Alice, Cats, Insects, Mice & Rats, Pest Control, Slugs & Snails, Spiders

There’s no doubt about it: pests can be the bane of a gardener’s life. There’s nothing worse than growing the perfect crop of tomato plants, only to have them demolished by slugs and insects. Chemical pesticides can be highly effective at deterring and removing unwanted critters, however, these can be detrimental to the environment, and other beneficial wildlife. So here are some great eco-friendly pest control methods that can be equally effective.

eco-friendly pest control

Netting & Cloches

Pigeons, along with many species of insects, enjoy eating flowers and vegetable plants. Protective netting is a great way of keeping your plants safe and sound, however, there needs to be space between the net and the plant, otherwise, birds may land on the net and peck through it if they can. You can support your netting with bamboo canes or upturned pots, however, cloches and grow tunnels provide a ready-made safety system. This set of 3 Victorian Glass Bell Jar Cloches are a stylish way to protect growing plants.

Companion Planting

Companion planting involves growing your plants alongside other species that will disguise the vulnerable plants, or attract predatory insects that feed on pests. This is a great method of eco-friendly pest control, as it is harm-free, increases the biodiversity of your garden, and can also have other benefits such as improving taste and yields. Good companion plants for repelling unwanted insects include dill, fennel, allium, basil, coriander, and marigolds. Check out our full guide to companion planting here

Natural Sprays

Sprays have long been used to deter bugs from plants, however, there are plenty of eco-friendly natural alternatives to chemical pesticides. Spraying plants with water or a light soap solution can remove aphids, caterpillars, or similar insects from plants, and creating a herbal water spray from essential oils such as sage, thyme, basil, or rosemary can act as a repellent. You could also spray with a pepper or alcohol solution to deter pests.

Natural Predation 

Your garden can be a great place to support species of animal that are declining in the wild, and many of these creatures have the added benefit of ridding your garden of unwanted pests. Animals such as birds, hedgehogs, ladybirds, frogs, and lacewings are great at limiting numbers of common garden pests such as slugs and aphids. To encourage these critters into your garden, make them welcome by adding homes such as bird nest boxes, hedgehog houses, and ladybird towers. You can also add bird feeders, birdbaths, and leave out bowls of food and water for wild animals.

Organic Deterrents

Many organic substances are great for deterring unwanted pests, and are completely environmentally friendly! Many plant oils can be used as an insect deterrent, along with garlic- you can stick a clove next to your plants to drive unwanted pests away. Slugs do not like the sharp edges of eggshells, so surrounding plants with them can keep them safe from these pesky critters. Beer traps are also a common method of slug protection.

Ultrasonic Repellers

Ultrasonic repellers are a high-tech humane way of deterring a wide range of unwanted pests from your garden. These handy devices emit high-pitched noises that are beyond the range of human hearing but scare away other creatures. They can be used to keep larger creatures such as foxes, deer, and cats out of your garden, but can also be used in your house to deter pests such as spiders and mice. The Advanced Solar Mole Repeller emits low-frequency vibrations into the soil to deter moles from digging up your lawn, and the Advanced Rat and Mouse Repeller combine ultrasonic frequencies with electro-magnetic technology to keep your whole house free of rodents.

What eco-friendly pest control methods are you using? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

 

Animals, Megan, Mice & Rats, Organic, Pest Control

Rats are considered vermin by the majority of people, so it’s no wonder they are one of the most hated of garden pests. This is mostly down to their ability to spread potentially disease – and those creepy long tails.

As rats are nocturnal, you are unlikely to see them in the day. If a rat has taken shelter in your garden, however, there are some tell-tale signs you may discover:

  • Runs and tunnels against garden walls and fences
  • Rat droppings
  • Gnawed wood

To find out how to deter rats naturally from your garden, read on.

How to Deter Rats Naturally

Why Go Natural?

The most common way to get rid of rats from gardens is the use of rat poison and traps.

Rat poison is toxic and may pose danger to wildlife, pets and humans. High levels of rat poison have been found in wildlife higher up the food chain, including red kites which are near threatened species. 

Additionally, neither traps or poisons are sustainable ways to deter rats from your garden. Both merely get rid of them. If you want a sustainable and natural way to deter rats, prevention is the best answer to deter rats naturally.

Remove Food Sources

Rats are attracted to gardens because they  contain bountiful food sources. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure your garden doesn’t become, or stops being, so attractive to rats.

Compost bins are a treasure trove to rats. Ensure your compost bin is secure (invest in an above-ground compost bin with a lid) and move it away from possible routes of access, such as fences and walls. You can find out more about pest-proofing your compost bin here.

If you love feeding the birds, there’s a good chance rats may be getting into your bird see and nuts. A squirrel-proof bird feeder will block off rats, and using no-mess seed mix will ensure there is no discarded food left on the floor that may attract rats.

Ensure you collect fallen fruit from your fruit trees soon after it falls, otherwise rats may start to feast on your harvest. Store them somewhere secure where rats will not be able to access them.

How to Deter Rats Naturally

Block Off Potential Shelter

Rats make home under existing structures, such as garden buildings and decking. To prevent this, block entry to areas beneath these – no matter how narrow the space. Before you do this, ensure there are no rats living underneath the structure you are blocking off, as they will die an unpleasant death.

Have a general clear up in your garden, getting rid of any debris and cutting back overgrown vegetation. This will provide rats with less cover. Keep your grass short. You can also take this opportunity to move things around in your garden. Rats are neo-phobic, and this disruption of their territory will confuse them and encourage them to make home elsewhere.

How to Deter Rats Naturally

Natural Deterrents

Essential Oils

Rats have one of the best senses of smell in the animal kingdom, trumping that of dogs.When used in concentration, essential oils can do wonders in deterring rats from your garden due to their potency.

Peppermint oil, citronella and eucalyptus essential oils in their pure form are all smells that rats will dislike. A few drops of these oils in their pure form around the areas you know the rats have been should do the trick. Alternatively, soak cotton wool in essential oil and place in rat traffic areas.

How to Deter Rats Naturally

Hot Pepper

Similarly to essential oils, rats high sense of smells means they can’t stand hot pepper or anything very spicy. To make homemade natural rat repellent spray:

  1. Mix cayenne pepper or chilli flakes with water
  2. Heat the mixture vigorously to infuse the chilli
  3. Allow to cool – the longer you leave it, the more potent the chilli will be
  4. If you used chilli flakes, sieve them out
  5. Add a little castille soap (which is biodegradable)
  6. Pour into a spray bottle
  7. Apply liberally to areas where their is evidence of rats

This spray also deters other pests, such as squirrels and rabbits.

How to Deter Rats Naturally

There are many different ways to deter rats from your garden without resorting to toxic rat poison or inhumane rat traps. If you try any of these methods, let us know in the comments!

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Composting, George, How To, Mice & Rats, Pest Advice, Pest Control

Composting is a great way to reduce the waste you send to landfill and produce organic fertiliser for your plants. One of the biggest concerns around having a compost bin in the garden is whether it might attract pests or vermin. The short answer is yes, it can. But that’s why we’ve gathered advice to ensure you can build a pest-proof compost bin and enjoy all its benefits without the pain.

pest proof compost

Why are pests attracted to compost bins?

The most likely pests to seek out you compost are rats and mice. They are a common part of a residential ecosystem and look for two things: food and shelter. This is why rodents are particularly attracted to compost heaps, especially in winter. It provides them with food and a warm, sheltered spot to sleep in.

Insects, however, are generally nothing to worry about in compost heaps. Worms, slugs, millipedes, spiders, beetles and more are regular guests. They are a crucial part of the decomposition process, so embrace the bugs!

slug compost

Tips for deterring pests

  1. Avoid putting any meat or dairy products in your compost, including fatty oils or bones. This would smell like a feast to rats.
  2. Over autumn and winter keep your compost bin damp – this will help with the decomposition process and make it less attractive to rodents.
  3. They also don’t like disturbance, so be sure to turn your compost regularly or give the bin a kick when you walk past!
  4. Cover food scraps with dry leaves or soil in the bin to conceal the smell of decaying food.
  5. Rodents are reportedly put off by the aroma of mint, so try sprinkling peppermint oil on your compost or planting mint nearby.

mouse in garden

How to protect your compost bin

It’s very hard to completely protect a compost bin against vermin as mice can squeeze through holes as small as a penny, and rats can chew through almost anything. Compost bins are much easier to seal against invading pests than open heaps, so if you’re worried about rodents then they’re the better choice. Surrounding your bin with rocks and bricks can make it a bit more fortified.

If you have a plastic bin, this is easiest to seal. The best time is before you start using it as you’ll need to line the bottom with wire mesh. Ensure the holes are only small enough for bugs to get through, not burrowing mice.

