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Eco-Friendly Pest Control: A Complete Guide

Everything you need to know about green pest management and how it can work for your property

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eco friendly pest control

Have you ever wished you could eliminate pests without using pesticides in your yard, garden, or home?

If you choose eco-friendly pest control, you can!

The field of eco-friendly pest control uses pesticides sparingly (if at all) and takes a holistic and comprehensive approach to pest management.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what sets this style of pest control apart, how it works, and what to look for in a green pest management company.

What is Eco-Friendly Pest Control?

Eco-friendly pest control, also called green pest management, is a style of environmentally responsible pest control that prioritizes low-toxicity products and techniques that protect the environment and the safety of people, pets, and non-target species in a treatment area.

Additionally, eco-friendly pest control assesses and adapts to your needs to ensure the process is a good fit for you, your family, and your property.

Here are a few important features of eco-friendly pest control:

  • Green pest control focuses on offering diagnostics, problem-solving, and education.
  • The field of green pest management isn’t against pesticide use, but when pesticides are used, it’s done in a way that reduces exposure for you, your family, and your pets.
  • Insecticides are selected from a list of products with reduced toxicity and potential for exposure and applied only after the cause of the pest problem has been accurately identified and addressed. 
  • Green pest management solutions focus on long-term prevention. 
  • Green pest management focuses on complementary tactics like monitoring, trapping, pest exclusion, removal of food, water, and habitat, and structural or environmental modification that makes an area less attractive for pests.

Benefits of Eco-Friendly Pest Control

why choose eco friendly pest control

1. Pests are less likely to develop resistance

When you rely on traditional methods like insecticides to remove pests, it can backfire.

Insects like cockroaches, bedbugs, and ants, for example, have adapted to survive, and it’s common for them to develop resistance to pesticides.

When they do, those pesticides cease to be effective, and it gets tough to get rid of the pests.

Because green pest control doesn’t use broad-spectrum pesticides as a one-size-fits-all solution, it’s a more effective way to ensure long-term control.

Plus, pests can’t develop resistance to tactics like trapping and exclusion!

2. Green pest management protects your lawn and garden

Many conventional pest control methods work by wiping out all species in a treatment area, including beneficial pollinators and insects that may actually be controlling other pest populations.

Moreover, many conventional pest removal tactics require several rounds of treatment, which can cause toxins to build up in your soil over time.

Eco-friendly pest control, however, focuses on protecting and enhancing the environment.

By targeting individual pest species, eco-friendly pest removal tactics support the health of your lawn and garden, improving the landscape’s ability to protect itself and keep beneficial populations intact.

3. Safer for pets and humans

If you have pets or kids, you probably worry about the harsh ingredients in conventional pest management products – and for good reason:

Some pesticides can be fatal to pets, and nobody wants to let their kids play near chemicals.

Fortunately, natural options like diatomaceous earth, essential oils, and boric acid are less risky for pets and kids and can help keep your family safer.

4. Less disruptive for your household

Conventional pest management tactics, like “bug bombs,” require everyone to vacate the premises until the toxic fumes have subsided.

Unfortunately, that’s frustrating, inconvenient, and expensive.

However, you don’t have to pack up and leave when you use natural pest control methods.

In most cases, pets and people can re-enter a treatment area after just a few hours – once the treatment area has dried.

Other treatments and tactics, like trapping and exclusion fencing, don’t require any interruption to your daily schedule.

5. More effective over time

While it may seem like harsh chemicals are the way to get fast, long-lasting results, that’s not always true.

Because eco-friendly pest control takes an integrative approach, it’s actually more effective over time than pesticides alone.

This means you get to enjoy a comfortable, pest-free area for years to come.

FTC’s Guidelines on Green Pest Control

green pest control

Green pest management tactics have become more prevalent in recent years. And while this is excellent news for consumers and the environment, it’s not without its complications. 

Some companies make “green” claims that can mislead consumers. And many consumers don’t understand what they’re reading on eco-friendly pest product labels. 

As a result, the Federal Trade Commission has released “Green Guides” designed to help consumers and marketers avoid misleading environmental safety claims.

