Biological Controls of Insects Pests

Of the many alternatives to synthetic chemical insecticides, biological controls are arguably the best for the environment. Introduction of natural predators of common pests can help to restore ecological balance, and provides a relatively risk free way to deal with your pest problem.

Birds and Bats – Natural Insect Predators

Birds and bats are two common controls for pest populations, like mosquitoes. Insectivorous bats and birds offer a double whammy in pest management, because they often act as pollinators just as bees and butterflies do.

Common birds used as biological controls for mosquitoes and flying insects are various types of swallows and purple martins. They can be attracted to the home by providing a risk free habitat and nesting site.

Many people create both bird and bat houses on their property to achieve this goal. In the case of bats particularly, making use of these practices can help to make up for lost habitat and population declines.

Bat houses should sit high above the ground, get plenty of sun for warmth, and be built close to a water source such as a lake, stream, or home pond.

National Wildlife Federation Web Producer, Carla Brown, built her own bat house using the Small Economy Bat House Plan from Bat Conservation International’s website, and you can too!

Building a Bat House

Microbial Insecticides (Neem Attack, Mosquito Dunks, etc.)

When problems with pest insects really get out of hand, a broad spectrum, synthetic chemical application is not usually necessary. Identification of the pest at hand, and what type of damage it may cause is always the first step, and then, a variety of microbial insecticides may be of use. Most microbial insecticides are very pest specific, and do not pose much of a threat to humans, pests, and non-target insects. Careful when using them on grubs and caterpillars though, those little bugs may be slated to morph into a harmless, pollinating moth or butterfly!

Bacteria of the Bacillus variety are some of the most common microbial insecticides, and most are quite safe. Different species and strains can target different insect pests. Common targets include mosquito and blackfly larvae, Japanese beetle grubs, and various grub and caterpillar species.
Some useful information that can get you on your way to identifying and purchasing the best Bacillus strain for your needs, can be found in  Microbial Insecticides, Published by R. Weinzierl, T. Henn, P. G. Koehler and C. L. Tucker at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The full fact sheet is available here.

Nematodes

Nematodes are roundworms that are hosts to bacteria, and can parasite pest insects in the soil and in some cases on leaves and plants. They are particularly useful in home lawn management and in gardens.

The Cornell University Department of Entomology offers a great resource through their biological control webpage, on different varieties of nematodes, insect pests they can help to control, and various commercial products and distributors of nematodes.
http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/pathogens/nematodes.html

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One response to this post.

  1. […] « Biological Controls of Insects Pests Home Remedies for Insecticides and Herbicides […]

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