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What is Botanical Pest Control, and Is It Right for Me?

Product Safety
What is Botanical Pest Control, and Is It Right for Me?

What is Botanical Pest Control, and Is It Right for Me?

Botanical pesticides are pest control products (usually liquids, granules, or powders) that are derived from naturally occurring compounds found in plants and/or minerals.  In other words, the active ingredients in these products that kill or repel insects weren’t derived from synthetic chemicals in a laboratory but rather naturally occur in nature itself!

Botanical treatments have been in use for centuries, as natural treatment methods were often the only options available to control insects.  In fact, botanicals were primarily used until just after World War II, when synthetic pesticides were introduced and began to be used outside of the agriculture industry. While these new synthetic pesticides provided immediate results and began to replace their sometimes less effective botanical counterparts, the potential negative impact they had on the environment and on non-target animals (and humans) wasn’t immediately realized.

On the surface, botanical products have a lot of appeal.  After all, who wouldn’t want to use products that are completely naturally derived?  Well, as we’ll see below, there can be some downsides to botanical pest control solutions, and just because they’re natural doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always safe.  In fact, some natural pest control solutions can be more harmful to non-targets (in other words, to plants, insects, or animals that we’re not targeting) than their chemical cousins.

At Remedy, we’ve seen a recent resurgence of interest in natural, botanical, or organic pesticides as consumers seek to find solutions to their pest control problems without the use of laboratory-derived chemicals.  Because of this demand, Remedy introduced a residential botanical service option that relies heavily on natural products to keep pests under control.  Let’s dig in a little more to find out what these solutions are and how effective they can be.

What’s the Active Ingredient in Botanical Pesticides?

There are several botanical active ingredients in use on the market today, but some popular options include:

  • Rosemary Oil (from rosemary plants)
  • Peppermint Oil (from peppermint plants)
  • Neem Oil (found in the seeds of neem trees)
  • Geraniol Oil (derived from geraniums, rose, and lemon plants)
  • Pyrethrins (found in some chrysanthemums)

All of the above active ingredients are naturally derived and can kill or repel a variety of pests. Remedy uses a product called Essentria as the foundation of its botanical service offering.  Not only is this product naturally derived, but it also leaves behind a pleasant, minty-like scent. We also like the fact that there are no water setbacks (meaning we don’t have to worry about how close we spray this product next to bodies of water), no pyrethroid restrictions*, and it is approved for both indoor and outdoor use.

How Often Should Botanical Solutions Be Applied?

The active ingredients in botanical solutions tend to break down rather quickly, thereby reducing their effectiveness on insects (but also reducing their impact on the environment).  Because of this, botanical pesticides must be applied more often than traditional pest control treatments. Instead of a quarterly treatment, the ideal botanical service interval is every month, making botanical solutions inherently more expensive. Remedy botanical customers receive 12 services each year instead of once every 3 months.

What Insects Can Be Treated with Botanical Products?

Collectively, botanical products treat many of the same pests that traditional synthetic products are labeled for, including:

  • Ants
  • Mites
  • Aphids
  • Bed bugs
  • Beetles
  • Boxelder bugs
  • Cockroaches
  • Crickets
  • Flies
  • Fleas
  • Gnats
  • Mealworms
  • Spiders
  • Silverfish
  • Moths
  • Ticks

The Downside of Botanical Pest Control Solutions:

So far, it sounds like botanical solutions are pretty great, right?  Let’s explore some of the disadvantages of naturally derived products before you decide if botanicals are right for you.

  • Botanical solutions are generally not fast-acting. A botanical treatment can take several hours (sometimes days) to start fending off pests. This is probably the biggest reason that customers choose synthetic treatments over botanical options. Many customers want “instant” results, and since botanical treatments primarily work as a repellent, some clients simply can’t (or don’t want to) wait for their pest problems to be addressed.
  • Botanical treatments are more costly than traditional (synthetic) pest control plans.  Because the product degrades more quickly, it must be applied more often, leading to an increase in the cost of labor and materials to maintain an effective pest barrier.
  • Not everybody loves the smell of botanical products.  Some customers find that the scent is too powerful to be used indoors, and this, in turn, could have an impact on the effectiveness of the products.
  • Not every pest can be treated effectively by botanical products.  German cockroaches, for example, may be best controlled using a synthetic pesticide.  Many pests are simply “repelled” instead of “killed” by botanical pesticides, and this may not be the force required for particular pest infestations.

The Final Verdict:

Botanical pest control solutions have a definite appeal to certain consumers who have synthetic pesticide sensitivities or are worried about the environmental impact of traditional pest control solutions.  If you don’t mind spending a little more money (say, 20% to 30% more), you’re not dealing with an active pest infestation, are willing to wait for the solutions to become effective, and have a higher tolerance for the presence of the occasional insect, botanicals might be exactly what you and your family are looking for! Contact us about pest control in Charlotte, NC.

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