Organic Pest Control
Pests. It’s summer and they’re out wreaking havoc. Let’s talk common pests and organic pest control:
- Neem Oil is a great product for any gardener’s arsenal. It’s a broad spectrum insecticide that does not affect beneficial insects (bees included!). Neem is a hormone inhibitor that prevents growth and reproduction when the treated plant is consumed by the pest. Excellent for use against aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, certain beetles and certain worms. Spray in the morning or in the evening. Azamax, derived from neem, is powerful and highly recommended.
- Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) is a bacterium found naturally in the soil and in the stomachs of caterpillars. A longstanding tool in organic farming, and especially useful in greenhouse production, BT is very effective against hornworms, loopers, tent caterpillars, gypsy moths, etc. and is also safe for beneficial insects. Try Safer Caterpillar Killer if you prefer a foliar spray or Dipel Dust for dry application.
- Spinosad is a pesticide containing two naturally occurring compounds derived from S. spinosa, a bacterium originally found in rum barrels in the Caribbean*. It attacks the central nervous system of a broad spectrum of bugs. There’s nothing better for flea beetles, thrips or leaf miners. Monterey Garden Insect Spray is another organic product that is safe against beneficials but should be sprayed in the morning or evening to prevent wet contact that could result in leaf burn in direct sunlight.
- Sluggo Plus: Slugs and earwigs have been really bad this year. Granular shaker cans of Sluggo Plus will take down slugs, snails, pill bugs, and earwigs. Sluggo Plus is easy to apply and very effective.
- Diatomaceous Earth is composed of fossilized marine algae and volcanic dust. It rips, tears, and dehydrates bugs with exoskeletons. D.E. is great for use against ant, roach, and flea prevention. Our Diatomaceous Earth is also feed grade and good for chickens and other livestock as well. Because this product’s mode of action is physical (as opposed to chemical), insects will not become resistant.
- Red Pepper Wax is great for discouraging squirrels. Be careful, those rodents will take your berries and steal bites out of every tomato and fruit they can reach. Hot Pepper Wax is loaded with pepper-derived capsaicin, and deters pesky nibbling.
While all of our pest products are organic and safe to use up until the day of harvest, you still wouldn’t want to drink or bathe in them. Wash your hands and be safe!
Questions are welcome!
By Anna Haupt
Bridget Helm says
Anything for mealybugs? They get my Mandevillas every late summer and fall just when the madevillas start to really perform 🙁
Mealybugs are tough, and the way we deal with them is dipping a Q-Tip in 10% rubbing alcohol and applying to mealybug infestation. Not as quick as simply spraying your mandevilla with something, but it works!
Can you mix neeme and BT in the same sprayer?
Hi Lisa, Yes, you can mix the two and spray, but you should use the mixture right after mixing. Do not mix them and then use at a later date.
Can you mix neem oil and diatomaceous earth together to use as a spray? I know de needs to be dry to work, but I’ve read you can wet apply it because it will become effective again once dried. I also know you need a surfacant when using neem oil, but would that decrease the effectiveness of de, or could a surfacant be left out because de is in the mix? I’m having trouble trying to find an answer to this question.
DE will become effective again when dried, and there is no problem with neem and DE reacting badly with each other. But we’re not sure about the application issue. Our advice is to try it and see what works best for you. Sorry we can’t be of more help on this one.
Thank you so much for a great, concise article on organic pesticides. As a newbie organic gardener, with a sister who swears by Sevendust, it’s a wide, WIDE world to traverse without being overwhelmed.
I do have one (ok, more like three) questions regarding Neem oil, Spinosad, and DE: How long after applying Neem may I begin using Spinosad? If I mix Spinosad with DE, will it have any future impact on my raised bed soil health if I was to add nematodes and/or worms? Should I just stick with the Neem on my plants and use the DE around the outside of the raised bed to avoid any potential issues?
Hi Tonia, Here’s our advice regarding your questions:
1. We would apply the spinosad about a week after applying neem oil to ensure that the neem won’t counter the effects of the spinosad.
2. There should be no effect on the soil health by applying the spinosad and DE.
3. We think that DE needs to be applied to the foliage to do any good. Once DE is wet, it is not effective, so once it is on the soil, it will likely take on moisture.
Hope this helps!