How to Use Homemade Insecticides

Pest Control
Homemade Insecticides

It's difficult to deal with plant pests: they are nasty and it's often tedious to get rid of them. For these reasons, it's important to have an effective insecticide ready as soon as you notice plant bugs and other pests attacking your plants.

The best method of pest control is to keep your plants healthy so they won't attract bugs. To achieve this, you need to take a good care of your plants. Always fertilize if needed and remove all the weeds. Keep plants watered and provide the best soil, light and temperature conditions you can. This will keep the pests away.

However, pests can appear even with the best care. Therefore, it's important to act quickly and use insecticides to get rid of pests and keep your plants healthy. The sooner you start treating your plants the easier will be to get rid of pests.

There are many commercial, chemical products you can use for this purpose. Some are very effective against pest. However, these aggressive, chemical products are not good for the environment and can actually damage your plants.

Therefore, it's not surprising that plant growers are looking for more natural insecticides and homemade solutions to pest problems. The good news is that there are many homemade recipes you can use to make cheap but effective pesticides. No need to use dangerous or rare chemicals - you can make an effective products using items you can find in your kitchen.

These homemade insecticides offer several advantages. First of all, they are very affordable so you don't need to invest into buying them. Also, they are easy to make from readily-available items. Finally, they don't contain heavy chemicals that can damage your plants or the environment. For these reasons, homemade insecticides are a great solution for all your pest problems.

Popular Homemade Pesticides

We present some popular, effective and easy to make insecticides you can create all by yourself. One word of warning before you start: take care when you apply these pesticides to food-bearing plants. It's important to wash all produce well before consuming.

Another thing to keep in mind: whenever possible, use the most basic and easily available ingredients. For example, if a recipe requires liquid dish detergent, it's ok to use the basic stuff. Avoid those expensive detergents with added bleach or antibacterial substances. Don't use concentrated products, just the basic, cheap detergent. If using liquid soap, use a gentle formula or substitute it with liquid Castile or a perfume-free hand soap. The goal is to use the most basic and least aggressive ingredients. Also, take special care when applying these insecticides, as well as handling and storing them.

And now, without further ado, here are some popular homemade recipes you can easily use to make effective insecticides.

Garlic Tea

This is a very popular insecticide and it's effective against pests. You can easily make your own garlic spray by simply boiling a pint of water and adding some chopped garlic cloves and steep. Keep the garlic parts until the water cools.

After this, simply remove the garlic parts from the water and put the spray in a bottle. Use the spray to treat infected plants.

Rhubarb Leaf Mix

For this insecticide, you will need 1 cup of rhubarb leaves, 1/4 cup of dish detergent (or soap flakes) and about 6.5 cups of water.

To prepare it, cover the rhubarb leaves with water and wait till it boils. Boil for about 20 minutes. After this, remove from heat and wait till it cools. Add liquid detergent or soap flakes to the mixture.

You can use this mix to treat your plants against aphids, spider mites, June beetles and thips. One word of warning: rhubarb leaves are poisonous so take care when preparing and handling the insecticide. Don't use this pesticide for food bearing plants.

Tomato Leaves Mix

Crush tomato leaves and soak them in water. Leave for a few days. Strain and then spray your plants with this mix. This pesticide is good for white fly and grasshopper control.

Warning: tomato leaves are poisonous so take care when preparing and handling. Don't use this product for food bearing plants.

Garlic, Peppers & Onion Pesticide

You'll need: 1 large onion, 2 hot peppers, 1 whole bulb or garlic and 1/4 cup of water.

Mix the ingredients with water and blend until you make a mash. Cover this mash with 1 gallon of hot (but not boiling) water. Leave it for 24 hours. Strain and apply to your plants.

Basil Tea

You'll need: 1 cup of fresh basil or 2 TBS of dried basil, 1 TBS of liquid dish detergent and 4 cups of water.

Boil the water and then add basil. Remove it from heat, cover and steep until the mix is cool. Strain and mix with the liquid detergent. Apply. This pesticide is good against aphids.

Salt Spray

Ingredients: 2 TBS of salt and 1.5 gallons of warm water. Simply mix salt and water to dissolve. Allow the mix to cool to room temperature. Use as a spray.

This insecticide is good against spider mites, caterpillars, cabbage worms and chewing insects.

Onion Insect Repellent

To make this insecticide, collect onion skins, peels and ends. Refrigerate them in an empty margarine-sized tub or a Ziploc bag until the whole container is full. When you have enough, place these onion bits in a pail and fill with warm water. Keep it soaked for a few days (up to a week). You can keep the mixture on the patio (in the sun) to steep.

