in order.

1. PestClinic

With over 30 years of experience and expertise combined, PestClinic provides pest control services to various sectors across commercial, industrial and residential. They incorporate traditional methods with latest technology to ensure pests are eliminated swiftly. Their team is made up of NEA-certified specialists who are trained to provide efficient and safe solutions to a number of pests including termites.

Termites not only deal damages to properties, they also carry out “exploratory feeding” that results in damage to PVC casing and electrical copper wiring. This affects wall-panel structures, ceiling and furniture which have to be replaced. PestClinic uses a number of treatments to detect and treat the infestation areas. They also provide corrective treatment with warranty, aimed to protect and control the termite damage using termiticide solution. This ensures your premises are free from termites once the entire treatment process completes.

Contact: +65 6397 5677
Address: 3 Ubi Avenue 3, #05-03A, Singapore 408857
Operating Hours: Mon-Sun 8.30AM-6PM

2. Eco Space Pest Management Pte Ltd

Founded on 2018, Eco Space Pest Management Pte Ltd pride themselves on their experience and expertise to provide a comprehensive range of pest control services to residential, commercial, industrial and F&B sectors in Singapore. They are committed to deliver effective solutions that are environmentally friendly to keep your space safe. Their dedicated team of professionals have over a decade of experience in the pest control business – so you can be sure they are well-equipped to handle any obstacles in safeguarding your environment.

At Eco Space Pest Management Pte Ltd, they provide various types of treatments for termites such as above-ground baiting, dusting, and anti-termite corrective treatment. Without proper treatment on time, this can cause severe damage to the building and cause structures to be unliveable until repairs. They will carry out a visual inspection to potential infestation site using the latest tech equipment before recommended the effective treatment.

Contact: +65 6747 6868
Address: Geylang Industrial Estate, 1014 Geylang East Ave 3, #05-192, Singapore 389729
Operating Hours: Open 24 hours


At TOTAL PEST CONTROL PTE LTD, they provide pest control services to residential homes, schools, healthcare facilities, commercial businesses and food distribution warehouses – just to name some. Termites pose a threat that may be often overlooked until the infestation grows to be severe which can put the structural integrity of your property in jeopardy. TOTAL PEST CONTROL PTE LTD offers fast, reliable and professional solutions for common pests including bed bugs, flies, bees and termites.

For termite control, they use a number of treatments such as spot treatment, dusting, baiting and foam to decimate termite colonies. Don’t ignore the first signs of infestation and defend your house from termites. Serving with only the highest standards in the industry, TOTAL PEST CONTROL PTE LTD ensures you will get the best service and products to eradicate your pest problem. Schedule your termite home inspection with their free no-obligation quote!

Contact: +65 9145 7175
Address: 120 Potong Pasir Avenue 1, #01-824, Singapore 350120
Operating Hours: Open 24 hours

4. Maximum Pest Management

Maximum Pest Management offers pest control strategy services to residential, retail, commercial and industrial sectors while meeting your specific needs. They provide the best practice and options for future proofing, with compliance with regulations, and improve health and safety in the environment. Initial audits will be carried out to inspect the biology and behaviour of the pests you have within the premises before recommending any pest control strategy. Their pest control specialists will then propose the most effective control programme suitable to resolve your pest problems.

The company’s strategy for pest control sets out methods to help prevent pest infestation in the future. This is effective against termites which will locate a new breeding site for another colony and spread infestations throughout the location. Treatment options include baiting and soil treatment along with regular inspections to ensure total guard against these pests.

Contact: +65 62920515
Address: 54 Maude Road, #02-06, Singapore 208346
Operating Hours: Open 24 hours

5. Topgrid Pest Specialist Pte Ltd

As the leading provider of pest and termite control services, Topgrid Pest Specialist Pte Ltd serves with superior customer satisfaction across sectors in government, construction, commercial and residential. Founded in 2005, they provide comprehensive range of high quality and cost-effective pest control services, carried out by a reliable team of trained professionals equipped with the required knowledge to tackle pest issues. They deliver services with excellence and care as they understand the frustrations and damages that occur due to infestations.

