There is nothing more discouraging than to spend hours in the yard, working to make your plants healthy and hearty, and then waking up to find that bugs are destroying your work. Pesticides may not be an option for people who do not want to be eating produce covered with toxins, or put their pets at risk for poisoning. Here is an option.

There are many ways to kill bugs. Unfortunately, many of them also kill people and pets. Learning ways to destroy damaging insects in your yard, on your plants and in your home without toxins need not be expensive or time consuming. It is unnecessary to hire an “expert” for hundreds of dollars to come in with some product that only costs a few pennies. You can do this yourself, and you will be amazed at how effective and cheap the remedy can be. Will it solve every bug problem? Maybe not. But it will work on a surprising number of bugs.

The smallest bugs often do the most damage. Weevils, mites, white flies, ants, tiny spiders, and many that probably have earned a name and place in the insect encyclopedias. It is not that this remedy cannot kill larger bugs, but since it does not rely on poisons, and is not systemic, it is important that the substance be able to penetrate effectively as the insect walks through it.

Years ago, farmers and others used to use a similar substance to keep insects off their garden plants. This was white flour. Dustings of white flour could keep many insects away from plants, and since we know more about white flour today, it is possible that there was more than one killing action involved. The substance discussed here is talcum powder or cornstarch, the structure of which is similar to flour. 

All very fine powders have a tendency to get into cracks and crevices. This is their beauty, as insects rely on keeping their breathing ports (small holes in their bodies) open and clear. Fine talcum powder or corn starch clog breathing holes and insects suffocate. Have you ever seen birds taking a dust bath? They will get into a fine, dusty area and flutter around in it, in a cloud of dust. This kills mites, which can drive a bird crazy. They know the secret to killing pests. 

Talcum powder and corn starch both have similar actions. Purchasing a few containers of baby powder (often a combination of corn starch and talcum), body powder, or even foot powder will go a long way to debugging your plants, yard and home. The containers they come in are often the semi-soft plastic, which makes for a great applicator. The container can be squeezed quickly to cause a cloud of dust (I call it “poofing”) that will cover small bushes and areas fairly quickly. Using enough to be able to barely see the powder is sufficient. Getting under the leaves is easy with this method, also. Put it around the base of the plants, so crawlers will be killed on the way to their “dinner.” 

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