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10 Best Insecticide and Pesticide Alternatives

People today are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmental preservation. With the threat of climate change looming over everyone, it's now more apparent how greener practices can help improve society and the environment.

In this guide, let's learn the best insecticide and pesticide alternatives you can try. 


Why Go for Pesticide Alternatives? 

Insecticide and Pesticide Alternatives

Caring for nature is one of the many ways people can play an active role in reducing global warming effects. Unfortunately, the tools and materials used to achieve this goal can often do more harm than good. 

For instance, the wrong use of the herbicide Paraquat can lead to several unfortunate results. This includes poisoning or increased risk of diseases similar to the ones mentioned in a recent Paraquat lawsuit for Parkinson's Disease.

According to reports, patients who have been exposed to Paraquat have also experienced symptoms such as abdominal pain, shortness of breath, vomiting, dermatitis, and hypotension – among others.

What are Insecticides and Pesticides Used For?

Pesticides are chemicals designed to get rid of insects, infectious bacteria, snails, slugs, and fungi – among others. Meanwhile, insecticides are a type of pesticide that specifically targets insects. 

There are several other types of pesticides on the market today. Here are some of the most common examples:

  • Antimicrobials
  • Algaecides
  • Fungicides
  • Herbicides
  • Rodenticides
  • Wood preservatives

Although pesticides and insecticides are technically made to help improve crop yield, these substances have incredibly damaging effects on the environment.

How Pesticides Affect Human Health and the Environment

Alternatives to Pesticide

Pesticides are used to protect plants and humans from various disease-carrying pests. However, because of their well-documented ability to cause a wide range of negative health and environmental effects, pesticides pose a significant environmental risk factor.

The health and environmental effects of pesticides and insecticides vary depending on the type. Some harm the nervous system. Others may have an effect on the body's hormones or endocrine system. 

Pesticides can also pollute soil, water, and other greenery. Here is how pesticides and insecticides affect human health and the environment: 

Water and Soil Contamination

Pesticides can enter surface water via runoff from pesticide-treated plants and soil. When consumed, it can cause adverse effects on a person or organism.

Various studies indicate pesticides such as Paraquat may cause Parkinson's disease, cancer, and miscarriages. They also act as endocrine disruptors, which can result in congenital malformations in both humans and animals.

Crop and Food Contamination

Around 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied annually to crops that are sold to and consumed by Americans throughout the US. While this does seem like an alarmingly huge amount, authorities would like to reassure consumers of various crops’ safety.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pesticide residues in or on fruits, vegetables, grains, and other foods dramatically decrease as crops are harvested, transported, exposed to light, washed, prepared, and cooked.

Chronic Toxicity

Pesticides can have long-term negative effects on people, usually after repeated or continuous low-level exposure. Prolonged exposure to pesticides and insecticides has been linked to asthma, depression and anxiety, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and cancer, including leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

10 Best Insecticide and Pesticide Alternatives

Pesticides are poisonous and can harm more than just the "pests" that they are designed to kill. To help avoid the negative repercussions of using synthetic insecticides and pesticides, there are several natural alternatives you can try. 

Here’s a list of a few examples: 

1. Creating Physical Barriers

If the goal is to keep pests such as rats and squirrels from entering your garden or plots, placing a physical barrier around the area could be a great insecticide alternative. 

For instance, a fence covered with wire mesh can help keep away small mammals. Meanwhile, several layers of copper tape can ward off snails and slugs interested in munching on crop leaves. 

2. Hand-Pull Unwanted Weeds

Hand pulling weeds is one of the most environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides

Instead of using a synthetic pesticide to get rid of unwanted weeds, hand-pulling them would be a more environmentally friendly option. It doesn’t require any special tools or materials – and it helps prevent soil and water contamination. 

3. Spray Vinegar on Unwanted Plants

Hand-pulling weeds can be time-consuming and tedious for most people. Another alternative you might want to consider is using vinegar to get rid of unwanted plants or weeds.

This is one of the most accessible alternatives to pesticide. Spray 5% vinegar on the plant and it should naturally disappear on its own. 

4. Consider Companion Planting

Companion planting is simply the practice of growing two plants close together for the benefit of one or both of them. For instance, marigolds are a great insect repellant, so you can plant them close to crops that you want insects to stay away from. 

Refer to our comprehensive guide on how to grow, propagate, and care for marigolds

5. Tidy Up Your Yard

Insects love to hide in pots, boards, and other objects. Getting rid of these objects can also significantly reduce the insects inhabiting your yard. 

6. Use Plant Cloth Covers

Cloth covers are great tools to use to keep insects away from your crops while still letting in enough sunlight for your plants. You can get plant cloth covers from your local gardening store.

7. Spread Crushed Eggshells on the Soil

Crushed egg shells as a pesticide alternative

Not only are eggshells great natural fertilizers, they’re also effective in warding off slugs, snails, and caterpillars. Due to their sharp edges, eggshells can serve as a sort of defensive wall around your crops. 

8. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is an all-around home improvement product. It shouldn’t be a surprise that it can be used on plants as well. A baking soda mixture can help keep fungus from affecting your plants. 

All you need to do is mix one tablespoon or baking soda and horticultural oil with four liters of water in a spray bottle. Spray this on your plants as needed. 

9. Introducing New Predators to Your Garden

A large infestation may indicate a lack of predators capable of reducing the insect population in your garden. Introducing new wildlife in the garden is one solution to consider.

For instance, animals such as ladybirds feed on aphids. Meanwhile, birds like wrens, robins, and blackbirds can catch snails and caterpillars.

10. Use Aromatic Herbs to Repel Insects 

Some herbs such as citronella, mint, fennel, catnip, basil, and lemongrass can repel insects and aphids. If you want to reduce your use of synthetic pesticides, this is a great alternative.

Click here to find out more about aphids, how to get rid of them, and more importantly, prevent them from coming back in your garden

Keep Our Environment Safe by Using these Pesticide Alternatives 

Pesticides and insecticides might be beneficial to use in the short term. Unfortunately, its long-term effects are not as promising.

If you wish to know more about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from pesticide poisoning, there are plenty of resources online that can lead you in the right direction. 

Consider these pesticide alternatives we mentioned above and apply them where you see fit.

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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