Organic Pest Control

I planted two varieties of strawberries to see which one would do best here at our new home.  They are both doing equally well.  The Sequoia started blooming at least a month earlier than the Quinault, but now as the Sequoia are starting to give up, the Quinault seem to be coming on strong!  I had no idea this would happen, but it’s wonderful because it will prolong our strawberry season.  However, even though the Sequoias were doing well and started putting on quite a few strawberries in early May, something was eating the fruit just before it became fully ripe!  We couldn’t even taste the strawberries to see if there was a difference between the two varieties!

Well, this can’t happen.  I’m not growing food to feed the forest critters, and we certainly can’t be very self-reliant if an uninvited guest is eating our food before we can.

The nerve!     Well, I never!     Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Judging from the little teeth marks on the half-eaten strawberries, I decided we were dealing with mice.  So, out came the mouse traps and peanut butter!  This method has worked fairly well so far.  One of our first scalloped squash was also half-eaten, I assume by mice, so we have a few traps by the squash as well.

Mouse trap for organic pest control

Good old fashioned mouse traps – they haven’t made a better one yet! Maybe these will keep the mice out of my garden so we can eat some strawberries!

Another pest I was afraid would descimate our garden was our native Banana Slugs.  I could imagine one of these slugs might take out an entire plant in one night.  Not cool!

Banana slug in Sierra Nevada Mountains

This is one of the many banana slugs we have found on our property. We saw it’s silvery trail and found this slug just chillin’. My middle finger is 3-1/4 inches long, so you can see Mr. Slugo is about 4 inches long – and fat! I’m sure he could devastate our vegetable garden overnight!

However, I read somewhere that slugs prefer not to cross copper. Apparently as their little sticky, sluggy tummies come into contact with the copper, it causes a very slight electrical current and the slugs prefer not to cross over it.  Hmmmm….

Copper…

Pennies are made of copper, right?  I had a whole bag of pennies!  So, I decided to try placing a copper ring around all of my new “tender” plants to see if it would keep the slugs away.  The verdict?  It works!  At least I think it must because I haven’t had any slug damage on the plants that have the penny rings around them, yet I have found several slugs within and around my garden!

I wanted to give these sunflower seedlings a fighting chance against our Banana Slugs.  Apparently copper really does work!

I wanted to give these sunflower seedlings a fighting chance against our Banana Slugs. Apparently copper really does work!

The biggest pest problem that I have been dealing with, however, has been the #$@%&#*&  Yellow Jackets.  Yellow Jackets are omnivores, which means they will eat meat (your hamburger, other bugs, or even you) and also sweet things like nectar, honey or your soda!  In the garden, if you are careful when they are around, Yellow Jackets can actually be a good thing!  Being meat eaters, they will eat caterpillars, grasshoppers, and various other insects.  Unfortunately, one of their prey are honey bees!  The Yellow Jacket is a more adept flier and can catch a honeybee in mid flight, and will eat the poor little honeybee’s softer abdomen as she kicks and flails her legs.  Yes, it is really quite gruesome and I have witnessed this several times within a few feet of our new hive.  I decided to go on the defensive against the Yellow Jackets, but what could I use?  To make matters worse, when autumn comes, the Yellow Jackets will begin to smell the honey in the beehive and may attack the bees to get to the honey.  I have read that Yellow Jackets can take out an entire colony of bees and steal all their honey!

I didn’t want to use an insecticide for obvious reasons – I have an organic garden and I also didn’t want to harm the honeybees!  We found some wasp traps at our local box

Redneck Organic Pest Control

This is one of those wasp traps you can buy at your local box store. They work but can be expensive if you need to control the Yellow Jackets through the entire season!

store and they work, but they cost $5.99 each and only work for about two to three weeks, then have to be replaced.  We were over-run with Yellow Jackets (mild winters cause this) and knew we would need to have a fortune’s worth of traps to keep the Yellow Jackets at bay so our honeybees would have a fighting chance.

Then, my sister Machell told me about a method some guy was using and claimed it worked so well he hadn’t seen a Yellow Jacket for weeks.

It was simple.  Fill a shallow tray with water that has a few drops of dish detergent in it to within 1/2 to 1 inch of the top. Then, get a piece of wood that can easily rest across the top of the tray.  Now, either nail a piece of meat to the piece of wood, use twine to tie the meat on, or do what I did and use rubber bands to strap a piece of meat onto the wood.  I used 1/2 a strip of bacon.  Now, turn the wood over so that the meat is on the underside of the wood.  Set out where you have seen a lot of Yellow Jacket activity.

I was nervous that the water would attract honeybees as well as the Yellow Jackets, so I watched the water carefully for the next few hours.  Luckily the Yellow Jackets were interested but the honeybees were not.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It really worked!  Within two days I had a few dozen Yellow Jackets drowned in the water.  This is so much cheaper that buying a lot of traps and I also don’t have to be concerned about having to dispose of the purchased traps with all their plastic!  I found even a small piece of bacon (about 1″ x 1″) will work, but the bigger the piece of meat, the more the trap attracted the Yellow jackets.

Meat Bee Traps

Here is my Redneck Yellow Jacket Trap. Don’t laugh – it works! I think it is actually working better than the ones I bought at the store!  It’s time to clean out again so I can catch some more!

The only disadvantage to this trap is that if it rains, your trap will probably accumulate too much water.  So, if it rains in your neck of the woods very often, it’s best to place this trap under something to keep the rain out.  Also, if you live in a hot, dry area, you will need to ADD water – probably once a day or so.

One more way I have been dealing with the Yellow Jackets is with those hand held, battery run bug zappers.  I’m sure you have seen them.  They look like a tennis racquet, but when you press a button, the metal grid becomes electrified.  It is so satisfying to catch one of those nasty little buggers and hear them fry!  They actually pop and sizzle on the electrified grid.  Obviously I am not Buddhist!  I learned that if I leave one of the fried Yellow Jackets on the metal grid, others come to cannibalize their comrade and I can zap a couple more without having to chase them down!

My forehand hasn’t been better! 🙂

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