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Taking Notes from Plants: The Potential Future of Natural Pest Control

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Mother Nature has a way of taking care of itself. Since the beginning of time, plants have evolved and developed their own natural defenses against pests. In the May 2014 article “Can Plants Help in War on Bugs?” Kat McGowan discusses how plants successfully use their own eco-friendly pest control methods as humans continue to use pesticides in vain. Washington and Oregon pest management experts agree that plants can teach humans an important lesson about smart pest control.

How Plants Defend Against Pests

When an insect starts munching on a leaf, the plant creates its own defensive chemicals to repel it. The plant also releases chemicals into the air to tell nearby insects to stay away. Other plants in the area interpret the plume of chemicals as an alert and begin making their own chemical defenses. It’s like nature’s own social network.

Scientists first discovered that plants could chemically communicate in the early 1980s after studying willow trees. Plants can create thousands of volatile compounds, and a single emission may contain 200 or more different chemicals. The trick is getting plants to release the right chemicals, as the wrong combination could actually attract pests instead of deter them. The right mix of chemicals, however, could attract beneficial insects before the harmful pests can do damage.

Oregon and Washington pest control professionals share that a better understanding of how plants defend themselves and communicate could lead to the creation of crops that identify and defend against pest without the use of harmful chemicals. While some of the modified crops in the U.S. lost their ability communicate chemically, reintroducing genes from crops from other parts of the world could help. Such an endeavor has already been successful in parts of Africa.

Eden Pest uses eco-friendly pest control methods that sometime employ nature to keep bugs at bay, like the use of plants that naturally control garden pests. Contact one of Eden’s experts today to prevent and control infestations today.

[ Photo by: Greencolander, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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