What Are Pesticides?

“Pesticide” is the general term for any substance designed to eliminate undesired insects, weeds, rodents, fungi, bacteria and other organisms. Pesticides come in many forms and even include house- hold bleach and swimming pool chemicals. Pesticides can be categorized as:

  • Insecticides (for insects)
  • Herbicides (for weeds)
  • Fungicides (for fungus diseases)

Benefits of Pesticide Free

There are many risks associated with pesticide use:

  • Damage to human health, particularly for younger children
  • Damage to non-target plants, pets, beneficial insects and wildlife
  • Pesticides runoff into local waterways, streams and the ocean
  • Contaminates soil and groundwater
  • Even small pesticide use by individuals will add up and have significant impacts to the local environment and beyond
  • Exposure linked to several types of cancer and potential hormone disruption

Manage Pests without Pesticides

Prior to the 1940s, synthetic pesticides did not exist. Preventative, biological, physical, behavioral and chemical controls were used to reduce pests. Use the below tips to mange pests in an environmentally sound way, without pesticides.

Healthy Lawn and Garden

Start with a healthy lawn and garden to reduce pests and save time and money maintenance. Healthy soil with organic matter and proper drainage is a vital foundation to encourage plant growth and reduce damage from pests and weeds.

For a healthy lawn, follow these five tips:

  • Mow on a high setting
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn
  • Water wisely - only 1" (2.5 cm) per week
  • Aerate and de-thatch as needed
  • Top-dress with compost annually

For more information on these and more lawn care tips.

Use Manual Efforts

Be informed about the pest. Remove places where pests may lurk such as debris or piles of wood. Reduce weed growth which may attract pests by weeding and applying mulch between plants. Garden with pest-resistant native plants that have evolved alongside native insects and provide habitat for wildlife.

Remove insects by brushing them away, putting out traps (for slugs), creating prickly barrier using crushed eggshells or oyster shells, crushing by hand, or using a forceful spray of water.

Avoid overhead sprinkling in the evening, a major cause of mildew on sensitive plants.

Companion Planting

Place certain plants side by side to protection them from weeds and pests. For example:

  • Plant carrots, radishes and cucumbers near lettuce to protect it from bugs
  • Plant marigolds throughout the garden to repel many insects
  • Use aromatic plants such as chives, dill and mint to attract pollinators and ward off pests

Learn more about companion planting.

Attract Beneficial Insects and Wildlife

Many insects are not bad and actually help your garden including pollinate plants, decompose waste material and prey on undesired pests. Managing pests without pesticides, keeps beneficial insects and wildlife in your yard like spiders, honeybees, ladybugs, frogs, snakes and bats. For example:

  • Attract ladybugs, a natural aphid predator.
  • Garden with native plants which have evolved alongside native insects and wildlife that eat pests.
  • Install bird nesting boxes and bat houses to attract local birds and bats.
  • Plant sweet alyssum around the border of aphid ridden garden, such as roses, to attract aphid predators and parasites.

Natural Controls

Try these natural alternatives to synthetic pesticides:

  • Use soap to wash leaves and eliminate pests and diseases.
  • Make a natural fungicide (one tablespoon each of baking soda and horticultural oil diluted in four litres of water and sprayed on the leaves) to eliminate fungal diseases on plants such as black spot (rose bushes), blight (tomato plants), mildew and rust.

Pesticide Disposal

Pesticides are household hazardous waste and must be properly disposed of. If added to the garbage or flushed, these chemicals can harm septic systems and our watershed. Drop off leftover pesticides at no charge at the following depots:

Hartland Landfill
Hartland Avenue, West Saanich
Tel: 250.727.3331
Monday - Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 7am-2pm
Ellice Recycling
524 David Street
Tel: 250.386.4342
Monday - Friday 7:30am - 5pm
Saturday 8:30am - 5pm
Salt Spring Island Recycling Depot
349 Rainbow Road
Tel: 250.537.1200
Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
Alpine Recycling
1045 Dunford Avenue
Tel: 250.474.5145
Monday - Saturday 8am - 4:30pm