Guide to Organic Pesticides

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

  • tomato hornworm
    With the right organic pesticides, you can stop tomato hornworms like this dead in their tracks.
    Photo by iStock/BackyardProduction

  • tomato hornworm

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?

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters