By Julie Martens Forney
One of my favorite organic pest control techniques is rolling out the welcome mat for insect-eating birds. A basic birdhouse attracts insect-eating birds such as house wrens, which sing beautifully and gobble bugs like crazy.
Add a birdbath and bird feeders to attract more birds. The insect-eating birds that devour bugs in my Mid-Atlantic garden are Carolina wrens, chickadees, native song sparrows, titmice, and nuthatches.
Mix soapy water. For truly affordable organic pest control, add a squirt of dish soap to water. Hold your soapy water underneath stink bugs, Japanese beetles, and other slow-moving bugs -- and knock them into it. Researchers debate how soap kills bugs. Some say it blocks spiracles (breathing tubes); others say it disrupts cell membranes. All I know is, it works. I use the same container of soapy water for a week. The bubbles disperse, but the soap remains effective.
Save eggshells. Eggshells make an organic pest-control dust that’s highly effective against slugs, earwigs, pill bugs, and even Japanese beetles. I dunk eggshells into soapy water (optional), and spread on a towel to dry. Crumble the dry eggshells into a coffee grinder, and grind them into a fine powder. Sprinkle your eggshell powder onto plant leaves and around the base of plants. The eggshell powder works like diatomaceous earth, damaging insects’ bodies. Ground eggshells stain dark clothing like chalk; stains come out in the laundry.
Try Bt. A reliable organic pest control for caterpillars is the bacterium Bt, short for Bacillus thuringiensis. You mix Bt with water and spray it on plants. Spray plants in the evening, before caterpillars appear for nightly feeding. Bt kills cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, tomato hornworms, corn earworms, and just about any other worm you can think of. Bt saves my cole crops every year from caterpillar assaults.
Try these organic pest control techniques. They’re simple, effective and affordable. That’s my kind of gardening.
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