Skip to content

Top 5 Natural Pest Control Methods You Can Use Now

Natural Pesticides

There’s no doubt that chemical pesticides have protected crops but at what cost?  Chemical pesticides create “dead zones” that kill nearly all organisms in the exposed area, including the beneficial ones.  Since many chemical pesticides kill even the beneficial insects and pollinators, there have been situations where destructive pests will become worse because there aren’t any predatory insects to attack them.  A lack of pollinating insects means the plants won’t produce fruit.  All of this makes the problem far worse than it was before due to using chemical pesticides.  See just a few examples in the following documentation:

Runoff pollution from pesticides contaminates land and water and kills the local wildlife.  The health effects of pesticides are becoming common knowledge. As an example, there are still massive lawsuits on file against Monsanto/Bayer due to the cancer-causing effects of glyphosate.

And that’s just one example.  So if pesticides are so bad, how can you keep your garden protected?  There are natural organic pest control methods that can help.

Some natural pesticides come from plants that have built-in pest resistance.  These pesticides are biodegradable, are non-toxic for humans to consume, and generally don’t harm wildlife or beneficial organisms.  Read on to learn about some of the different types of natural pest control methods.

Video – Natural Pest Control Methods

Neem Oil and Neem Cake

Neem Oil

Neem oil is processed from the seeds of the Azadirachta Indica tree, which is native to India.  It’s been used as a natural pest control and fungicide for several centuries.

Reports indicate that neem oil can inhibit the feeding of over 170 insect species, and it’s directly toxic to termites, aphids, and caterpillars.

Neem oil only affects the insects that eat the plants the oil is sprayed on.  It will not harm ladybugs, other predatory insects, honeybees, butterflies, or earthworms.

Remarkably, it even has extensive use in cosmetics, skincare, and hair care products.  Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using neem oil.  Using too much of it will not give you any greater benefit.

It’s a good idea to test a small quantity of neem oil on your plants.  Higher doses can kill some plants.  The best time to apply neem oil is in the early evening since it can burn the plant if applied in direct sunlight.  Neem oil washes off easily and is safe and non-toxic to eat in small doses.  It is also safe around mammals and birds.

Neem Cake

Neem cake is a mixture of manure and ground-up neem leaves, so it acts as a plant food and an insecticide/repellant.  It can be mixed into the soil prior to planting, which will take care of nematodes, grubs, and termites.

It’s also an effective fungicide.  Spread neem cake on the surface to repel ants, beetles, gnats, and other surface dwellers.  Neem cake will occasionally have an unpleasant odor that could last a couple of weeks, so that could be an issue if you use it on indoor plants.

Check out our post “All About Using Neem Oil and Cake for Plants” to learn more about these powerful pesticides.

Diatomaceous Earth – Natural Pest Control With Fossils

Diatoms are beautiful single-celled algae that have a cell wall made of silica.  When the algae die the silica cell walls remain and are deposited in massive quantities in the sediment of oceans, rivers, and lakes.

There are also significant deposits of fossilized diatoms found throughout the earth’s surface.  These accumulations of tiny silica shells are called diatomaceous earth (or D.E.), and it is used in over 150 pesticide products as well as toothpaste, skin care products, medicines, beverages, foods, paints, water filters, and rubber products.

When used around plants, insects must walk on the D.E.  This direct contact absorbs the oils and fats from the insects and causes them to dry out and die.

The silica shells are also very sharp and create micro cuts on the insects, which further speeds up the process. Diatomaceous earth lasts a long time, but it doesn’t kill bugs immediately upon application.  It can take 7 to 17 days before the bugs are affected.

Horticultural Oil

Horticultural oil (or hort oil for short) is often made from cottonseed, safflower, soybean, or vegetable oil.  Hort oils are typically used on fruit trees.  When classified as a summer oil, it’s used when leaves are still on the trees.

Dormant oils are heavier and are used after the leaves have fallen.  Dormant oils kill off the bugs that spend winter in the trees, such as aphids, mites, and scale.

Hort oils work by suffocating the insects and their eggs. To be effective, spray the oils directly on the insects.

If you’re going to use hort oil you need to test it on the plants just like neem oil.  Apply the oil to a small spot on the plant and wait 24 hours to see if any damage occurs.  Also, apply the oil in the early evening and never in direct sunlight.

Handpicking

The simplest and most time-consuming natural organic pest control method is just picking the insects off the plants.  Japanese beetles are a particularly popular bug to remove by this method. 

The advantages to this method are there’s no risk to your plants and zero chemicals of any type.  It’s sometimes possible to use a shop vacuum to gently suck up any bugs on a plant.  Be careful, though, because some delicate plants may not be able to withstand the force of the vacuum.

Companion Planting for Natural Pest Control

Another chemical-free method of natural insect control is companion planting.  We even have our Companion Planting Chart that’s a free pdf download. It has extensive information on companion plants for vegetables and herbs as well as plant combinations to avoid.

Marigolds and nasturtiums are two flowering plants that are well-known for natural organic pest control and repel many types of insects.  For tomatoes and lettuce, grow some basil next to the plants.

The basil helps to drive away mosquitoes and flies and also improves the flavor of the veggies.  If you grow potatoes near tomatoes, you run the risk of rotting disease spreading from the potatoes to the tomatoes.  Keep those two plants away from each other.

If you’re growing cabbages, tomatoes and celery will repel cabbage worms.  There are so many combinations it’s worth the time to do a little advanced planning.

Final Thoughts

You don’t need to use harsh chemicals to have a beautiful garden.  Use the above methods to start making your plan to naturally protect your plants from pests.

Bob Styer

As a child, I hated gardening. That was mainly because Dad expected us to work in the garden every so often even though we thought play was more important. Over the years, though, I've developed a real appreciation for growing things. Whether you're growing plants for food or to enjoy their beauty, gardening can make your life better. Seize the moment!

Back To Top
Search