Insecticidal soaps are made of potassium salts from fatty acids. Researchers believe that insecticidal soaps remove protective oils and waxy coverings from the exterior of soft-bodied insects, such as aphids, caterpillars and spider mites. The insects die from dehydration after their outer coverings have been compromised.
You can make your own insecticidal soap by mixing a cup of vegetable oil and a tablespoon of pure liquid soap, such as Ivory. Place in a lidded jar and shake to mix. When you’re ready to spray for insect pests, add two tablespoons of this concentrated mixture to one cup of water in a small spray bottle. Spray the diluted mixture onto your target pests. This works great on aphids!
Bt, known scientifically as bacillus thuringiensis, is a microbial pesticide that is nontoxic to humans and animals. animals. Homeowners can purchase Bt as a spray or as granules to mix with water. When insects ingest the microbes, it damages their guts and causes them to die. Different formulations of Bt target different insects, such as caterpillars, beetles and mosquito larvae. That means homeowners must identify the problem bug to apply the correct type of Bt. It also means that Bt won’t kill beneficial insects, like ladybugs and green lacewings. And since Bt residue is harmless to humans, it can even be applied even to vegetables that are nearly ready for harvest.
Diatomaceous earth is made up of the fossilized remains of microscopic aquatic organisms. Like Bt, diatomaceous earth is nontoxic to humans and animals. Diatomaceous earth works by scratching an insect’s exoskeleton, which then causes the insect to dehydrate and die. It is most effective when the temperature is high and the humidity is low. DE can be used to kill cockroaches, ants, silverfish, fleas, ticks and other insects.
When purchasing diatomaceous earth, be sure to get the correct grade for insect control, and not the kind sold for use in swimming pool filters; this formulation will not be as effective for killing insects.
None of us wants to consume pesticides with our food. One of the benefits of vegetable gardening is the fact that you can use organic pesticides that are not going to be harmful to you or your family.