Considering Pesticides to Rid Your Florida Backyard of Its Pests? Scooter Says Go Au Natural Instead!
Pests are a commonality in Florida. Wild Birds Unlimited’s very own Northwood Commons backyard habitat isn’t immune to the occasional winged Nosferatu or related creepy crawly, either. We know. We get them all. Cockroaches (any variety), beetles, ants, worms, fruit eating flying bugs and finally, and most detested, the ever-annoying… mosquito – Florida boasts 69 different species of mosquito- High Five, Sunshine State!
We slap them, swat them, chase them and fear them. But, we can’t seem to beat them. That’s because we can’t. Scooter says to stop trying. It’s evolution and they’re going to win, hands down… every time. What we can do, is try and prevent them from wreaking havoc in our yards, homes and lives. But that can cause problems, too. According to the EPA, pesticides can actually cause more damage than they can prevent. Some chemicals have been linked to the deaths of birds right here in Florida. Yup! The next time you grab a can and take an aiming squirt toward an ant hill, Scooter (Vinny has a vested interest, too!) asks that you rethink the chemical option and considering going… Au Natural!
Here are a few simple –natural– steps you can take to ensure your yard is healthy for your family and for Florida’s wild birds:
Clean it up:
While areas maintained for wild, natural growth are encouraged to enhance a backyard wildlife population, if your entire space looks like a Disney setting writhing with furry friends and buzzing insects, you may have gone too far. Keep natural growth down to a minimum as it can attract a bevy of pests like mosquitoes, roaches, ants and furry animals eager to indulge in your wild bird seed. Don’t allow bags of household trash to sit open to the elements. Kitchen trash will most certainly attract raccoons, squirrels and cockroaches especially. Store all household trash in cans with tight fitting lids at all times.
Drain Stagnant Water:
One of Florida’s biggest pet peeves as a state… Stagnant water! It just sits there. Puddled… muddy and swarming with cooties just waiting to grow wings and fly away only to return and start the process all over again. If they can’t breed, they can’t thrive. While Florida’s wild birds need a consistent supply of clean drinking and bathing water, especially during our scorching summer months, water sources can attract insects when not properly maintained. Drain all water sources. Toys, buckets and stagnant ponds should be routinely checked and, if possible, drained after each rainfall. Clean and scrub bird baths weekly to ensure no larvae are present. This is an easy one, folks!
Scooter says, “Go Nekkid!!” Vinny, not so much. No one wants to see a naked pigeon. Sorry, Vin. Did you know that some insects are adverse to certain plant life? Try IPM! Integrated Pest Management. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Department has terrific information on all sorts of plants that serve to guard against Florida’s more pesky critters. WBU Clearwater/Safety Harbor suggests using these beneficial (and beautiful) plants around your back yard habitat to help repel annoying insects, organically: Chrysanthemums, Lavender, Clover and Marigolds. According to the Organic Authority Blog, these five plants can help drive away some of Florida’s most reviled pests such as fleas, Japanese beetles and mosquitoes.
Most pests, fire ants especially, couldn’t care less what we do to them. They see us coming and in some sort of psychic link to every other bug within one square mile, they pick up en masse and move their abodes three feet over, laughing as they carry their luggage and larvae, and writhing bloated queens from one mound to another. It’s aggravating. So, while we can certainly try to avoid them, and we need to, fire ants are especially nasty pests, we can’t necessarily beat them. The best defense is a good offense and that includes just being diligent. Keep lawns trimmed to a good height, clean debris from occupied areas where children are prone to play, remove animal droppings as soon as you can and generally keep up the areas in which you live.
The battle of the beetles, and any other element of nature, doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility and exhaustive guilt-ridden attempts at killing what can’t be killed. We can control the pests that enjoy our same living quarters while still observing a certain amount of respect for our impact on our environments. These easy substitutes to what some consider harsh and even deadly chemicals have been provided by nature to control the influx of what can be annoying backyard guests. Mother Nature knows. She understands. She’s given us the tools to ensure a happy, healthy and safe backyard habitat for all of her critters. So cry havoc and let slip the natural dogs of war! Put down the cans and stinky sprays and pick up the lavender and Capzasin oils! There is hope yet!
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