Aside from providing strategies to get rid of pests, they also offer pest solutions that are pre-emptive to help prevent infestations. Over the years of operation, they have always emphasized on providing effective and quality green pest control services to protect property and promote a healthy living environment. ECOMESH, their eco-friendly termite solution, is chemical-free and has an anti-termite physical barrier that comes with a warranty of 10 years.

See also:  Fleas in the apartment - where they are and how to get rid of them forever

Contact: +65 6438 3368
Address: Eldix, 11 Mandai Estate, #09-17, Singapore 729908
Operating Hours: Mon-Fri 8AM-5PM | Sat 8AM-12PM | Closed on Sun

6. A Team Pest Control

Serving since 2001, A Team Pest Control provides 24-hour general pest control services to prevent and control the breeding of pests around your premises. Their pest control work is continuously reviewed to maintain efficacy and effectiveness in abating pests. While they specialise in cockroaches, rodents, bees and common ants, they also provide termite treatments. These include wood treatments for parquet flooring as well as existing and new cabinets at homes, and soil treatment for construction sites.

Their Pest Control Team provides a comprehensive pest inspection with detailed report so you can gain a better understanding of their treatment. If left untreated, termites can cause great damage to your home. Extermination of pests is crucial to also help prevent and control pest borne diseases. This way, you can also maintain a clean, orderly and pest-free environment that’s safe to live in.

How to Do It Yourself, Pest Control With Mothballs

Things You’ll Need

1 Box of Mothballs

Several empty containers, such as old butter bowls

Pick up a box in the grocery store and save, unopened. You have instant rat, snake and flea control, without calling anyone.


Keep away from children. Don’t place mothballs in an open area in your home.

Do it yourself pest control can be as simple as buying a box of mothballs. Used correctly and in proportion, it can be worth it’s weight in gold. Rid your home and yard of unwanted creatures for several bucks.

Take back your territory and say goodbye to those unwelcome critters that creep into your home and yard.

Find out how to save money, time and frustration by doing it yourself.

Step 1

Use mothballs as a do it yourself pest control for fleas. Place several mothballs in the vacuum cleaner bag. At first sight of fleas in your home, vacuum rugs and carpet.

If you have an attachment, vacuum sofa cushions also. Discard the old bag, taking it out of the house. If you don’t, the fleas lay eggs, hatch in your vacuum bag, and escape.

The fumes kill the fleas in the bag. When used this way, the mothballs don’t make your house smell.

Step 2

Rid your home of mice or rats. Don’t sprinkle an entire box in the problem area.

Use just a few in an old container, such as an old butter bowl. The problem most people have with using mothballs is the smell.

Remember to use them in proportion and remove once the pest problem is gone.

Step 3

Use mothballs to rid your yard of snakes. Unlike other pests, snakes can’t smell very well. However, mothballs work on snakes much like an unknown place (without a map) works on us.

We get lost and confused, so we either keep driving or stop to ask for directions. Either way, we keep moving when we’re lost. The same thing applies to a snake when using mothballs.

If you’re having to go under the house or up in the attic, put a container with several mothballs in the correct location a day ahead of time.

Redlegged Earth Mite

Paul Umina, Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, The University of Melbourne
January 2007

The redlegged earth mite (RLEM) — (Halotydeus destructor) is a major pest of pastures, crops and vegetables in regions of Australia with cool wet winters and hot dry summers. The RLEM was accidentally introduced into Australia from the Cape region of South Africa in the early 1900s. These mites are commonly controlled using pesticides, however, non-chemical options are becoming increasingly important due to evidence of resistance and concern about long-term sustainability.

Identification & distribution

Adult RLEM are 1 mm in length and 0.6 mm wide (the size of a pin head) with 8 red-orange legs and a completely black velvety body. Newly hatched mites are pinkish-orange with 6 legs, are only 0.2 mm long and are not generally visible to the untrained eye. The larval stage is followed by three nymphal stages in which the mites have 8 legs and resemble the adult mite, but are smaller and sexually undeveloped.

Other mite pests, in particular blue oat mites and the balaustium mite, are sometimes confused with RLEM in the field. Blue oat mites can be distinguished from RLEM by an oval orange/reddish mark on their back, while the balaustium mite has short hairs covering its body and can grow to twice the adult size of RLEM. Unlike other species that tend to feed singularly, RLEM generally feed in large groups of up to 30 individuals.

