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FAQ > General Information > How Can I Control Insect Pests Organically?

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Insects are the most problematic pests for most growers. Their tiny bodies can wreak havoc on even large plants overnight. The best defense against insect pests isn’t a spray or powder, though, it’s a healthy plant. Studies have shown that bugs can single out, and will attack ailing plants first. Keep your plants healthy by allowing adequate spacing between them so that fresh air can reach their foliage. Always plant varieties that are suited to your climate, and plant at the right time of year, in nutrient rich soil at the correct pH range.

Have you addressed all of the above, and still have problems with insects? Here are some ways to control them safely :

Row Covers – Sheets of spun bonded polyester that can be placed directly over food crops. The fabric allows sunlight and water through, but protects plants from insects, birds, small animals, windborne seeds, hail, wind and slight frost.

Diatomacious Earth – A contact dust that attacks an insect’s exoskeleton, killing it by desiccation.  Effective with all insects, but particularly useful in controlling ants, snails and slugs.

Neem Oil -  One of many useful products derived from the ancient Indian Neem tree. Horticultural Neem Oil works by disrupting insects’ appetites and reproductive cycles, and repeated applications are  needed to bring an insect infestation under control.

B.t. – A biological powder containing the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis , that effectively, and safely  controls many types of caterpillars

Garlic Spray – Repels aphids, mealybugs, cabbage loopers, grasshoppers, leafhoppers. It inhibits fungal growth, and even helps deter deer and rodents.

Hot Pepper Spray – Sprays and powders derived from plants that contain capsaicin, like chili peppers, black peppercorns, cayenne peppers and paprika, effectively deter many pest insects

Pyrethrin – A potent , natural insect killer derived from chrysanthemum flowers that packs a strong punch for serious insect infestations.

Predator Insects – Insects that won’t harm your plants can be enlisted to attack those that do. Try ladybugs to control aphids, or unleash preying  mantis’ on problem caterpillars.

Companion Planting – Certain plants, especially herb varieties, deter insects and larger animals, and can be planted among food crops as an effective, natural deterrent. Astor, Marjoram, and Coreopsis ward off a wide variety of pest insects.

Last updated on November 23, 2011 by Matthew Kokenes