Guide to Organic Pesticides

Consider using these effective and nontoxic (for you) organic pesticides to zap pesky bugs.

| February/March 1994

Corn borer

With the right organic pesticides, you can stop tomato hornworms like this dead in their tracks.

Photo by iStock/BackyardProduction

The philosophy behind organic gardening is hardly new to MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers, who've known about the benefits for years. However, interest has grown markedly in the mainstream. Many are finally joining the organic movement in order to rebel against additives in food, chemicals in the soil and water, pollutants in the air, and the dangerous pesticides regularly sprayed. The balance of nature has been precariously disturbed as the number of good and necessary bugs has been diminished, and to make matters worse, many of the harmful insects have developed resistance to common pesticides. But there's good news...

Today's scientists are discovering more and more plants that produce natural bactericides, fungicides, and insecticides. In fact, many nontoxic household products are considered effective in the war against gardening pests. Below are the acceptable organic controls that gardeners find most effective today.

Household Detergents

You can mix these insecticides right in your kitchen.

1) USDA recommendation: Mix one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with one cup of vegetable oil. Shake vigorously to emulsify and add to a quart of tap water. Use at 10-day intervals as an all-purpose spray for white flies, spider mites, aphids, and various insects on carrots, celery, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and others. We've used it on evergreens and other ornamentals. Note: Test on a single plant first, because it may cause tip burn. This is a contact insecticide, so spray mix directly on the pest.

2) Liquid detergent-alcohol spray: Mix one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent plus one cup of rubbing alcohol in one quart of water. Test on a few leaves first to make sure no harm is done to sensitive plants. Spray top and bottom sides of leaves; or if plant is small and potted, invert it in a large pan of solution (holding soil ball securely) and gently swish back and forth. Repeat in seven days.

3) Liquid detergent—hot pepper spray: Steep three tablespoons of dry, crushed hot pepper in 1/2 cup hot water (covered) for half an hour. Strain out the particles of peppers, and then mix solution with the liquid detergent formula mentioned above. Good for a number of insects on both indoor and outdoor plants. Note: Apply to plants outdoors. Do not use on windy days. Avoid breathing fumes, which can be irritating to nose and eyes. You can substitute hot Tabasco sauce or Louisiana hot sauce for hot pepper.

6/1/2016 9:31:38 AM

i would like to have a complete list of organic pesticides with it s properties and price. we live in arid and semi arid area.

8/3/2015 7:48:57 PM

I am having a terrible time with Japanese beetles on my white seedless grape plants. I was surprised to learn that the grubs are actually underground. Help any good natural ways to kill them on the plants and what about the ground? Thanks you so much right now I have lace leaves.

6/24/2015 3:23:37 PM

How do bees react to the red pepper and garlic?

6/9/2015 6:56:24 PM

I applied the household detergent receipe above, dish detergent, oil and water and my 33 tomato and pepper plants leaves have turned black. Will they live now?

4/28/2015 11:53:21 AM

Great article. Natural pesticide are great way to combat pest and save environment. Learn to make natural pesticide from natural ingredients like orange peel, salt, chrysanthemum etc

5/17/2014 10:51:06 PM

Hello, Thanks a lot for a awesome presentation on pest control management! Yes i am agree with your content. Some days ago i gotten a amazing sites with a lot of interesting pest management. There was also many online It Support.

Gabriël Smit
1/6/2014 6:20:20 AM

Bugged by Cockroaches, Fishmoths, Crickets...? your answer is EcoZap ! EcoZap is the ONLY scientifically tested and government approved pesticide on the market combining the double killing power of Boric Acid with that of Diatomaceous Earth. Two naturally occuring elements scientifically proven to kill cockroaches and other insects - both green and organic! NO organophosphates! EcoZap is the economical DIY answer! • No need for dangerous organophosphates! • No need for special equipment! • No need for expensive services

6/27/2012 7:54:29 PM

ORANGE GUARD. Insecticide ACTUALLY made from 100% edible plant extracts and water. Organic Materials Review Institute listed for use in Organic Production. EPA registered for use around food, humans and pets. All ingredients are on FDA GRAS list, this is the list of ingredients Generally Recognized As Safe in food. Check this product out, you will not be disappointed

Alwyn L'hoir_1
6/4/2010 9:09:27 PM

Please do not use tobacco as an insecticide, it is very very harmful to bees.

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