Here’s a quick overview of what the Guides cover:

  • Compostability claims. The Guides prohibit marketers from claiming that their items are compostable unless they “have competent and reliable scientific evidence that all the materials in the item will break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (e.g., soil-conditioning material, mulch) in a safe and timely manner.”
  • Non-toxic claims. The Guides state that it is deceptive for marketers to imply that their products are non-toxic unless they can “clearly and prominently qualify” the claim. 
  • Recyclable claims. Unless a product can be “collected, separated, or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse or use in manufacturing or assembling another item,” the Guides state that it cannot be labeled as “recyclable.”
  • General environmental benefit claims. If product marketers or manufacturers want to claim that a product benefits the environment, they must be able to “qualify [the claims] to prevent deception about the nature of the environmental benefit being asserted.”

If you have questions about what an eco-friendly claim means, the Guides are a great place to learn more. You can find the entire document here

Disadvantages of Eco-Friendly Pest Control

While there’s been a large cultural shift toward natural and eco-friendly pest management, there are some drawbacks to these approaches, including:

1. Green pest management may be more expensive

Because eco-friendly pest control is more comprehensive, it can be more expensive than conventional methods. There’s also a possible economic impact that comes with abandoning pesticides.

For example, if you have to continuously trap large rodent populations because you’ve opted not to use pesticides, that will be an expensive way to keep your property pest-free. 

2. It may take longer to see results

When you invest in eco-friendly pest control, you’re supporting the ability of the ecosystem to protect itself.

As a result, it may take longer to see results. That said, this field focuses on creating long-term, sustainable solutions, so it’s well worth the wait. 

3. It can be less effective

Sometimes, eco-friendly pest control reduces or controls pest numbers but doesn’t eliminate them altogether. 

Here’s what our Founder, Zachary Smith, has to say on this topic:

“Pests are a reality we cannot escape from, and their control is essential for our health and safety. While the intention to switch to natural methods is noble — it’s essential to understand the bigger picture. Many natural methods of controlling pests are not as effective.”

While we’ve been conditioned by conventional pest management to believe this is a bad thing, we like to reframe this slightly: many pests serve an essential purpose in the environment and can actually be beneficial in low numbers. 

That said, we recommend considering whether you truly need to eliminate every individual or if your pest problems could be solved by controlling populations and limiting pest-caused damage. 

4. Even green products can be dangerous

While people tend to think “green” products are totally risk-free, that’s just not true.

In fact, even natural methods can be dangerous or detrimental when they’re used by inexperienced or unethical people. 

Overapplying natural products or not applying them often enough, for example, can render eco-friendly pest control ineffective. This ultimately leaves homeowners and businesses vulnerable to infestations and pest-borne diseases.

This is most common when pest control providers are lacking education about what products to use and when to use them:

“Just like with pesticides, natural methods can be ineffective when misused. Improper and overuse are common problems with both approaches. The real concern isn’t with the pesticide itself but how it’s applied.” – Zachary Smith

5. Some green pest control tactics aren’t realistic for all properties

While the idea of allowing nature to take its course sounds like an enticing way to control pests, methods like inviting natural predators into a space aren’t practical or even safe in many cases.

After all, predators like coyotes or birds of prey can pose threats to domestic pets and people. 

Instead, we need to take a balanced and integrated approach if we want to harness all the benefits of eco-friendly pest management.

The best green pest control companies use a mix of traditional and natural pest-control methods and back them up with proper training and education. 

It’s important to remember that small amounts of pesticides can be used effectively and safely if they’re applied by knowledgeable, professional companies. 

Common Eco-Friendly Pest Management Products

mother earth bait

Wondering what eco-friendly pest management companies use out in the field? 

Here are six common ingredients and compounds to know about:

1. Microbial Insecticides

Microbial insecticides target specific pests and cause them to get sick, but they don’t harm beneficial insects or mammals. 

One of the most popular microbial insecticides is Bacillus thuringiensis, known as BT for short.

A species of bacteria that occurs naturally in soil, BT kills worm larvae and other pests in a matter of days. 

