The world we live in has so much beauty, however, it also contains pests. Home and plant 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. As time passed I slowly weened myself off all those chemicals and looked for natural replacements.
Knowing the insect 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 are our Top natural pest control solutions based on experience along with why we like them!
Neem Oil Our #1 Go To All-Natural Plant Insecticides
Neem oil is my #1 pest control product. I’ve used this horticultural oil for decades on everything from orchids to houseplants and even in the garden. Neem is a safe, effective powerful organic solution to naturally control home insects and garden 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 & soil surface, and safe to use around pets and wildlife
- Neem controls hundreds of insects effectively all stages of their development – adult, larvae and eggs – including the most common houseplant pests including: aphids, spider mites, scale insects, leaf hoppers, white flies, caterpillars, mealybugs, thrips, fungus gnats 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 common 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 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 home gardeners have used homemade insecticidal soap recipes for pest control and killing bugs on house 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. Soapy water is 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, mealy bugs, 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 a commercial product online like Safer soap or make your own. When making your own you cannot use just any soap. Use a soap like castile soap.
NOTE: Some sprays can cause serious damage to leaves or foliage, stems and roots. 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.
The technique which involves the use of natural enemies or beneficial insects 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, soft 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 soil and environment.
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