Are organic pesticides worth the additional cost? (YES!)

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19 November 2012
Lawn Care
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Last week I wrote about Autumn being the single most important time of year to spray for ticks. In that blog I promised I’d address this week what the difference is between traditional (laboratory created) chemical pesticides versus organic.
Most people buy milk and I’m going to use that as my baseline. One gallon of Horizon Organic Whole milk this week at Target is selling for $6.79. One gallon of Market Pantry (Target’s brand) Whole Milk-not organic-is selling for $2.49. Mathematically that is a difference of 2.72 times higher for the organic milk than traditional milk. I’m not a diary expert nor do I claim to be one, but I wanted to begin this blog by showing something as simple as milk has a value of 272% more than traditional milk.

Why organic pesticides-tick sprays in particular-over traditional sprays?

The technical material which has been available to all pesticide applicators for the past decade for residential tick sprays is called a Bifrenthrin-a pyrethroid insecticide. This is what commercial applicators and companies have used to kill ticks on your property the non-organic way for over a decade, and this is certainly one way. Is it effective and does it do the job? Absolutely! Is it cost effective? Absolutely! What else does it do though? It leaves an unpleasant odor, causes you and your pets to stay off your lawn for 24 hours (hence the little yellow lawn signs when the applicator leaves) and leaves no where for Fido to “go” or the kids to play. Bifenthrin is highly toxic to fish and small aquatic organisms. It’s also very highly toxic to bees.

And what about what it can do to Fido? According to the National Pesticide Institute “Exposed pets may experience single-episode vomiting or diarrhea, reduced activity, twitching of the ear, paw flicking and increased drooling. Other signs can include hyperactivity followed by incoordination with diarrhea, depression, and dilated pupils. Some veterinarians have reported additional signs such as chewing, head bobbing, partial paralysis, and tremors.” It’s no wonder that people with dogs and roaming pets likes horses demand organic sprays.

Bifenthrin uses insecticides to kill. Further, with only 10 years of laboratory results on file, how do we know that it isn’t affecting people long term? What guarantee is there in 15 years that we won’t find out that memories and health of human hasn’t been compromised? There is none. The U.S. EPA classifies Bifenthrin as a possible human carcinogen.

If you’re not hiring a commercial applicator for your tick problem (and if you live in Connecticut you do have one) then you are hitting the big box stores to buy Sevin. Sevin is a carbonate class of pesticides; in lay mans terms it is toxic to humans, pets and bugs. It is cheap and widely used to control insects in and around the home. Cats are the household pet most sensitive to Sevin followed by dogs when tested by the EPA.

Conversely, organic alternatives are available but cost often deters people. The difference on a one acre property industry wide on a spray is about $100. That is less than 40% increase whereas milk sees a 272% increase. Organic spray leaves a pleasant cedar smell, has no harmful residue that stick to your pets and family and the yard can be used immediately.
The average one acre lot will use 100 gallon of material whether it is organic or traditional. Given the choice of spraying 100 gallons of organic material versus 100 gallon of traditional technical material-what do you choose? And what is your doctor and nutritionist choosing? Where do the majority of customers who contact organic IPM businesses come from? The referrals come in from doctors, mothers groups for autistic children, veterinarians and educated homeowners who are health and environmentally conscious.

Why commercial sprayer instead of a backpack sprayer for the tick applcaition?

Backpack sprayers hold 5 gallons only and rely on a more concentrated amount therefore the greater the chances of coming into contact with a concentrated pesticide. Backpacks also do not offer the volume or pressure required to disrupt and penetrate heavy leaf litter and under shrubs where ticks hide. Ticks prefer shade and moist areas, 30 feet into the woods is where a commercial sprayer can penetrate. This is what is creating the buffer between you and the ticks. Commercial applicators are mixing between 100 to 1000 gallons of material at a time, under supervised and licensed conditions.

Cost is always a factor when deciding on home services but always shop apples to apples. This puts the myths to bed about the cost of organic sprays and gives you food for thought about what you allow yourself, your children and your pets to come into contact with.

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