Before we get into this article, kindly understand that everything is a chemical. From water which has a chemical formula of H2O to Oxygen which is O2. But, here, the bad Chemicals are the synthetic pesticides.
What are Natural pesticides (also called Botanical pesticides)?
These are organic pesticides that are derived from plants, who typically use it as a form of protection. These types of pesticides have become more popular as they don’t release toxins as they decompose and have proven to be more useful than conventional insecticides as insects become more resistant to synthetic pesticides.
Plants use self-created pesticides as a form of defense against diseases, herbivores, and insects just as animals create some defense mechanisms from predators. Some animals release offensive smell to escape death or being fed upon.But, trust some humans to still kill them irrespective; your smell means nothing haq haq haq.
These Pesticides include chemicals such as nicotine or urushiol and oils like citrus oils. The insecticides made with these natural pesticides have minimal to no toxic effect on the environment while acting fast to tackle insects.(Read more here)
For Example, Organic gardening emphasizes on natural methods, right from use of fertilizers to pesticides. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can be harmful to the ecosystem. Apart from causing harm to the beneficial organisms in the soil, such chemicals may also seep into the ground water. They may also affect animals and even humans.
The insecticides made of natural substances are found to be safe for all.
Some of the popular organic pesticides are Neem oil, Nicotine, Sabadilla, citrus oil, Ryania Pyrethrin and Rotenone.
These oils have different modes of preparation and operation.
For Example, Neem oil which is extracted from the seeds of neem trees. This oil with a pungent smell, has been used as an insecticide, for a very long time. While it can be toxic to some insects, others get repelled due to the smell of this oil. It is said that neem oil affects the hormonal balance of certain insects, thereby causing their death, before their next molting stage. Apart from controlling insects like white fly, aphids, and Japanese beetles, neem oil is also an excellent miticide as well as a fungicide. It is not toxic for beneficial insects, humans, and animals. Neem oil has to be diluted with water before it is applied on plants.
Nicotine: Pure nicotine is toxic to animals as well as humans, hence it is best used in diluted form. Most of the store-bought nicotine insecticides are found to be 40% liquid concentrates, that have to be diluted with an ample amount of water before application. It is useful in controlling white flies, aphids, thrips, leaf hoppers, etc., and is usually applied during warm weather, for maximum effect. You may also prepare a homemade natural insecticide with nicotine, by boiling around 100 cigarettes in four liters of water. Keep the water overnight, and strain it before storing. You have to mix one part of this mixture with two parts of water, before spraying it on plants.
Sabadilla: This is produced from the seeds of a plant, that resemble lilies in looks. The active ingredient in sabadilla is an alkaloid called veratrine. It is highly toxic to insects which come into contact with this insecticide or ingest it. This insecticide is mainly used in the form of dust or spray, and is found to be non-toxic to humans as well as animals. However, make sure to wear masks while using this insecticide, as inhalation may cause sneezing. It can also cause irritation of the eyes.
Pyrethrin and Rotenone which is obtained from Dalmatian chrysanthemum, it is a botanical insecticide that attacks the central nervous system of insects. It is available in the form of dust as well as liquid suspension. It has been observed that in small amounts, this insecticide may not be toxic to insects, but still may repel them. However, in large amounts, it can be slightly toxic to humans as well as animals. As far as fish is concerned, pyrethrin can be toxic. Rotenone is another insecticide that is derived from the roots of plants that belong to the genus Derris. It is mainly used as a dust or spray, and it can be slightly toxic to mammals. As with the case of pyrethrin, rotenone is also toxic to fish.
Natural insecticides can also be prepared at home, using materials that are easily available in the kitchen. They include garlic, cornmeal, and cayenne pepper. Crushed garlic boiled with water is found to be effective in controlling soft-bodied insects, like aphids. Cornmeal sprinkled around plants can prove deadly for horn worms. They cannot digest cornmeal. Even soap sprays are found to be useful in controlling several pests.
You can also use beneficial nematodes, which are roundworms that can cause damage to the internal organs of the pest, which are mainly insects and insect larvae. You must consult an expert horticulturist and gain thorough knowledge about these insecticides before using them. You must also know which one is ideal for your crop, when to apply it, and how much is needed.
According to Garden nerdy, here are some recipes that you can make at home by yourself:
1. Garlic Spray
To make a natural insect repellent using garlic, chop garlic cloves (3 ounces) and soak the pieces in mineral oil (2 tablespoons) for one night. For added effectiveness, stir in fish emulsion (1 teaspoon) in the garlic mixture. Strain the liquid part and store it in an airtight glass container. While using, dilute one part of this natural insect repellent with 20 parts water and spray on the plants.
Side Note: Ladies, this is a convenient way of making your own pepper spray but make it more toxic instead of buying one to ward off “predators”. DIYs stay winning.
2. Tomato Leaf Extract
Tomato leaf is excellent to control insect and pest infestations in flowering plants. For this, you will need leaves of a mature tomato plant, 4 pints water, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. First, blend the tomato leaves in a mixer and stir the extract with cornstarch and water. Using a sprayer, apply this mixture to rose and other flowering plants.
3. Saline Water
If you notice spider mites and cabbage worms, the best natural insecticide is salt water. Dissolve 4 tablespoons salt in 2 gallons of water. Apply this saline solution to kill the said garden pests. Salt is also commonly used in natural herbicides, but remember, that applying a highly concentrated salt solution will negatively affect the soil in the area.
4. Neem Oil
Neem (Azadirachta indica) possesses natural pest repellent properties, thus serving as an excellent ingredient for killing insects. Nothing can beat the effectiveness of neem oil and neem spray in controlling troublesome garden pests. As you apply neem oil to plants, the insects suck the oil and die. Thus, neem oil serves as a systemic poison for the insects.
5. Hot Pepper and Garlic
Combine 1 quart water, 1 teaspoon of hot pepper sauce, and 4 garlic cloves in a bowl. Blend it for 2 to 3 minutes and strain using a cheesecloth. Apply this hot pepper spray to get rid of caterpillars, aphids, and whiteflies. You can refrigerate the leftover mixture in an airtight container for future application.
6. Diatomaceous Earth
A safe natural insecticide is diatomaceous earth, a white powder derived from diatoms. Sprinkle this powder in the soil to reduce slugs, whiteflies, aphids, and other soft-bodied insects. Another effectual fungicide and insecticide is boric acid, which is soluble in water. Make a dilute solution of boric acid and water, and use it for treating fungus, as well as ants, fleas, ticks, and termites.
Here is a bonus point, if you do not have time to make these insecticides, simply place shallow bowls with beer near the plants. This will attract slugs and snails, thus preventing them from affecting your garden. For long-term protection of plants from flea-beetles, you can grow mint and onion in the vegetable garden; How cool is that? Nothing is a waste except you don’t know about it.
What natural pesticides have you tried?
Let us know in the comment section