Natural Insecticides Save Birds

Pests in the garden are a real problem, but the use of pesticides is actually making the problem worse. Pesticides include anything that kills things we humans don’t like. That includes insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Not only are these dangerous chemicals inundating our planet – we here in the US are getting MORE than our share. Of the 5 billion pounds of pesticides used each year, more than 20 percent are used in just one country. The US is the single largest consumer of pesticides in the world. Scary, isn’t it?

birds in the garden

Pesticides don’t just disappear once they are sprayed or used in the home, garden or elsewhere. The residues stay in the environment for weeks, months, even decades. They have been linked to birth defects, cancer, premature puberty in children, infertility and a host of other health issues.

The use of pesticides in the US is now 10 times what it was before World War 2 – yet the loss of crops to pests has actually doubled during that same time. One reason is that pests become immune to the poisons far more easily than humans, birds or other animals do. Another reason is that pesticides are killing birds and bats at an alarming rat. Birds and bats are both vital to keeping the insect population under control. As birds are killed off, the insects they would have eaten are going after our gardens and farms. Birds may become sick and die from exposure to pesticides, or they may look fine but be unable to breed or produce viable offspring. Their eggs may have thin shells or their babies may have defects that can kill them.

What about the humans? Those toxins lodge in your liver. The liver is where your body processes most toxins. You can’t live without a liver. Your liver also controls metabolism. Some pesticides mimic hormones in your body, with effects we don’t fully understand. You see, most of those chemicals are not studied for their effects on humans. Worse, we have no idea what happens when those pesticides are combined with other toxic chemicals in your body.

So, what are the alternatives? Natural insecticides are organic methods for controlling pests. In addition, there are natural ways to control pests such as planting hardier species, killing bugs directly, encouraging birds to live in your garden, and companion planting (planting things together that can help reduce pests, such as marigolds in the vegetable garden to ward off some bugs). Using these safer methods can help protect your family and your home. They can also make your garden safer for birds and other beneficial animals.

There are natural insecticides available  from many sources including local garden centers and online. The first step is to learn which bugs are common problems in your area. The agricultural extension office or a little internet research can help you with this. Then learn which methods are effective at reducing those pests. For instance, slugs can often be controlled with a safe bait or by encouraging them to drown in fermented fruit juice. Row covers can reduce the effects of cabbage worms Рas well as help to protect sensitive plants from early frosts.

You might even save money. Those toxic chemicals are expensive. Natural insecticides can be inexpensive or even free. While some do cost a lot, there are usually less expensive alternatives for natural insecticides.

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