Everything is bigger in Texas, from the Tex-Mex cuisine to the mosquitoes and grubs that really bug us! But insects don’t have to be a fact of life in Austin. And you don’t have to use dangerous chemicals to get rid of them. Here are some eco-friendly ways to control outdoor pests in Austin.
Mow the Lawn
Allowing your lawn to grow long between mows can wreak havoc on the yard. Insects (and snakes and other critters) love to hang out underneath long grass that provides shade. Maintaining the lawn will help keep pests away and encourage you to spend more time outdoors.
Fight Pests with Predators
OK, so bats aren’t the cutest looking creatures out there. However, bats eat thousands of insects each night! Building a bat house for the yard is easy with a few pieces of wood. Other natural predators, like ladybugs, will help cut down the aphid and mite population that plague your plants. Order a box of ladybugs for the yard and support your local environment by releasing them to devour the harmful bugs. Parasitic nematodes can help control grubs that attack the roots of your plants. These wormlike creatures are available at home improvement stores and garden centers and easy to add to the soil.
Whatever you do, don’t kill a praying mantis. They take care of the beetles and caterpillars that feed on your plants. You can attract these friendly insects by planting marigolds.
Pick Plants Wisely
Speaking of marigolds, these flowers do double duty in the garden. Their scent repels mosquitoes. Citronella, lavender, and basil also give off a scent that bugs harmful insects. Petunias will discourage tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, and squash bugs. Mint, thyme, and basil are excellent additions to keep in the garden or in containers around the yard and a welcome flavor for cooking.
Check Plants Often
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, it’s easy to forget about the plants that aren’t near the patio or deck. Check your plants regularly (especially the leaves) and look for dark areas where pests could be hiding. Catching an insect infestation when there are only a few bugs is easier than controlling an entire swarm.
If you notice a few aphids or spider mites, try spraying an Insecticidal soap on the leaves once a week. Neem oil works to get rid of squash bugs and potato beetles. Keep in mind, neem oil can also harm bees, so it’s best to spray when they’re less active in the early morning or late at night.
Limit Standing Water
The only thing mosquitoes love better than a bare arm or leg is standing water. Puddles, buckets, birdbaths, and even dips in the yard can create a prime spot for water to collect. Female mosquitoes use standing water to lay their eggs, making for an even bigger problem. If you do have a water feature like a birdbath or pond, add a small pump or air bubbler to agitate the water enough to keep the mosquitoes away.
Spraying a blanket of chemicals over the yard may seem easier, but it isn’t the healthiest option. Consider these eco-friendly ways to control outdoor pests in Austin. Your garden and the planet will thank you.