If you have a wooden bin, again you’ll need to line the bottom and sides with wire mesh. Make sure this is sealed firmly round all the edges with no gaps.

compost

Last resorts

Hopefully these tips will make your compost bin as unattractive to pests as possible. While the best defense is prevention, if you’re still experiencing issues then it might be time to look into pest control, such as traps.

Happy composting!

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

How To, Jorge, Mice & Rats, Pest Advice, Pest Control

how to get rid of rats

To get rid of mice & rats, it is important remove attractions such as unsecured rubbish and tidy your garden as to remove shelter. Then there is the decision about whether to use clinical or humane solutions, whether it be traps & poisons or ultrasonic devices. Primrose recommends ultrasonic deterrents as the lasting solution to your rodent problem, which acts as a permanent deterrent and allows you to avoid touching diseased carcesses.

Remove the Attractions

Key to keeping your home and garden pest free is to keep it tidy and free of rubbish. You can exterminate the existing rodents, but more will return if there is a source of food or shelter.

Rubbish should be kept in a secure bin, with the lid closed. Food shouldn’t be left out for other animals. Bird feed should be put up in specialised containers, and never on the ground. Similarly, tidying around the bottom of a fruit tree is worthwhile.

Remove the Habitat

Overgrown gardens provide a source of shelter in which many pests thrive. It is worth checking for holes that rodents will use as a nest.

Secure Your House

Rodents are both adept climbers and extremely nimble, able to enter through small cracks from the foundation to the attic. Hence, it is worth checking your brickwork as well as going into the loft.

Ultrasonic Deterrents

Ultrasonic devices are the most effective method to rid your house of rodents. Unlike traps and poisons, which only make room for new rodents, and at worst can act as a draw for new pests, ultrasonic devices function as a permanent deterrent. They also allow you to forgo learning about the different types of rodents and avoid handling dead, diseased carcasses.

Ultrasonic devices work by emitting ultrasound, which is inaudible to humans, but disconterting to rodents, who use such frequencies to listen for predators. The ultrasound causes them to leave the area, and is henceforth completely humane. Primrose has sold tens of thousands of units, with our best-selling model receiving nearly 2000 reviews, with a return rate of less than 2%. We also stock a battery operated model, perfect for lofts and outbuildings, which has an average rating of 4.2 from over 400 reviews.

Unlike with traps and poisons, it is best to install a device before sealing your house, leaving a space for the rodents to escape.

Rodent Types

If you are to use traps or poisons, learning about the different types of rodents can be useful.

Two species of rat are likely to enter your home, the black rat and brown rat (norwegian, cellar rat). The former is significantly smaller and more agile, and will infest the upper levels of buildings. The latter, by contrast, is much more likely to stick to the lower levels. With mice, the species most likely to enter your house is the adaptly named house mouse, which is even more agile than the brown rat.

Rattus rattus is the scientific name for the black rat, and Rattus norvegicus for the brown rat. Picture credit: Sponk licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The different types can be identified by their droppings with the brown rat’s between 1.5-2cm, the black rat’s up to 1.5cm and mice less than 0.75cm. As mice are significantly lighter than rats, you are unlikely to hear them scurrying.

All rodents can survive on a poxy amount of calories, but mice can survive without water and will multiply quickly, producing up to 8 litters a year with a gestation period of 30 days. It is for these reasons that you can’t afford to wait, but have to act quickly.

Traps & Poisons

Unlike ultrasonic deterrents, it is important to seal your house before using traps and poisons, which can act as an attractant.

There are three types of traps: snap, electric and glue. Snap and electric traps are the most humane and usually kill instantly. Glue traps are extremely effective due to the attractants. Traps have an advantage over poisons in that carcasses can be found in the vicinity of the trap, while poisoned rodents can be hard to find.

Poisons have an advantage in that they can be used in communal areas, provided they are secured in bait stations, safe from pets and children. You should use different active ingredients for different situations. Alphachloralose is a must for mice, while for rats both difenacoum and brodifacoum can be used, although the latter shouldn’t be used in areas with non-target species.

For more information on poisons, please read our blog post here.

Rodents are initially wary of new introductions, so traps and poisons take time to take effect. Rodent tracker dust can be used to identify where rodents are coming from, which helps with the placement of traps.

Be sure to use gloves when handling dead rodents and use rodent carcass disposal bags.

Natural Deterrents

Cats will hunt rodents, and the specially bred terrier, can be set on them.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.