If you strive to live a greener life, it can be difficult to deal with outdoor pests in a way that serves your needs without crossing your strong ideals. The truth is that even those who live the greenest lives still need to deal with insects, bugs, and other small pests occasionally. If you plan to garden outdoors, or you just want to create a safe environment for your children, understanding how to mix the best of both worlds safely can help you to reach your goals. In this article, you'll learn how to bridge the gap between the need for pest control and the desire to avoid harsh chemicals.

Grow Jumbo Sunflowers to Trap Earwigs

While the old myth of earwigs crawling into your ear isn't true, the little bugs can pack a nasty pinch if they get on your skin. Furthermore, they may also eat live plants if they aren't able to find other insects to eat. In an infestation, this becomes even more likely, so it pays to prevent them from multiplying in a small area.

To keep earwigs away from your house or garden, plant jumbo sunflowers at the opposite edge of your property. Earwigs love to crawl inside the spaces that hold the sunflower seeds, and will often congregate there instead. While they may chew on the sunflowers, at least they won't be chowing down on your garden or skin! 

Use Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) to Shred Your Ant Problem

When the ants go marching on right into your home, it's time to employ a food-safe fix that kills ants before they ever make it to the entrance. This powdery substance is actually made up of tiny, razor-sharp crystals. They're too small to be dangerous to humans or animals, but are large enough to shred an ant's exoskeleton, killing them swiftly.

You can purchase D.E. at any gardening or hardware store--just be sure to ask for the food-grade formula, not pool-grade.

This dusty material should be sprinkled all around the exterior of your home, around your garden, and anywhere else where you don't want ants to go. It's safe for plants, kids, pets, and adults, even if ingested in small amounts. The only caveat is that inhalation can irritate the lungs, so you should always wear a mask while laying it down.

Lock Rats Out Instead of Using Poison

Rat poison used to be the main fix for rats. Unfortunately, research is showing that using poison products isn't just harmful for the rat; it may poison pets and wildlife, too. The problem with dropping poison is that almost anything will eat it--and dogs or cats will eat the dying, poisoned prey. With regard to rats, prevention is far easier than correction.

Start by sealing up any garbage in airtight metal cans. This is crucial, as rats tend to conglomerate wherever there is a food source. Also, remove bird seed or suet or place them on squirrel-proof poles. This will go a long way to dissuading rats from visiting.

Finally, have a pest control specialist, such as Ace Walco & Sons Termite & Pest Control, come out and evaluate your home for the presence of rats in the floor or walls. He or she will also identify holes or areas where pests might be getting in. These must be sealed off correctly, or else rodents will simply chew their way through. Thick steel plating is preferable for pre-chewed holes.

As a final note, sticky traps are not humane and should not be used. If you must kill rats, always use a snap trap to ensure a quick death with little suffering.

"Bee" Patient With Bees

While wasps and hornets often need to be killed, as they can become extremely aggressive, bees are a different story. These vital insects serve a very important role in pollination, and are dying off in record numbers around the world. Scientists estimate that if all bees were to die off, we would instantly lose access to up to 70 of the world's most important food crops

Understanding what you're dealing with is the first step to learning to work with bees. Firstly, if you see a large tree branch or log with thousands of bees collecting in a single spot, this is a swarm and isn't likely to harm you as long as you leave it alone.

Swarms form when the original hive becomes too large; a new queen and several thousand drones will venture forth to find a new home. When they need to rest, they'll group up for warmth and protection on any surface they can find. From there, forager bees head out, a few at a time, to search for the new home.

Most people find that swarming bees are very docile, relaxed, and non-aggressive unless attacked. It's not unusual to see the odd bee in your home if you have a swarm nearby--they are the forager bees, and your home probably looks awfully nice to the bee. It's the equivalent of shopping for a new house, and coming across a mansion!

Warning:Never spray chemical insect killer on a bee swarm, or attack it in any fashion. Such an action just isn't effective for so many insects. In fact, it will most likely trigger a defensive response that results in you being on the receiving end of several hundred stings. Swarming bees have one main job--to protect their queen, hidden in the center of the swarm, at all costs. Even if you aren't allergic, that many stings can sometimes become a medical emergency.

Most swarms move away in a day or two, but if the bees don't leave, continue to avoid the group and contact your local beekeeper's association, a pest control specialist, or the Department of Natural Resources. Never attempt to remove a nest or swarm on your own unless you have been trained to do so safely.

More people than ever are realizing the value of dealing with outdoor pests as humanely and naturally as possible. With a little bit of patience and effort, you can have the peaceful outdoor space you desire without adding harsh chemicals or treatments to the environment. If you have questions about any of the pests listed in this article, or you want assistance with environmentally-friendly removal and management, contact your local pest control specialist for assistance.