Many articles address the safety of pest treatments for people and pets, but I can’t seem to find info on effects on resident wildlife. I have a VERY large lizard, toad, bird and frog population that I have been cultivating for 8 years by not using any insecticides, organic or not. Up till now they have been very effective in keeping most insect pests at bay. But I have had an enormous spotted cucumber beetle outbreak this summer and fall ruining my squashes and cucumbers as well as chrysanthemums and fall greens. None of the recommended treatments address residual or secondary effects on reptiles and birds. I feel that a knockdown now will help next summer, but am really hesitant – I love my garden wildlife and think they do a good job under normal conditions, and don’t want to harm them in any way. I plan a major debris clean-up after first frost, but do you have any suggestions to knock back this current population?
In fact most of the products available today are still around and okay to use because they don’t seem to be impacting wildlife in the ways you mention. No doubt your concerns are valid. But there has been vast improvements and changes in what we have to use for insect control and one of the areas these improvements have occurred is in the long term impact treating and spraying around the yard and garden can have compared to what it used to do. Let me explain…
Back when pesticides first became commercially available and were put into production, the active ingredients being used were what we call “first generation”. These actives were “okay” in how they worked but required a lot of material to be applied and at high concentrated levels. This led to them finding their way into water ways and other sensitive areas and since they were being applied at very high concentrations, they were quite persistent in the environment. On top of that, the actives were not looked at to see what type of “long term” impact their use might have.
During the 80’s and 90’s, it became increasingly clear many of these actives that were being used so heavily were having adverse impact on some mammals and reptiles. Careless treatments took their tool and the use of these actives were being noticed and measurable. For this reason, second and third generation products were then designed and brought to production. We’re now in the 4th and 5th generation of actives and the one common thread we see with all these advancements is that these new materials are way less concentrated, less persistent and belong to chemical strings that are very far removed and different from the original designs. The net result is that they no longer impact reptiles or mammals the way they once could – even when mis-applied.
Now does this mean we’ve achieved some kind of “perfect” product? No way. But undoubtedly the chemistry has vastly improved and with it the old danger of impacting non target animals and other wildlife. And though I believe we’ll continue to develop better and better modes of action that have less and less of a negative impact on the world around them, at this time we have some wonderful products available which can no doubt be used without much hazard or risk.
And with that being said, I’m comfortable stating that 99% of the actives we carry are so different from what I used to sell back in the 70’s and 80’s and that one the big benefits of these new designs is that the far reaching impact of treating in the yard is no longer putting at risk the local wildlife in how they will survive or develop. In fact most animals will simply relocate as the local source of food becomes less available. And in your case, if you limit your treatments to the garden area where cucumber beetles tend to thrive and nest, there probably won’t be much of an impact on your local insect population anyway. That means your snakes and lizards will probably continue to hang around; they’ll just stay clear of the areas you treat since they won’t be full of food anymore.
Now to insure you have a “minimum” impact when treating, no doubt you should go with one of the organic or exempt products we list. These products are all in the “low impact” category and for this reason won’t be able to have any kind of long lasting residual action. This is important. Less residual means less product lingering so therefore less “bad” impact. The tradeoff is that you’ll need to spray more frequently but once you reduce or eliminate the target pests, this extra frequency of application required won’t amount to much.
Additionally, the actives in products like ESSENTRIA IC are nothing more than food extracts so even if they did come in contact with local wildlife, it won’t bother them. And that’s what I would recommend you use for this exact reason.
No doubt a good application of the ESSENTRIA GRANULES followed by spraying with the Essentria IC over the top can handle most any insect but it won’t be any kind of a hazard to wildlife, people or pets. And though the organic options might seem less risky to use because they dissipate faster, they still use more traditional “chemicals” for actives which are closer to traditional pesticides compared to the Essentria line.
Now the reason I say this is because we have accumulated data on the actives used in the Essentria line for a much longer time compared to the organic products. And the one thing we know even after all these years is that the actives in Essentria don’t seem to bother wildlife in any way. So with that bit of knowledge, I’d say they’d be your best bet for use around the yard where you’re goal is to spot treat certain insects but not get rid of everything. Hope this helps!
Essentria IC3: http://www.bugspraycart.com/exempt/liquid/eco-excempt-gal
Essentria Granules: http://www.bugspraycart.com/exempt/granule/eco-exempt-org-g-22-lb