Natural Pest Control, Marking Territory, and Other Country Lore

A Pennsylvania couple who gather toads and praying mantises for natural pest control in their garden and families in Oregon, Maine, and Wisconsin who protect their gardens by "marking territory" with excrement are among the readers who submitted country lore and homesteading tips to this ongoing feature.

| May/June 1979

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Toads and praying mantises gathered from their natural habitat provide an excellent form of natural pest control.


The following housekeeping tips and other bits of country lore were submitted by readers. 

Natural Pest Control

Craig and Deb Purnell  use natural pest control to protect their garden. On a sunny day in early spring—about a month after the first peepers come out—they head out to the honeysuckle patch with the "minnie" pail and gather up a dozen or so praying mantises. Then they unload the spindly insects (along with any garter snakes they find) right smack in the middle of the veggie patch.

Next—on one of those rainy spring nights—the Purnells hop into their four-wheeler and slowly cruise down the road. Every time the jeep headlights "freeze" a roadside toad, Craig and Deb stop and check it out. They load all the three-inch-or-bigger hoppers they find into the trusty minnow holder and lug those critters back to the garden, too.

The Fayetteville, Pennsylvania folks swear the "natural pesticides" are such great garden guardians that their patch raises nothin' but bug-free veggies Just remember not to bring any frogs back from your toad roundups when you try this system. The pond-lovers will die when their wet, smooth skin dries out (toads have bumpy, fairly dry coverings). Don't pick up any little hoppin' critters either,  because the garter snakes'll eat them along with the bugs.

Marking Territory

A praying mantis might be able to handle a mealybug, but perhaps your garden pests are a bit more intimidating critters ... like big deer or hungry groundhogs! If that's the case, take a look at the methods three different MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers use to protect their "territories."

Martin Rowe of Salem, Oregon simply shovels his dog droppings and cat-box contents around the borders of his vegetable patch. Martin's found that any woodland visitor that smells such warning signals will stay away because the critter's more worried about being—than getting—dinner.

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