After this, strain the onion bits and store the water in spray bottles. Use onion bits to bury them around infested plants. This insecticide is good against aphids, spiders and other common pests.

Epsom Salt Spray

You'll need: 2 ounces of salt, 2 gallons of water. Make a consistent mixture, then apply to the infected plants. This repellant can help against Mildew, Black Spot, Wilt and Rust.

Diatomaceous Earth

This is a completely natural solution against insects of all kinds (even ants), and it can also successfully repel slugs, snails and other pests. Simply sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on top of the soil around the infected plants.

Slug Bait Trap

You can get rid of slugs by making simple traps with beer. Put some shallow containers with beer to attract slugs. They will drown so you'll get rid of these pests.

Hot Pepper Insecticide

You'll need: 1/2 cup of hot peppers or 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper, 1 TSP of liquid dish detergent and 1 quart water.

Boil the water, remove from heat and add peppers. Cover and steep until the mixture is cool. Strain and then add liquid detergent. If you use cayenne pepper you don't need to bring water to a boil first. Use the mixture to treat infected plants.

Oil Mix

You'll need: 1 TBS of vegetable oil, 1 TSP of liquid dish detergent and 2 cups of water. Simply fill a spray bottle with these ingredients and shake it to make a mixture. Apply to the infected plants.

Citrus Spray

You'll need: 2 cups of orange or lemon peels, 4 cups of water. Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and all peels. Cover the mixture and steep until it's cool. Strain and apply to the infected plants. This insecticide is very effective against white flies.

Baking Soda & Dish Detergent Repellent

You'll need: 2 TBS of liquid dish detergent, 2 TBS of baking soda, 1 gallon of water. Mix all these ingredients and apply the mixture to the infected plants.

Peppermint Tea

Ingredients: 1 TBS of peppermint essential oil (alternatively, you can use an infusion made of mint leaves but in this case increase the amount to 2 cup), 1 quart water.

Mix the ingredients together and use it as an insect spray. This mixture is very effective against ants.

Potato Leaves Tea

You'll need: 1 cup of potato leaves and 2 cups water. Chop leaves and cover them with hot water. Seal the container and leave for 24 h, preferably somewhere where it's hot and sunny (sunny windows are a great location). Strain and then use to treat your plants.

Warning: potato leaves are poisonous so take special care when handling and preparing. Don't use this insecticide for food bearing plants.

Japanese Beetle Bait Trap

You'll need: 1 mashed banana, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of wine, 1/2 TSP of yeast and 2 cups of water. Mix these ingredients and put them inside an old margarine container. Make sure to cover the lid and set the container in a sunny place for 24 h.

After this, remove the lid and place the container where the beetles have been spotted to attract them.

Neem Spray

Ingredients: 1 TMS Neem soap shavings and 1 liter of water. Add soap shavings to water and let the mix sit for one hour. Place the mix inside a bottle, shake it and use to treat your plants.

Mineral Oil Mix

Mix 3 parts of oil per 100 parts water. Use this mix to treat the infected plants. This insecticide is very effective against Aphids, Codling Moth, Leaf Roller, Mealybugs, Scaled Insects and White Fly.

Soap Flakes Spray

You'll need: 2 TBS of soap flakes (don't use detergents!) and 1 quart water. Dissolve soap flakes in the water and use the mix to treat your plants. It's very effective against aphids.

Dishsoap Insecticide

Mix 1 cup of Sunlight dish soap with 1 TBS of vegetable oil. Mix the ingredients and store in a plastic, airtight container. You can use 1 to 2 teaspoons of this concentrate with a quart of water to make a spray.

If using in hot weather, repeat every 3rd day (this is 3 applications over 7 days). When the weather is warm or cool, use once per week for 3 weeks.

Tips for Using these Homemade Recipes

  • These insecticides are great as preventive sprays and you may also use them as a pest killer. When treating your plants, make sure to spray underneath the leaves as well as the flower buds and new shoots.
  • Make sure to never overdo it: excessive use can harm your plants and kill the good insects you actually want to encourage in your garden (such as earthworms, bees, ladybugs, etc.).
  • If it's about to rain, delay the application until the weather is clear since the rain will wash away the spray.
  • When using a new recipe, test it on a couple of leaves first to see how the plants reacts. If no signs of damage are present after 2 or 3 days, continue to use the insecticide on the whole plant.

Photo credit: frankieleon

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