The RLEM is widespread throughout most agricultural regions of southern Australia. They are found in southern NSW, on the east coast of Tasmania, the south-east of SA, the south-west of WA and throughout Victoria. Genetic studies have found high levels of gene flow and migration

within Australia. Although individual adult RLEM only move short distances between plants in winter, recent surveys have shown an expansion of the range of RLEM in Australia over the last 30 years. Long range dispersal is thought to occur via the movement of eggs in soil adhering to livestock and farm machinery or through the transportation of plant material. Movement also occurs during summer when over-summering eggs are transported by wind.

Life-cycle & biology

Earth mites are active in the cool, wet part of the year, usually between April and November. During this winter-spring period, RLEM may pass through three (sometimes only two) generations, with each generation surviving six to eight weeks.

RLEM eggs hatch in autumn following exposure to cooler temperatures and adequate rainfall. It takes approximately two weeks of exposure to favourable conditions for over-summering eggs to hatch. This releases swarms of mites, which attack delicate crop seedlings and emerging pasture plants.

RLEM eggs laid during the winter-spring period are orange in colour and about 0.1 mm in length. They are laid singly on the underside of leaves, the bases of host plants (particularly stems) and on nearby debris. They are often found in large numbers clustered together. Female RLEM can produce up to 100 winter eggs, which usually hatch in eight to ten days, depending on conditions.

Towards the end of spring, physiological changes in the plant, the hot dry weather and changes in light conditions combine to induce the production of over-summering or ‘diapause eggs’. These are stress resistant eggs that are retained in the dead female bodies. Diapause eggs can successfully withstand the heat and desiccation of summer and give rise to the autumn generation the following year.

RLEM reproduce sexually, with an adult sex ratio that is female biased. Reproduction occurs when the male RLEM (which is smaller than the female) produces webbing, usually on the surface of the soil. It then deposits spermatophores on the threads of this webbing, which the female mite picks up to fertilise her eggs.

Figure 3: The life cycle of the redlegged earth mite.

Behaviour & damage

The RLEM is called an earth mite because it spends 90% of its time on the soil surface, rather than on the foliage of plants. The mites feed on the foliage for short periods and then move around before settling at another feeding site. Other mites are attracted to volatile compounds released from the damaged leaves, which results in feeding aggregations.

See also:  7 Cool Facts About Water Striders - Cool Green Science

Typical mite damage appears as ‘silvering’ or ‘whitening’ of the attacked foliage. Mites use adapted mouthparts to lacerate the leaf tissue of plants and suck up the discharged sap. The resulting cell and cuticle damage promotes desiccation, retards photosynthesis and produces the characteristic silvering that is often mistaken as frost damage. RLEM are most damaging to newly establishing pastures and emerging crops, greatly reducing seedling survival and development. In severe cases, entire crops may need re-sowing following RLEM attack.

RLEM hosts include pasture legumes, subterranean and other clovers, medics and lucerne. They are particularly damaging to seedlings of all legumes, oilseeds and lupins when in high numbers. They feed on ryegrass and young cereal crops, especially oats. RLEM also feed on a range of weed species including Patersons’ curse, skeleton weed, variegated thistle, ox-tongue, smooth cats’ ear and capeweed.

RLEM feeding reduces the productivity of established plants and has been found to be directly responsible for reduction in pasture palatability to livestock.


Carefully inspect susceptible pastures and crops from autumn to spring for the presence of mites and evidence of damage. It is especially important to inspect crops regularly in the first three to five weeks after sowing. Mites are best detected feeding on the leaves in the morning or on overcast days. In the warmer part of the day RLEM tend to gather at the base of plants, sheltering in leaf sheaths and under debris. They will crawl into cracks in the ground to avoid heat and cold. When disturbed during feeding they will drop to the ground and seek shelter.

RLEM compete with other pasture pests, such as blue oat mites, for food and resources. Competition within and between mite species has been demonstrated in pastures and on a variety of crop types. This means control strategies that only target RLEM may not entirely remove pest pressure because other pests can fill the gap. This can be particularly evident after chemical applications, which are generally more effective against RLEM than other mite pests.


