Organic Remedies for Garden Pests

Here's an extensive list of organic remedies for garden pests from our "Guide to Organic Pest Control" article:


No-spray Options                                      

Top Product Choices                           

Row covers; beneficial insects including ladybeetles, lacewings and syrphid flies; reflective mulches

Insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, horticultural oil

Row covers; beneficial insects including braconids and other small wasps

Bt, spinosad, kaolin clay
Asparagus beetles

Predation by poultry; winter cleanup of debris


Cabbage loopers

Row covers; handpicking; predation by birds

Bt or spinosad

Row covers; handpicking; predation by birds 

Bt or spinosad

Colorado potato beetles Resistant varieties; row covers; straw mulch; crop rotation; handpicking


Corn earworms

Resistant corn varieties with tight husk tips; early planting

Bt, spinosad or vegetable oil applied to young ear tips

Corn borers

Good end-of-season cleanup of debris; parasitic wasps

Bt, spinosad (alternating use)

Cucumber beetles

Row covers; handpicking; vacuuming; trapping in yellow pails filled with water or with yellow sticky traps

Kaolin clay


Surface cultivation; weed reduction; rigid collars around seedling stems

Bt, kaolin clay, beneficial nematodes
Fire ants

Check garden weekly for new mounds and treat as needed


Flea beetles

Row covers; reflective mulch


Grasshoppers Poultry; good fall cleanup to dislodge overwintering eggs

Nosema locustae protozoa, applied to habitat areas in late spring 

Japanese beetles Row covers; handpicking; parasitic wasps Milky spore, beneficial nematodes 

Ladybeetles, lacewings and other beneficial insects

Neem, kaolin clay, diatomaceous earth

Mexican bean beetle

Scout twice weekly; handpick adults, eggs and larvae; release beneficial Pediobius wasps

Spider mites

Encourage beneficial insects; use strong water spray to wash undersides of leaves

Insecticidal soap applied in late afternoon or early evening

Slugs and snails

No evening watering; handpicking; trapping; ground beetles and other natural predators; reduced mulching; clean cultivation

Sand, diatomaceous earth, copper barriers, iron sulfate baits (restricted use in some certified organic operations)
Squash bugs

Row covers; handpicking; trapping under boards at night; growing non-preferred varieties; prompt composting of debris


Squash vine borers

Resistant varieties (butternuts); row covers; surgical removal; composting of all debris

Beneficial nematodes

Tarnished plant bugs (Lygus bugs)

Close mowing near plantings; vacuuming; row covers; trap cropping with alfalfa

Beauvaria bassiana fungus

Tent caterpillers

Tear nests open with a stick every few days

Late night applications of Bt or spinosad

Grow flowers to provide pollen and nectar for beneficial insects; reflective mulches

Kaolin clay, Beauvaria fungus, insecticidal soap
Tomato fruitworm (same species as corn earworm)

Encourage beneficial insects and wild birds; handpick

Bt or spinosad

Tomato hornworm

Scout twice weekly starting in early summer; handpick

Bt or spinosad


Wash off with water; yellow sticky traps; reflective mulches

Neem, insecticidal soap, horticultural oil

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