Reducing the number of #toxins our bodies have to contend with is a worthwhile goal. While today’s chemical pesticides make dealing with pests easy, the harsh toxins they contain are damaging to the environment and our family. Most of these insecticides contain chemicals that are linked to cancer cells in humans and animals. Growing vegetables gives you control over how your family’s food is grown and whether toxic chemicals are used for pest control. Listed below are the best all-natural pesticides recommended by readers and members. They offer an inexpensive, organic and safe method of combating garden pest infestations. Please share your favorite in the comments. Let's build our library of natural toxic free solutions.
Pest control methods: Natural vs. Chemical
Top Homemade Pesticides *Note* Always spray plants early in the morning to avoid burning leaves.
A favorite natural pesticide, neem oil, is one of the most powerful all-natural plant based insecticides. The yellow-brown oil from the neem tree seed is made into sprays available from reputable companies.
Carefully follow label instructions and avoid contact with skin. If exposure occurs, follow the First Aid instruction on the label. Contact the Poison ControlCenter for more treatment instructions: 1-800-222-1222.
Salt Water Spray
Spider mites and cabbage worms are a common problem and can wipe out an entire garden if not removed.
For an easy insecticide, mix 1gallon warm water and 2 tablespoons of natural salt, such as pink Himalayan crystal salt. Place in sprayer bottle and spray plants. Repeat if necessary.
Natural Soap Spray
A great all-purpose spray for aphids, mites, white flies, and other small insects. Add orange or lemon essential oil for ants and to help the spray to stick to your plants.
In spray bottle mix ingredients and shake well before using:
- 1½ tablespoons biodegradable liquid soap (Mrs. Myers soap, Murphy’s Oil soap, or castile soap)
- 1 quart water
- 2 drops lemon or orange essential oil
Shake well before each use and spray plants thoroughly, covering the top and underside of leaves.
Garlic-Chili Pepper Spray
Garlic and chili peppers are natural insect repellants for Japanese beetles, leaf hoppers, slugs, and borers. As well as an insecticide, garlic is known for repelling larger pests such as rabbit and deer.
In spray bottle mix:
- 1 recipe Natural Soap Spray
- 1 tablespoon ground chili or cayenne pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
Combine minced garlic and ground pepper and mix well. Let set overnight. Strain and pour into spray bottle with Natural Soap Spray and shake well. Spray on plants as needed. Keeps for 2 weeks.
*Note* To help control ants, add 10 drops of orange or lemon essential oil.
Orange Water, and Soap
This easy to make mixture is an effective treatment for slugs, ants, and roaches.
Mix in large glass jar:
- 1 gallon water
- 3 tablespoons liquid organic castile soap
- 1 ounce orange essential oil
Shake well and pour in spray bottle. Spray directly on bugs.
Antifungal Plant Spray
Use this spray on any plants with fungal disease. Treat plants with grayish-white mildew on the leaves.
- 2 quarts warm water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Place 1 cup warm water in a glass bowl or large measuring cup. Add baking soda and stir until dissolved, add oil, and mix well. Add remaining warm water and mix again.
Before treating plants, remove severely damaged leaves. Spray plants covering all areas, even ones not showing signs of disease. Repeat every other day until signs of disease are gone.
*Note* Do not mix batches ahead of time. Water needs to be warm and the treatment works best when using a fresh solution for each dose.
*Warning* Insecticides kill beneficial bugs as well. Use sparingly and only treat plants and areas showing disease or pests.
Chrysanthemum Flower Spray
Chrysanthemum flowers contain pyrethrum a powerful plant chemical that attacks insect nervous systems. As with other pesticides, this will affect beneficial insects, so use sparingly.
- 1 quart water
- 4 ounces dried chrysanthemum flowers
- 1/2 ounce neem oil
Bring water to a hard boil. Add dried flowers and return to boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer for twenty minutes. Strain liquid, add neem oil, and let cool. Fill spray bottle and use as needed. Store solution up to two months.
*Note* Always use a glass or stainless steel pan when making this solution.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Uses for diatomaceous earth:
- Flea Control
- Carpenter Ants
- Sugar Ants
- Bed Bugs
- Mites in Poultry
- Pin Worms
- Preservation of Legumes and Corn
Diatomaceous Earth Spray
- 1 cup diatomaceous earth powder
- 2 tablespoons powdered cayenne pepper
- 2 quarts water
Mix all ingredients and let set overnight. Shake well before using and apply as needed.
*Warning* Diatomaceous earth is editable and many people swear by it for internal parasitic control. There are different types of DE and getting the right one is very important. Always use food grade diatomaceous earth. Read the label, making sure it says 100% diatomaceous earth. Some companies cut their food grade DE with other substances. Never use diatomaceous earth made for swimming pool filters.