Two weeks ago the City of Dallas issued a state of emergency and began aerial spraying to combat the West Nile Virus. This decision landed Dallas on a good number of headlines across the US and also raised debate amongst many concerned citizens and green activists. It was a tough decision for Dallas to make because aerial spraying for mosquitoes has the possibility of saving lives by controlling the spread of the virus, but at the same time is harmful to humans and our environment.
This brings us to the topic of pesticides. There are benefits to using pesticides, mainly minimizing the number of insects and their effects; however, pesticides are hazardous to our health and the health of our environment.
Pesticides affect our environment and us by contaminating our air, water, soil and plants, and wildlife. Pesticide suspended in the air will drift with the wind and can easily contaminate other areas and increase tropospheric ozone levels. These increased ozone levels can often be seen by the human eye as smog and affects our lungs and respiratory system. In addition, biodiversity in the soil is affected by pesticide contamination and decreases the yield of crops and water retention. Plants that grown in contaminated soil will retain the chemicals which can kill honey bees who act as pollinators. It all becomes a vicious cycle within our ecosystem.
This does not mean we cannot use pesticides. It just means we need to be more aware of the way we use pesticides and where it could end up. There are also some non-toxic ways for us to control pests that are also better for our environment and our health.
Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (Insect Dust): This chalky powder is a registered insecticide that can be used inside or outside the house to reduce and kill small insects. It’s a safe product that can be sprinkled anywhere from your vegetable patch to your pets fur.
Cucumber & Mint Leaves: cucumber peels or mint leaves can be placed at insect entry points to deter or repel bugs. It will not kill them though.
Water + Soap Flakes: The combination of soap flakes (can be from a bar of ivory soap) and water will kill a bug on impact. Soap breaks down the waxy exoskeleton of insects, which will cause them to drown.
Sand Barriers and Nematodes: An effective way to prevent termite invasions. Sand barriers prevent termites from entering and nematodes are microscopic worms that can be pumped into infested areas to kill termites with no affect on our environment.
EcoSMART: Organic Pesticide that is composed of organic plant oils and suitable for indoor or outdoor use.
BEER: placing beer in a shallow plate will attract slugs and drown them.
For more information on the effects of pesticides, eco friendly pesticides, and how to make your own eco-friendly pesticides please visit:
Changing the pesticides you use may seem like something small and insignificant, but keep in mind that it’ll have a positive effect in the long run. So spread the word and keep thinking green!