What Bugs Does Neem Oil Kill?

If you grow plants you’ve heard people raving about the benefits of using neem oil. It’s used as a pesticide and for general plant care, such as neem cake fertilizing or neem leaf shine.

But natural remedies are often considered less effective than chemical pesticide products. You might wonder if neem oil is really effective for insect control or if it’s another organic garden fad.

What bugs does neem oil kill or control - 100'sPin

The good news is, that neem oil is far more effective on insect pests when used properly than many chemical insecticides. Neem even works against fungal diseases like powdery mildew and many bacterial plant diseases.

The purest form of neem oil comes from crushing various parts of the neem tree – Azadirachta indica.

Pure neem extract contains five natural chemical compounds that disrupt various insects’ bodily functions. The main component is Azadirachtin, which is found in the seeds.

Clarified hydrophobic neem oil is the byproduct of extracting Azadirachtin for artificial insecticides. The oil still contains trace amounts of the chemical (usually between .5 and 3% percent). The oil has different effects on insects making it perfect for topical applications.

Neem cakes, the solids leftover from extracting pure neem, contain residual amounts of the horticultural oil. They are useful for applying neem to the soil around a plant.

What Bugs Does Neem Oil Kill

Neem oil insecticide is known to affect between 200 and 600 different species of harmful insects and plant pests.

Neem may prove harmful to some beneficial insects when misapplied. But, species such as ladybugs and honeybees are not included in these numbers.

Some Common Pests Neem Oil Kills

With literally hundreds of species vulnerable to neem oil, it would take forever to list them all.

Natural neem pesticide provides effective control against these common pests found in the home and garden:

NOTE: There is no concrete evidence that any form of neem trees’ extracts will control slugs or snails.

Research has concluded that birds and other predatory animals or insects which prey on pests “poisoned” with neem oil are not at any significant risks themselves.

But, improper application of topical neem products, such as neem leaf shines or foliar sprays, can be harmful to beneficial insects such as:

  • Bees
  • Butterflies
  • Ladybugs
  • Parasitic wasps

… if they come into direct contact with the neem oil.

Is Neem Effective? – A Footnote on How Neem Kills Pests

When discussing what pests neem oil kill, it’s important to point out how neem oil kills.

Individuals often complain about the effectiveness of neem oil.

Many times these users have not applied neem correctly or are fighting an infestation that has all but killed their plant.

Neem isn’t an overnight solution. Depending on the type of oil used, it works in two different ways: internally and externally.

Internal Neem Treatment

100% percent cold-pressed raw neem is present in both neem cakes and as pure oil.

This method applies neem as a soil drench around the roots of a plant. The plant absorbs the neem oil to become a systemic insecticide.

The oil is harmless to earthworms and beneficial insects such as honeybees.

It can kill grubs and other ground-based pests and any insect feeding on the plant through chewing or piercing.

Raw neem doesn’t kill the pest immediately. Instead, it works as an insect growth regulator. Neem mimics natural insect hormones that regulate hunger, growth stages, and reproduction.

This causes a population to starve or die due to an inability to produce offspring or react to the adult stage.

Related: How To Apply Neem Oil – Do’s and Don’ts

External Neem Treatment

Due to the limited amount of Azadirachtin present, topical applications use clarified neem oil spray.

Direct application of the oil as a foliar spray on pests can cause their airways to become clogged, suffocating them.

It’s most effective against soft-bodied insects – aphid, mealybug, and plant scale. It can also kill beetles, stinkbugs, and other armored species.

This form of neem oil dissipates fast, leaving behind no residue.

As a result, it is important to use it when beneficial insects are least active. This allows neem to kill garden pests without harming your plant’s allies.

Related: How Much Neem Do You Mix in a Gallon of Water?

Patience is Essential

Because it’s all-natural, insects haven’t developed a resistance to neem oil.

But, always remember – neem kills over time. It may take up to two weeks before your infestation shows visible signs of diminishing.

Its continued effectiveness makes neem oil a better alternative to fast but easily adapted synthetic pesticides. Use neem oil as a preventative to stop insect pest infestations before they begin.

JOIN Our FREE Plant Care Newsletter 

By entering your email address you agree to receive a daily email newsletter from Plant Care Today. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.