Put away the poisons and opt for earth-friendly ways of dealing with animal, insect and plant pests. That’s the clear message coming from the Woodside Town Council, which in March unanimously adopted a resolution urging the town’s businesses to "discontinue the sale of all pesticides" and for residents to "avoid buying and utilizing pesticides and bait products.”
Recognizing the potential harmful health effects of pesticides on children, the elderly, pets and wildlife, the resolution underscores the town’s goal to model and promote a healthier environment.
Woodside is among a number of Peninsula communities that have taken steps to limit or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides.
Back in 2002, Mountain View adopted a policy to reduce or eliminate chemical pesticides, whenever possible, on city property. Similarly, Palo Alto has eliminated the use of most pesticides in city parks and facilities and posts warning notices if chemical agents are utilized. In 2015, Menlo Park reviewed its integrated pest management practices, a strategy that emphasizes environmentally sound ways to control pests, to further reduce use of pesticides on city property. Los Altos changed its policy to ban the use of synthetic pesticides in city parks in 2020. And Portola Valley encouraged residents in 2017 to stop using rodenticide and practice integrated pest control management techniques, such as setting mechanical traps and erecting barn owl boxes for the birds of prey to roost in – owls, hawks and raptors naturally help control populations by eating thousands of rodents each year.
Woodside's anti-pesticide resolution, however, goes much further than the others to eliminate the use of chemical pesticides.
Spearheaded by Woodside’s Environment, Open Space, Conservation & Sustainability Committee, the new resolution states, “the Town of Woodside currently uses pesticide-free solutions on Town properties and … commits to use pesticide-free methods of rodent control on all Town properties.”
Woodside is the 32nd town to adopt such a resolution in California, according to committee chair Alayna Van Dervort.
“We’ve had tremendous support; it’s important that we support our whole ecosystem,” Van Dervort said.
To help residents transition away from chemical pesticides, the committee plans to share poison-free solutions on its Open Space, Conservation & Sustainability Committee website, through the Town’s newsletter The Woodsider and educational flyers and brochures.
One resource that will be available is a list of proposed banned products. They range from insecticides containing chlorpyrifos and naphthalene, to herbicides with atrazine, clopyralid, glyphosate, picloram and triclopyr among others.
Van Dervort said some handouts will be in both English and Spanish to increase outreach into the landscaping community.
Poison-free pest control alternatives
For those interested in using poison-free pest control methods, the committee offered the following tips from Poison Free Malibu, a California nonprofit that provides resources and education for residents statewide:
• For ants, plant mint around a building’s foundation and sprinkle cinnamon, cloves, paprika, bay leaves, garlic, coffee grounds, cucumber or citrus peels to ward them off at points of entry.
• To discourage flies, try planting lavender, nasturtiums, marigolds and basil.
• Removing attractants like fruit and nuts on trees or on the ground can cut down on rat traffic, so can getting rid of ivy. A tip for keeping rats out of parked cars is to place peppermint oil, Irish Spring soap, dryer sheets or red pepper under the hood.
• To combat gophers the website recommends putting castor oil, vanilla-flavored coffee beans, garlic, cat, dog or human hair in their holes to displace them. Apparently, moles also dislike coffee grounds, garlic and castor oil.
• For pest control prevention, only feed pets indoors, otherwise, their dishes might invite unwanted guests. Dry kibble is wisely stored in gnaw-proof metal containers. More common-sense deterrents include keeping garbage and compost bins closed and covered, and ensuring all home vents, cracks and holes are properly sealed.
For more tips on how to repel, exclude and deter pest using non-toxic methods, the committee suggests visiting Poison Free Malibu.