We’ve all seen the “All Natural” claims for many popular fly spray products on the market today, so does that mean the product is really safe?
I used to think “all natural” meant no toxic chemicals or poisons, but I was wrong. Pyrethrum or Pyrethrin are commonly used ingredients for many “all natural” fly sprays. These ingredients are derived from chrysanthemum flowers so, in essence, the pesticide chemicals are all natural. But that does not make them safe for our horses, us, or our environment.
Don’t be deceived when you see “All Natural” on the bottle. Check the ingredient label. If you see Pyrethrum, Pyrethrin or Pyrethroid (synthetic Pyrethrum) on the list of ingredients, consider the toxicity to your horses, your ground water, beneficial insects and your exposure as well. For a discussion of symptoms of Pyrethrin poisoning in pets, see www.petplace.com .
I AVOID the Pyrethroid family of Chemicals commonly used in fly repellents today and approved as “natural” by the EPA:
Permectrin and DEET are not “natural” but are common chemicals used in repellents. One Essential Oil to AVOID is Pennyroyal
I LOOK FOR:
Tea Tree Oil
Oil of Rose
Also, did you know that most manufacturers do not list all the ingredients on their labels? Most labeling regulations require only “active” ingredients to be disclosed, in order of most-to-least with a percentage (%) amount displayed. A quick scan of the percentages tells you that not everything is disclosed when it adds up to less than 100%.
We as consumers have the right to know what is in everything we purchase so we can make an informed decision.
Resources and Recipes for Non-Toxic Pest Control Compiled with assistance of: Susan Schultz, www.basichsacres.com Missy Wryn, www.naturesbalancecare.com Catherine Bird, www.happyhorses.com.au Elyse Barkin, www.perma-guard.com The National Pesticide Information Center ( www.npic.orst.edu ) provides extensive information about pesticides, including Integrated Pest Management (IPM), “the coordinated use of pest and environmental information with available pest control methods to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.” See also: www.birc.org
• www.cdcg.org – for organic pest control tips and homemade bug sprays
• In 190 ml of rainwater or purified water and 2.5 ml of methylated spirits, add 20 drops of sandalwood, 16 drops of sweet marjoram, and 14 drops of wild rosemary essential oils.
Note: Because essential oils oxidize when combined with each other or with other substances, do not keep this preparation for longer than 3 months.
Aromatherapist Catherine Bird recommends renewing the mixtures every month to maintain potency.
• After pounding these herbs, place bay leaves, pennyroyal, eucalyptus or cloves in a muslin bag and hang it in the barn.
• Crush fresh mint and rub on your horse
• Mix 4 parts glycerin and 1 part eucalyptus and rub on your arms and legs to keep mosquitoes away.
• For tips on combating bugs using everyday household items, check out 1001 All Natural Secrets to a Pest Free Property by Myles Bader, ©2003, 2005. Available at amazon.com or check your local bookstore.
• Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) is a bacterium that controls mosquitoes and black flies in their larval stage. The larvae die after consuming the bacteria and developing a disease specific to them, but harmless to all other forms of wildlife. Bti granular can be broadcast (2.5 to 10 pounds per acre) over pastures, into irrigation ditches, on standing water, and into rain barrels, bird baths, and flower pots, to kill mosquitoes within 24 hours.
• www.mosquitobarrier.com - garlic spray for grassy fields and standing water
• www.mosquitomagnet.com – mechanical CO2 dispenser draws mosquitoes to a trap
• From www.myfineequine.com : An August 2001 article in Scientific American claims CATNIP repels mosquitoes 10 times more effectively than DEET, the active ingredient found in most insect repellents.
• Keep all extra buckets, unused troughs, tires, etc., upside down so as to not catch rain water and create a breeding place for the mosquito.
• Try feeding a garlic supplement to your horses and taking (odorless) garlic supplement yourself.
• Place a few sprigs of rosemary or sage on top of your barbecue coals.
• Plant some bamboo. Dragonflies love to eat mosquitoes and are drawn to bamboo plants. • Natural repellant plants include: basil, citronella grass, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon thyme and tomato plants.
BIRDS THAT EAT BUGS, BUGS THAT EAT BUGS
• Fly predators (Fly Eliminators from www.arbico.com ) are tiny parasitic wasps that you scatter regularly over fly-breeding areas (i.e., the manure pile). These beneficial insects prevent the pest flies from maturing and reproducing.
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (Food-Grade Only!)
• From Safe Solutions, Inc. ( www.safesolutionsinc.com ): “While other insecticide poisons kill chemically as neurotoxins, the insect pests (over time) develop a resistance or an immunity to the chemicals. Food grade DE kills bugs physically and insects have not been known to develop immunity to its physical action. Food-grade DE is certain death upon contact with insects because it kills by actually puncturing the insect’s exoskeleton, disrupting its soft waxy shell structure, and causing death in a short time by dehydration.”
• From Perma-Guard ( www.perma-guard.com , makers of Fossil Shell Flour®): Not all Diatomaceous Earth is the same! While all DE is made up of diatoms, there are fresh water, salt water, food grade and commercial grade diatoms. Insist on FOOD GRADE Fresh Water DE, with a crystalline silica content of less than 3%.
NOTE: If using fly predators, DO NOT incorporate DE into your fly control program! DE will kill the fly predators.
TIPS FROM HH ARCHIVES
Lavender Essential Oil diluted with olive oil will deter deer flies – apply to your horse’s poll area, and yourself, before heading out to ride.
• For alternatives to toxic pesticides (including Dursban, Sevin, Trimec, Round Up, Diazinon) see Pesticide Action Network of North America ( www.panna.org ) and Environmental Working Group ( www.ewg.org )
• Guinea hens help rid your yard of ticks
• Anise oil will repel most bugs, especially houseflies, gnats, mosquitoes. One of the best ways is to add a few drops to your laundry soap. Anise may also be added to commercial bug repellents.
• Brush horses with EO of lemongrass or citronella by placing drops directly onto the brush to help repel flies and mosquitoes.
• Hang bunches of flowering Elecampane (Inula helenium) in your barn. This sticky plant acts as a natural flycatcher. Or try sprigs of Sage, Rosemary or Chamomile. Once the plants are full of flies, immerse them in water to drown the flies.
A few sprigs of rosemary or sage on top of your barbecue coals will help repel bugs during your summertime cookouts.
Peppermint is an acceptable all-natural ingredient in fly sprays, along with citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil, among others.