Nowadays you can buy find just about anything in the supermarket with a label marking it “organic.” There are organic fruit and vegetables, organic milk and other dairy products, and even organic pet food.
Now the concept is being applied to other types of consumer goods and services, and for good reason. Organic farm sales exceeded $3.5 billion last year in the U.S. alone.
But what does “organic” mean?
Different regulatory agencies at all levels of government have different official definitions, but the general concept is centered on the idea that man-made chemicals, whether they are pesticides, fertilizers, etc., should not be used during production.
For instance, corn that is grown and marketed with an “organic” label must have been produced without the benefits of genetic seed modification, mass-produced fertilizers like ammonia, or pesticides created in a lab.
The demand for these goods is driven by the idea that organic products are safer to use.
Some chemicals that have been used in the past for various purposes have been found to be harmful to humans and animals, especially in the case of pregnant women and small children.
Some now worry that many of today’s chemicals may also be dangerous. Organic production methods help alleviate that fear.
Today’s pest management companies are looking for ways to minimize the use of man-made chemicals in the home, the lawn and garden, and on the farm. And they’re finding a number of means to effectively do the job of traditional pesticides.
Many of the most popular organic materials used to manage insect populations contain naturally occurring plant oils, especially rosemary, wintergreen, and geraniums.
Other methods include using special bacteria to control mosquitoes, nematodes to manage plant-eating grubs, and diatomaceous earth to combat other types of insects.
Natural predators are also introduced in some cases, such as bats and certain breeds of birds that feed on insects.
In a few instances, a pest management issue may require the use of chemicals, but professionals are developing “low impact” materials like the insect growth regulators Hydroprene and Methoprene, which are proven to have no negative effects on humans.
The National Pest Management Association offers a certification program, called GreenPro, which provides pest management professionals the knowledge and skills to control pests with minimum impact on the environment.
In addition to using organic materials to rid homes of pests, the program stresses the importance of pest management professionals working with homeowners to eliminate entry points for unwanted critters and to establish other practices to deter their presence.
Under the GreenPro program, pest management professionals work with their clients to develop a complete plan for dealing with unwanted insects, rodents, etc.
Considering its past reliance on traditional chemicals, it is only natural to expect pest management to be the next market likely to see a boom in the demand for organic products.