The world we live in has so much beauty, however it also contains pests. Pests which attack our plants, try to get in our home and sometimes find themselves setting up shop in areas we don’t want them to.
As a commercial grower for over 30 years, I’ll admit I’ve sprayed thousands of gallons of poison on plants. Over the years, I slowly weened myself off all those chemicals and looked for natural replacements.
Knowing the pests you’re trying to control plays an important role in the product you use. Controlling an aphid is different than controlling a caterpillar.
So many people ask us WHAT they can use to control pest naturally. Here’s our Top natural pest control solutions based on experience along with why we like them!
Neem Oil Our #1 Go To All-Natural Plant Insecticide
Neem oil is my #1 pest control product. I’ve used Neem for decades on everything from orchids to houseplants and even in the garden. Neem is a safe, effective powerful organic solution to naturally control insects and pests.
This natural byproduct from the Azadirachta indica tree is a great all-natural insecticide. Here’s some of Neem’s Top benefits:
- Neem oil is organic, biodegradable, non-toxic, does not pollute water and safe to use around pets and wildlife
- Neem controls hundreds of insects effectively all stages of their development – adult, larvae and egg – including the most common including: aphids, spider mites, scale, leaf hoppers, white flies, caterpillars, mealybugs, thrips and mosquitoes
- Will not harm beneficial earthworms, bees, butterflies and ladybugs
- Use Neem safely on indoor plants or in the greenhouse as an insecticide, fungicide and bactericide.
Neem oil works best on the sucking insects like aphids and spider mites. For those crawling insects like roaches, slugs and snails we use Diatomaceous Earth.
Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade
What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) comes from fossilized diatoms which are hard-shelled, single-celled algae found in bodies of water. Typically you’ll find DE sold as a white powder with an array of uses. When purchasing always buy food grade diatomaceous earth.
DE controls a host of pests indoors and out: roaches, silverfish, spiders, fleas, Japanese beetles, bed bugs and ANTS. However, we like Diatomaceous Earth best in the garden for its control of slugs and snails.
Being mildly abrasive Diatomaceous Earth has “sharp edges”, which cuts into insects like tiny paper cuts resulting in the insects dying from dehydration.
DE is safe to use around the house, in the garden and even on pets.
Bacillus Thuringiensis Bt
We all know the damage worms and caterpillars can cause. The solution: Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) a safe, effective, all-natural pesticide (a bacteria actually) used to control your caterpillar problem. It’s especially effective controlling the Tomato Hornworm.
The bacteria is naturally occurring and deadly to caterpillars of all kinds but has no effect on other insects in your garden. Easy to apply. Remember to wash your produce before you eat it.
WARNING: The use of Bt can be very beneficial to control caterpillars. However, take care not to use it in areas of your garden where butterfly caterpillars are present!
When purchasing Bacillus Thuringiensis remember that the liquid has a short shelf life. The powder when stored correctly, can last for many years.
For decades many home gardeners have used insecticidal soap for pest control and killing bugs on plants. “Natural pest control” is not something new in today’s green, eco-friendly world.
After Neem as an All-Purpose Natural solution, insecticidal soap comes in as an alternative. It’s not as versatile or effective, but works in a pinch.
The “power” in insecticidal soap comes from the fatty acids in the soap. The fatty acids dissolve the natural protective waxy coatings on soft-bodied insects like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, thrips and whiteflies. Similar to Diatomaceous Earth the insects die from water loss.
You do have a couple options with insecticidal soap. You can purchase online or make your own. When making your own you cannot use just any soap. Use a soap like castile soap.
NOTE: Some spays can cause serious damage to foliage. Always test spray in a small area. If the spray is too strong – dilute.
Remember… not all bugs are bad. Using beneficial insects – good bugs – to control the bad bugs is another pest control option.
This technique is called Integrated Pest Management or IPM. Basically, you “release” another bug which feeds on the pest you’re trying to control.
For example, releasing Ladybugs to control: aphids, moth eggs, mites, scales, thrips, leaf hoppers, mealybugs and whitefly. Predatory mites to control: two spotted spider mites, broad mites, rust mites, and cyclamen mites. Green Lacewing to control aphids. Learn more about how to use Green Lacewings here.
The Pros and Cons of Beneficial Insects
The Cons: One of the downsides of beneficial insects is you must put up with some infestation for the beneficial insect population to survive. Control can at times be erratic for reasons that may not be apparent. The cost can often be higher than to conventional controls. Also, using any other pest control methods may kill off the beneficial insects.
The Pros: Safe for the environment, people and pets. Plus less chemicals in the environment.
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