Monday, April 18, 2011

Natural ways to get rid of ants

Ants, a small animal, prove to be beneficial to the gardener by feeding on destructive garden pests such as caterpillars, spiders and small insects. But, some species of ants like black garden ants live together with the aphids (for their honeydew). In such a case, ants are inviting a notorious pest in the garden.  Here are several natural ways to get rid of the insects in your garden.

1. Try a vinegar spray. 
Mix three parts vinegar with one part warm water, and spray around the perimeter of the garden. If you know where the ant hill is, you can spray the mound directly.

 2. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper in your garden around your plants.
Ants won't cross it, and it doesn’t cause any harm to you plants.

 3. Ants hate any type of strong odor.
The pungent aromatic scent of mint leaves acts a natural pesticide for the ants. So, do not delay in planting mint in your garden so as to get rid of the troublesome ants. The permanent solution for garden ants is to grow and maintain mint plants throughout the year. 

 4. Shake out a line of baby powder around the garden.
For some reason, ants don't seem to like the smell, and won't go near any part of the garden that has a baby powder smell.

5. Find the ant hill, and pour corn meal on top of it.
Ants will eat the corn meal, but they can't digest it, so they will die. If you hate the idea of killing ants, put a jar of honey in a tree near your garden. The ants will relocate so they can be near the honey, and it will keep them.

6. Use Citrus Peelings 
Collect citrus peelings (orange, lemon, etc.) and ground them by using adequate amount of water. Remove the liquid concoction and spray it over the ant mound. This method is an effective natural remedy for getting rid of carpenter ants and other garden ants.

I don’t recommend the ways with boil water and boric acid because the boil water is too cruel to ants.  Imagine how you would feel if your body was burn by hot water.  Meanwhile, boric acid is chemical, I also am unsure about its side affect to the soil, plant even or my health.   

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another harmful part of cactus

I got the interesting question about the poisonous cactus.  After asking my friends who are the cacti great collector and searching the information., I found that beyond the sharp thorn, other harmful main part of cactus is sticky milk sap but not all cacti have the toxic sap.  Just only some of them have such sap.  Here is the list of cactus which has the harmful latex:

The desert rose (Adenium obesum) is a member of the dogbane family. Like many of its relatives, the  desert rose can exude a milky acrid sap when the stems or leaves are broken. This sap has cardioactive ingredients that can be dangerous if taken internally. Ingestion can cause abdominal pain and vomiting.

Some of the euphorbias or spurge species yield a milky latex. This can cause dermatitis in susceptible individuals. Avoid getting this in your eyes or bare skin, particularly if you have open sores or wounds. All parts of the euphorbias could be potentially poisonous if consumed. If swallowed, this can cause lesions of the mouth. Ingestion of the juice can also act as a purgative. In addition, gastrointestinal symptoms can occur.

Pachypodium is another member of the dogbane family. These often have a caudex. Bearing resemblance to a columnar cactus, this has thorns up and down the length of the stems. These thorns are modified stipules. They can be injurious, so be careful. Like the other dogbane relatives, this plant yields a poisonous sap.

Agaves, including the century plant and maguey, contains an irritating latex or sap. This can cause dermatitis in susceptible individuals.

Crassula argentea
Christmas candle is also known as candelilla. This is a species of pedilanthus. It is related to the euphorbias or spurges. All parts of the plant have a toxic white sap. Avoid getting this on your skin. It can cause severe dermatitis in susceptible individuals. If taken internally, it can bring on various gastrointestinal symptoms. These include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and nausea.

The baby jade (Crassula argentea) also has a burning, irritating sap. This comes from the leaves and all other parts of the plant. This latex can cause dermatitis.

Meanwhile, many of the Opuntia cacti have glochids (small hair-like spines) that can hurt someone who is unaware. It can make skin irritation.  (And really it’s difficult to get rid of the small spine from the skin.  I had every that experience before.)  The bunny-ear Opuntia is particularly deceptive because it looks so cute and touchable.  But the spine of some Mammillaria is OK.  Its spine is so soft like the teddy bear (Personally, I like to touch it when I feel upset.) 
my favorite mammillaria

So when working with these plants, especially if your hands have wound, protect them and arms with heavy, long sleeved clothing and gardening gloves.  If you are injured, seek medical attention. Watch the injured spot carefully for signs of infection.