Eco-Friendly Insect Spray: Using Natural Pest Control Sprays In The Garden

Image by ThamKC

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

These days, we are all more conscious of the impact we have on the environment and have adopted more environmentally friendly practices, like avoiding harmful chemical pesticides. We all dream of a lush, healthy, organic garden. Unfortunately, these eco-friendly practices can sometimes leave ourselves, our loved ones or our gardens vulnerable to harmful pests. Continue reading to learn about using and making effective environmentally friendly bug sprays for people and plants.

Organic Bug Spray for Plants

There are many organic insect sprays for humans and pets available at health food stores. Even the big brands like Off, Cutter and Avon have jumped on the organic bandwagon. When purchasing organic and eco-friendly insect sprays, be sure to read the labels. If a product has understandable ingredients like lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella or rosemary extract, it probably is truly organic. If the product’s ingredients contain complex chemical compounds or DEET, keep browsing.

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You can also make your own homemade environmentally friendly bug sprays with plant oils or extracts and water. Some eco-friendly insect repellents that are safe for the human body are lemon eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, citronella oil, catmint extract, rosemary extract and rose geranium oil. These are all usually available at health food stores or can be purchased online. You can just dab a few drops directly on your body or, for fuller coverage, mix in a spray bottle with water, shake before each use and spray yourself before outdoor activities.

For another eco-friendly bug spray recipe, boil any combination you like of the following plants:

Let cool, then strain and place in a spray bottle. This herb infused water-based insect repellent will have a shorter shelf life than the oil and water mixtures. It can, however, be kept longer if refrigerated.

Using Natural Pest Control Sprays in the Garden

My go-to eco-friendly bug spray recipe for the garden is a mixture of Dawn dish soap, mouthwash and water. I swear by this easy recipe and have used it on every garden pest I encounter with great results. It works on insects, mites and fungi. I have also heard of people adding a little baking soda to the mixture, though I have not tried it myself.

It’s important to spray this mixture on a cloudy day or in the evening to avoid scorching of the plants. Spray all surfaces of the plants, the under sides of all leaves and deep within the plant center.

You can also make a plant insecticide oil spray with 1 cup of vegetable oil or mineral oil, 2 tsp Dawn dish soap and 1 cup of water. Shake well before each use and thoroughly spray all surfaces of the infected plant. Likewise, you can make a plant spray with 1qt water, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp cayenne pepper and 1 tsp Dawn dish soap.

Other organic bug sprays for plants are Bacillus thuringiensis, neem oil, mineral oil and hot pepper spray. These can be purchased at garden centers or online.

Below is a short list of insect specific eco-friendly control sprays:

  • Earwigs – Take an empty margarine container and lid, poke 4-6 holes near the top of the container just below the lid, fill the container about a ¼ full with soy sauce and vegetable oil and put the lid back on. Place these earwig traps in cool, moist areas, like under hostas, etc. The soy sauce attracts the earwigs and the vegetable oil makes them unable to get out.
  • Ants – Soapy water along with any of these – cucumber, mint, cayenne pepper, citrus oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, borax, garlic, cloves, coffee grounds, diatomaceous earth – will help take care of these pests.
  • Fleas – Soapy water mixed with fleabane, cedar, diatomaceous earth, citrus oil, rose geranium oil. You can add a smidge of apple cider vinegar to pet food to deter fleas too.
  • Mosquitos – Sage, rosemary, mint, citronella, lavender, garlic, catmint, beebalm, lemongrass, marigold, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, basil, dill, chamomile, cloves, fennel, borage, eucalyptus, rose geranium oil or neem oil.
  • Flies – Mint, bay leaves, basil, eucalyptus, and cloves help with controlling flies.
  • Ticks – Rose geranium oil, eucalyptus, cloves, rosemary, mints, citrus oil, olive oil, lemon balm, citronella, oregano, garlic, and lemongrass mixtures can help with ticks.

Simply planting any of the plants mentioned in this article will also help deter pests.

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