Homemade Insecticide Information And Recipes

A few homemade insecticides and repellent recipes.

Although prevention is in the beginning of insect control(companion planting, cleanliness, healthy and disease resistant plants), insecticides can come in handy at some points. With that in mind I developed this short guide to insecticides to help you choose the one which is best for you, but at the same time remembering the toxic nature of some insecticides. So this guide progresses from the less toxic, homemade insecticides (which can be very beneficial with small or beginning infestations) to the more powerful pyrethrum and insecticidal soaps.

Many of the homemade pest repellent mixtures can be very effective against garden pests. Strong hot tastes or smelly odors are common characteristics of most home-brewed pest repellents. Most sprays are just repellent plants(plants that repel insects while growing) blended with water and strained through cheesecloth or nylon mesh, leaving a basic repellent tea. The tea is then diluted in water to concoct a spray. The sprays are not usually cooked due to the fact that heat generally destroys the active ingredients. Instead the repellent plant is dried and minced, and allowed to soak in mineral oil for a couple of days. This is then added to water including a little detergent or soap to suspend the oil on top the water, and a teaspoon of alcohol per quart to help dissolve the soap.

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of good homemade insect repellent recipes that you can find in books and on the internet. The following are a few I have found work best in my garden:

1) Combine one teaspoon of hot pepper or tobasco sauce, 4 cloves of garlic and a quart of water. Blend well in a blender and strain, with cheesecloth or nylon mesh before placing in your sprayer. This will repel many insects including whiteflies, apids, spidermites and caterpillars.

2) Mix 1/8-1/4 cup of hydrated lime with one quart of water. This creates an effective spray agains many insects, especially spidermites. Add a drop of non-detergent soap to act as a sticking agent and insecticide. Lime can cause serious harm to plants if you use too much, so always spray a test plant first and watch it for a few days, to check for any adverse effects on plants.

3) Take one ounce of tomato leaves and add to one quart of water and blend thoroughly. Strain the resulting liquid and use to repel insects. This works well on white cabbage butterflies too.

4) Take a copious amount(as many as you can collect) of the insect you wish to repel and grind their corpses up into a powder. Mix the resulting powder with one quart of water and, spray as a repellent for the insect that you ground up for the powder.

Insecticidal soaps are mild, contact insecticides that are made from the fatty acids of animals and plants. These insecticides are safe for humans, as well as, bees and animals. The soaps will help to control soft-bodied insects such as spidermites, thrips, mealybugs, whiteflies and aphids. Insecticidal soaps penetrate and clog their bodies membranes, thereby killing them. You can buy a commercial soap product, such as Safer's Inecticidal Soap, or make your own insecticidal soaps which can prove very effective against your garden pests.

You should use a soft soap(do not use detergent soaps because these can be problematic to your plants health) such as Ivory liquid dish soap, Murphy's Oil soap, or Castille soap, all of which are biodegradable and can kill insects in a similar fashion to commercially manufactured brands. Mix three capfuls, of any of these soft soaps, with one quart of water, for a very effective insecticidal soap. These soft soaps will only last about a day before they dissipate, and need to be reapplied after above ground watering or rain.

Nicotine can be a very effective method of pest control as well. It is naturally derived, however, it is not usually used in organic gardens due to its toxicity. Nicotine can be deadly to most insects and humans, when swallowed in concentrate. This poisonous compound, affects the neuromuscular system causing insects to go into convulsions and die. Sometimes you can see it sold commercially, mixed with sulfur. One commonly used product is Black Flag's Nicotine Sulfate.

Nicotine sulfate(tobacco/water tea combined with sulfur) is excellent for use on all plants except members of the nightshade family(potatoes, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes). To make your own tobacco spray: simply combine 1/2 ounce of tobacco per quart of water, soak for one day at room temperature and strain the resultant tea. Nicotine sprays are useful on all insects, but are usually used for aphids. It is not recommended to use nicotine sulfate on plants you intend to use for consumption.

Horticultural oils are a non-poisonous, safe, and non-polluting insecticides. They are usually used to kill slow moving, immobile sucking insects by suffocating them with a thin layer of oily film. These types of insecticides are usually produced by manufacturers and not concocted by gardeners themselves. Horticultural oil spray can be useful against many bugs including aphids, scales, thrips, spidermites, whiteflies and mealybugs.

Pyrethrum is the last insecticide I will discuss, and is by far the most effective ,and most used of the insecticides. It is extracted from the flowers of the pyrethrum chrysanthemum. Seeing as how the main ingredient in pyrethrum comes from Africa, it is hard to make at home and can be found commercially sold at retail nurseries(there are many types available so I will not mention any brand names). Being an insecticide with a wide array of uses, pyrethrum is very toxic to most insects, even those that are beneficial. When applied as a spray it can also be useful against flying insects. If the insect doesn't receive a large enough quantity, it may revive, so pyrethrum is usually combined with rotenone or ryania to ensure effectiveness. Pyrethrum should be used to spot spray only heavily infested plants. It is non-toxic to animals and humans, and is very effective when applied to your garden manually.

Most insecticides are usually available because they have some usefulness, but do not take this as a sign that they are all the same or even effective. Some homemade sprays can be just as effective as the most powerful commercial insecticides and is, in most cases less toxic. Always review all your choices before choosing a product and choose which will be better to use considering your garden size, pest problem and size of the infestation.

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