Insect control is a key element of Integrated Pest Management IPM. It is not easy to avoid using insecticides completely, but careful selection of products and application methods can minimize negative effects. Many organic insecticides are natural extracts, derived from plant material or naturally occurring inorganic compounds such as minerals. They fit within constraints for organic production, and are usually less toxic to people, pets, wildlife, and plants than conventional chemicals. They also break down quickly, have no lasting effect on the environment, and don’t build up in human or animal tissues.
Chemical insecticides can be effective against a broad range of insect control across London pests. However, all pesticides affect the environment and have some risk to human health. Many insecticides are also harmful to natural enemies, and the degree of harm varies depending on how, when, where, and by what method the pesticide is applied. Some chemical classes, such as pyrethroids, organophosphates, carbamates, neonicotinoids, and fungicides, can be particularly damaging to natural enemies of vegetable pests.
Less toxic chemical insecticides include botanical and microbial sprays. Neem extracts, for example, can be effective against many soft-bodied insects including aphids and caterpillars. Some neem-based products are combined with soaps and oils to provide improved coverage, enhanced penetration, and increased residual activity. These soap-and-oil sprays are very low in toxicity to humans and other mammals, and are safe for use around landscape plants. They are also relatively safe for beneficial insects. However, they have limited efficacy against grubs and other beetles, and are not recommended for ground-dwelling pests.
The use of nematodes to kill soil-dwelling insects is another form of biological control. These living organisms are injected into the soil, where they ingest and kill insects as they move through the insect’s body. They are available from several commercial sources. They require proper soil conditions and are best used in the early morning or evening when insects are not active.
Other biopesticides are bacterium and fungal cultures that can be sprayed onto crops to suppress pest populations. They are generally safe for people, pets, and wildlife, but their efficacy is limited by weather, soil conditions, and pest resistance.
The most effective means of controlling pests is to prevent them from entering gardens and yards. Keep doors and windows closed, and repair ripped or missing screens. Use netting to cover vegetables and fruit trees, and plug openings larger than 1/4 inch with caulk or other materials. In the garden, sedge grass and fescue can help deter many pests. Mulching with straw or other organic matter is an excellent way to prevent weeds and maintain a healthy, balanced soil. Finally, use bird feeders to attract and provide food for birds that can eat some pests. This can be a very cost-effective form of insect control. In addition, a good mowing regime, and regular removal of weeds can reduce the need for pesticides. If pesticides must be used, they should be applied sparingly and in a spot-specific manner to prevent damage to natural enemies.