The environmentally-oriented gardener can enjoy not only red, orange, yellow and blue flowers, but also red, orange, yellow and blue birds.” … Roger Tory Peterson

Many think a mild winter means we’ll be overcome by insects the following summer. I like to think this means the birds in my garden will be well fed. Unfortunately, it also means many people and farmers will brandish chemicals to annihilate the problem, often without even differentiating pest control types, this can be very damaging to ecosystems that people are possibly not even intending to destroy.

Birds have played a major role in creating awareness of the problems with chemicals. The impact of DDT was first noted in the 1950’s when spraying led to a die-off of American Robins.

U.S. homeowners use up to eight times as many chemical pesticides per acre as the typical farmer, according to the Wall Street Journal. In fact, with the rising trend in organic food there has been innovations with organic insecticides as well, which can have less impact on bird species and many farmers are utilizing this. Therefore in some cases, U.S. homeowners are using more than 8 times the chemical pesticide. Two of the most potent are Diazinon, an insecticide, and 2,4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), the most widely used weed-killer in the world. Both are known to kill songbirds, waterfowl and squirrels. Yellow cabinets may need to be used for the storage of such strong chemical pesticides. Direct exposure to these chemicals may cause a number of health problems for the human body as well. No wonder that the use of strong chemical pesticides is being discouraged more and more nowadays. The food we eat is often laced with these chemicals, which can be very harmful in the long term. More and more natural alternatives are being sought to keep plants healthy while also avoiding harm to the environment and in turn, ourselves.

It goes without saying that care should be taken with chlorinated hydrocarbons, from how they are stored (see Storemasta for good examples) to how they are used. These hard chemical” pesticides are indiscriminate killers, ridding an area of good insects along with bad ones.
If you must spray, use products with less harmful plant extracts like pyrethrin or nicotine.

Yet a better solution may be to encourage insect-eaters, like swallows and bats, to visit your yard. You can relax and watch them take care of your pest “problemâ naturally.