Chemical control

Chemicals are the most commonly used control option against earth mites. While a number of chemicals are registered for control of active RLEM in pastures and crops, there are no currently registered pesticides that are effective against RLEM eggs.

Autumn sprays:

Controlling first generation mites before they have a chance to lay eggs is the only effective way to avoid the need for a second spray. Hence, pesticides used at or after sowing should be applied within three weeks of the first appearance of mites, before adults begin to lay eggs. Timing of chemical application is critical.

  1. Pesticides with persistent residual activity can be used as bare earth treatments, either pre-sowing or at sowing to kill emerging mites. This will protect seedlings which are most vulnerable to damage.
  2. Foliage sprays are applied once the crop has emerged and are generally an effective method of control.
  3. Systemic pesticides are often applied as seed dressings. Seed dressings act by maintaining the pesticide at toxic levels within the growing plant, which then affects mites as they feed. This strategy aims to minimise damage to plants during the sensitive establishment phase. However, if mite numbers are high, plants may suffer significant damage before the pesticide has much effect.

Spring sprays:

Research has shown that one accurately timed spring spray of an appropriate chemical can significantly reduce populations of RLEM the following autumn. This approach works by killing mites before they start producing diapause eggs in mid-late spring. The optimum date can be predicted using climatic variables, and tools such as TIMERITE® can help farmers identify the optimum date for spraying. Spring RLEM sprays will generally not be effective against other pest mites.

Repeated successive use of the ‘spring spray’ technique is not recommended as this could lead to populations evolving resistance to the strategy. To prevent the development of resistance, the selective rotation of products with different Modes of Action is advised.

Biological control

There is evidence of natural RLEM populations showing resistance to some chemicals, therefore, alternative management strategies are needed to complement current control methods.

At least 19 predators and one pathogen are known to attack earth mites in eastern Australia. The most important predators of RLEM appear to be other mites, although small beetles, spiders and ants also play a role in reducing populations. A predatory mite (Anystis wallacei) has been introduced as a means of biological control, however, it has slow dispersal and establishment rates. Although locally successful, the benefits of this mite are yet to be demonstrated.

Preserving natural enemies may prevent RLEM population explosions in established pastures but this is often difficult to achieve. This is mainly because the pesticides generally used to control RLEM are broad-spectrum and kill beneficial species as well as the pests. The chemical impact on predator species can be minimised by choosing a spray that has least impact and by reducing the number of chemical applications. Although there are few registered alternatives for RLEM, there are groups that have low-moderate impacts on many natural enemies such as cyclodienes.

Natural enemies residing in windbreaks and roadside vegetation have been demonstrated to suppress RLEM in adjacent pasture paddocks. When pesticides with residual activity are applied as border sprays to prevent mites moving into a crop or pasture, beneficial insect numbers may be inadvertently reduced, thereby protecting RLEM populations.

Cultural control

Using cultural control methods can decrease the need for chemical control. Rotating crops or pastures with non-host crops can reduce pest colonisation, reproduction and survival. For example, prior to planting a susceptible crop like canola, a paddock may be sown to cereals or lentils to help reduce the risk of RLEM population build up. Cultivation can also help reduce RLEM populations by significantly decreasing the number of over-summering eggs. Hot stubble burns can provide a similar effect.

Clean fallowing and controlling weeds around crop and pasture perimeters can also act to reduce mite numbers. Control of weeds, especially thistles and capeweed, is important, as they provide important breeding sites for RLEM. Where paddocks have a history of damaging, high density RLEM populations, it is recommended that sowing pastures with a high-clover content be avoided.

Appropriate grazing management can reduce RLEM populations to below damaging thresholds, possibly because shorter pasture results in lower relative humidity, which increases mite mortality and limits food resources.

Other cultural techniques including modification of tillage practices, trap or border crops, and mixed cropping can reduce overall infestation levels to below the economic control threshold, particularly when employed in conjunction with other measures.

This note was prepared with the assistance of Michelle Pardy (DPI), Andrew Weeks (Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation through the National Invertebrate Pest Initiative.

The previous version of this note was published in December 2006.

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