2. Insecticidal Soaps

Insecticidal soaps use ingredients like salts and fatty acids to target and kill soft-bodied pests like aphids, thrips, mealy bugs, and earwigs. 

The soaps work by breaking down and dehydrating the soft outer shell of pests. 

Like other popular green pest management tools, they’re not toxic to humans and other mammals. 

While you can purchase pre-made insecticidal soaps at home and garden stores, they’re also easy to make from store-bought ingredients like castile soap. 

3. Insecticidal Oils

Insecticidal oils are usually refined petroleum products that work by suffocating pests. 

The oils coat the pest with a dense liquid and cut off their oxygen supply. Insecticidal soaps are a popular green pest control method most commonly used to kill insect eggs and larvae. 

That said, some insecticidal oils can harm plants and trees, so it’s important to use them carefully. 

4. Diatomaceous earth and other inorganics

Diatomaceous earth (DE, for short) is made from fragments of fossilized silica shells. 

It’s classified as an inorganic (a class of natural pesticides mined from earthen deposits and refined for use in pest management), along with boric acid, sodium fluoride, and silica aerogel – more on these in a moment. 

While DE is soft and powdery to the touch, the microscopic particles within it are sharp enough to penetrate the hard exoskeletons of insects, which dehydrates and kills them. 

DE is a popular green pest control method because it’s completely non-toxic to people and mammals (in fact, you can buy it in food-grade varieties) but highly effective against soft-bodied pests like aphids, trips, whiteflies, caterpillars, root maggots, slugs, and snails. 

Other inorganics are also effective pest-control compounds.

Boric acid and sodium fluoride, for example, kill pests by interfering with their cells’ ability to convert energy, while silica aerogel desiccates waxy insect exoskeletons. 

DE and other inorganics tend to be slow to kill pests, but they remain popular because many of them, including boric acid, offer long-term residual protection. 

5. Neem oil

Neem oil is a natural, broad-spectrum insecticide that’s found in the leaves of the Neem tree. 

It’s effective as a poison and repellent. When applied correctly, it sterilizes some insects and slows or stops the growth of others.

6. Botanical Insecticides: Pyrethrin

While there are many botanical insecticides in use today, the most popular is pyrethrin

Pyrethrins contain an active ingredient that’s extracted from the Pyrethrum daisy. 

These products are effective against various pest species and typically kill on contact. 

Most pyrethrin-containing products are broad-spectrum and non-selective, which means they control many sucking or chewing insects. 

While pyrethrin is a natural ingredient, there is a synthetic version known as Pyrethroid, which is another common pest control ingredient. 

How to Select Green Pest Control Services

Wondering how to find the right green pest control service for you?

Follow these steps:

1. Find a local company

Working with a local company is a must when it comes to green pest management.

The reason is simple:

Local companies are more likely to understand the pests in your area. They also tend to be better equipped to treat and remove them.

Plus, working with a local company usually means you’ll receive faster service and quicker responses than you would if you were to work with a large, national pest control chain. 

2. Check reviews and references

Before you hire any pest management company, read their online reviews and references. 

To avoid unnecessary headaches and frustration, find a company with a record of successful pest management practices and happy customers. 

3. Make sure the company is licensed and insured

Before you hire any pest management company, make sure they have the licenses, credentials, and insurance to perform their jobs safely and effectively. 

Certifications from third-party organizations like Green Shield are a good indicator that a company is established and professional. 

4. Review their offerings

Last but not least, ask the company what kind of green pest management services they offer. 

The right company for you should provide the services you need and be willing to work with you to create a bespoke pest management plan that suits your property, priorities, and budget. 

Looking for Green Pest Control? We Can Help

Are you interested in eco-friendly pest control? You’ve come to the right place. 

We work with an extensive network of qualified pest management professionals throughout the US. 

To learn more or connect with a professional in your area, contact us at (844) 532-0076. 

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Author Bio: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is the founder of PestDude.com. Zachary is a licensed pest control professional with 20+ years of hands on experience eradicating pests from homes and businesses. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2002. He specializes in rodent and insect infestation management of structures and landscapes. His passion is to share his extensive knowledge with the world.

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