Natural Garden Pesticides
Wondering if it matters whether or not you use natural garden pesticides?
It matters to the birds!
Each year, approximately 672 million birds are directly exposed to pesticides and of these, about 10 percent, or 67 million birds, are estimated to die immediately as a result.
Several species of songbirds have experienced die-offs.
Since World War II, the manufacture and use of pesticides in the United States has increased ten-fold. Based on 1997 data, approximately 4.5 billion pounds of chemicals are used as active ingredients in pesticides each year in the United States.
Many legal pesticides have been shown to harm birds. About 40 pesticides, most of which can be used in the United States, are known to kill birds even when applied according to label instructions!
The chemical compounds most often implicated in bird kills are organophosphorus and carbamate insecticides (e.g., parathion, diazinon, aldicarb, and carbofuran), which disrupt a bird’s nervous system, eventually resulting in respiratory failure and death.
What Can You Do?
Homeowners play a major role in pesticide consumption. Use natural garden pesticides.
Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers and spend more per acre, on average, to maintain their lawns than farmers spend per acre on crops.
Fortunately, homeowners have many opportunities to lessen the impacts of pesticides on birds and minimize bird deaths, by using natural garden pesticides;
- Reduce your dependence on pesticides and use natural garden pesticides. Practice prevention and minimize the build-up of pests, thus reducing the need for pesticides. 1. Move piles of wood away from the house and elevate them off the ground; 2.clear away litter, garbage, and pet droppings; 3. and provide good drainage to prevent standing water that will attract pests such as mosquitoes.
- Plant native grasses, shrubs, and trees. Natural Grasses for Birds This will help decrease the need for fertilizers and watering, as well as pesticides, because native plants are often hardier than non-native plants and less susceptible to pests and disease. Contact your County Cooperative Extension Service for help in identifying native plants for your region. Put an assortment of plants in your yard to increase biological diversity and encourage a variety of beneficial organisms that provide natural pest control.
- Rotate the plants in your annual garden to reduce pest buildup and maintain soil quality.
- Grow plants that are natural insect repellents, such as lemon balm, among your flowers and vegetables to help keep unwanted insects away.
- Attract birds! Birds play an important role in natural garden pest control. Even leaf-eating birds prefer nutritious insects when building strength for parenthood. In fact, insects are a major part of many songbirds’ diets. Design your yard to provide ample food, cover, and shelter for birds, and place a birdbath in the center of your garden. (Birds can usually find enough food, but adequate water is often hard to come by.) For lots of ideas and info Wild Birds home.
- Choose natural garden pesticides and controls whenever possible. In your garden, try mulching to avoid weed growth, and spading, hoeing, or pulling up weeds. For your lawn, mow frequently and set your mower at 2 to 3 inches. This encourages a healthier, thicker lawn better able to survive drought, tolerate insect damage, fend off disease, and shade out weeds that are attempting to germinate and grow.
- Use selected pesticides and apply them carefully. If you must use a chemical pesticide, use one that is specifically registered for your needs and has the least environmental impact. Apply it in a controlled and localized manner to help prevent contamination of surrounding areas by aerial drift, runoff, or other means. Contact your County Cooperative Extension Service or local nursery for help in identifying pesticides that most closely meet these criteria. Always closely read and follow the directions on the product label when applying pesticides. Be aware that many “organic” pesticides may be just as toxic as synthetic pesticides.
- Properly dispose of surplus pesticides according to product labels or by checking with local solid waste management authorities.
- Learn more. Information on least-toxic alternatives to pesticides is widely available in books and magazines on organic gardening, which can be found at local libraries and at home and garden centers. The Internet is also a good source of information. Try this site: at The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Environmental Contaminants Program
Attracting wild birds is a good, safe way to combat pests!
Please give some thought to using natural garden pesticides.
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