How can we manage pests and insects through environmentally friendly measures?
We are faced with a new challenge and have been looking into different methods that deal with pest management practices that are least harmful for people and our environment.
Environmental practices such as the LEED standards recommend users to develop an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan; IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on preventing, monitoring, and controlling pests which offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of pesticides while minimizing the toxicity of and exposure to any products used. It takes into account the following actions:
- Preventing Pest Infestation
- Choosing Least Toxic Materials
- Evaluating Strategies Used
Conventional pest control tends to ignore the causes of pest infestation and instead rely on routine, scheduled pesticide applications. Pesticides are often temporary fixes thus ineffective as a long term solution. Other control measures apply least-toxic products or natural insecticides such as:
- Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
- Soybean Oil
- Citronella Oil
- Flowers including Chrysanthemum or Tanacetum which contain the genus Pyrethrum.
Pyrethrum has been used for centuries as an insecticide, and as a lice remedy in the Middle East. The flowers should be dried and then crushed and mixed with water. However one should be careful from the labels of insecticides as some try to mislead users by stating that they are natural insecticides when in fact they are using Pyrethroids; synthetic insecticides based on natural Pyrethrum. The fact that they are derived from plants causes some people to assume that they are safe; however many plants are toxic, some more than others. For example, Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethrin (C21H20Cl2O3): it is a man-made poison that is a copy of two others found naturally in plants. Such a synthetic insecticide might have the following side effects: eye irritation, rash, itching, or blisters.
As a conclusion, we should always think of long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and the use of resistant varieties. Always read the labels well when purchasing insecticides and pesticides!