Safe Yard Organics, of Dresden, uses an organic pesticide to control browntail moths and ticks, as well as other pests, like fleas and mosquitoes.
Dresden native David Brown established the business in June 2016. As owner and sole employee, he continues to serve commercial and residential customers from southern to Midcoast Maine. He works from the spring through the fall, when most insects are active.
Brown has been certified as a commercial master applicator by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. He has 20 years of experience in forestry from a previous venture as owner of a Christmas tree farm in Portland.
Brown uses a two-step process to kill pests. First, he evaluates a property to find areas with high potential for ticks and other unwanted species and assess the price for the size of the property. Then, he sprays the area using a 200-gallon high-pressure tank sprayer with a 200-foot hose. The treatment takes an average of an hour and a half to complete.
Many pest treatments use synthetic insecticides and natural insecticides derived from chrysanthemum plants. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, both “may result in urban runoff, potentially exposing aquatic life to harmful levels in water and sediment.” In addition, Cornell University has found both insecticides are toxic to bees.
Brown said his pesticide does not contain these chemicals and complies with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
“The idea behind Safe Yard is the removal of problem insects by use of the most responsible organic techniques available,” he said.
The pesticide Brown uses is made of cedar and peppermint oil, a chemical found in peanuts, and ethyl lactate. The mixture suffocates some insects and creates pinholes in the skeleton of hard-body insects, causing them to dry out and die, Brown said.
None of the substances in the pesticide are toxic, and within a half-hour to an hour, pets and children can go on the lawn.
“I personally am very cautious. Though it is organic, I don’t spray it around flowers or anywhere where I feel there are beneficial insects,” Brown said.
He recommends a second treatment within a month of the initial spraying, because sometimes the ticks hide. He also recommends a treatment in the fall, when ticks lay their eggs.
A treatment costs $150 for the first 10,000 square feet of land and $80 for each additional 10,000 square feet.
For customers who only want the perimeter of their yard sprayed, Brown charges $150 per acre and sprays a swath 10-12 feet wide.
Discounts are offered for two or more neighboring yards.
In addition to spraying, Brown said he inspects tree and lawn health for free, telling property owners if there are unknown insect problems or invasive plants they should be aware of.
Safe Yard Organics is open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call Brown at 333-0681. For more information, go to safeyardorganics.com.