It’s a problem that every gardener will understand – insect infestations! There’s a reason that so many insects are simply referred to as “pests”. They harm your plants, and disrupt your growing season. Getting rid of these insects is tough, and it is especially tough if you want to do so without the use of harsh chemicals.
That’s precisely why we’ve written this article. We’re going to outline the top natural insecticides to rid yourself of pests without compromising the health of your plants, your pets, and yourself.
Best Natural Insecticides
In this section, we’re running down the top nontoxic insecticides on the market. We’ll examine each product on in turn, making special note of how it works, its effectiveness, and other things to look out for.
1. Neem Oil
Our first all-natural insecticide is neem oil. Neem oil is an oil derived from the neem tree, and is useful for a variety of purposes, including pest control. Best of all, it’s biodegradable, non-toxic, and it won’t harm pets, birds, fish, wildlife, or humans.
Neem oil is effective for protecting plants from pests, because it acts as an “antifeedant”. Effectively, this means that many insects will be deterred from feeding on plants which are covered in neem oil.
We particularly like this brand of neem oil. It is made from pure, cold-pressed neem oil, with no additives or other chemicals. Just quality neem oil. Application is quite easy as well, simply dilute some neem oil with water (3-7mL per quart of water), put into a spray bottle, and apply to all sorts of plants. It works on indoor plants, outdoor plants, vegetables, herbs, and more!
Neem oil is our top choice because it’s one of the most all-natural solutions available, and it works. You’ll find it at almost any garden store for this reason. Additionally, it’s highly affordable, and since you dilute it with water, it will last you a long time!
- Nontoxic and all-natural.
- Antifeedant for many pests – protects plants well.
- Easy to apply.
- Very cost effective.
- Not suitable for every type of pest.2.
2. Garlic Barrier
That’s right, garlic is a very effective insecticide! Well, technically, garlic is more of an insect repellant than an insecticide, as it keeps insects away from your plants with its pungent aroma. So, yes, garlic spray does have a strong smell, and you really will only want to use it on your outdoor plants.
That being said, this stuff really works. The aroma is strong and pungent, and it definitely will keep the insects at bay. It’s even strong enough to keep wildlife away.
We particularly like the Garlic Barrier blend. It is made from 99.9% real garlic juice. So you don’t have to worry about any dangerous chemicals or toxic ingredients.
Overall, it’s highly effective, but you really need to be wary of the strong smell. It’s only for those with big gardens and big properties. The smell might also upset your neighbors.
- Highly effective for deterring insects and animals.
- All natural ingredients, no harsh chemicals – 99.9% garlic juice.
- Easy to apply.
- Very strong smell, not suitable for indoor use of small properties.
3. Vegetable Oil Spray
Sometimes with all-natural solutions, you have to rely on a DIY formula. Making a homemade vegetable oil insecticide is fast, easy, and effective. We’ve linked you to the most important ingredient – the oil.
Vegetable oil is an effective insecticide because the oil coats the bodies of the insects. This blocks their pores, and will essentially suffocate them. It is effective, but best of all it is all-natural, and won’t harm people, pets, wildlife, or birds.
Making a homemade vegetable oil spray is simple. Take one cup of vegetable oil and mix with 1 tbsp of soap. Shake it all up. Then, take two teaspoons of the oil mixture and mix with one quart of water. Put into a spray bottle and spray to effected plants.
- Highly effective – suffocates pests.
- Very cost effective.
- Easy to make
- All-natural and non-toxic.
- Plants will have an “oily” texture.
4. Mammoth CannControl
Mammoth CannControl is another oil based all-natural insecticide solution. Its active ingredients are corn oil and thyme oil. It is made with 100% all-natural ingredients.
This is a very concentrated blend, and Mammoth claims it to be 3X more effective than competing blends. We’re not sure if this is completely true, but we can say that it is a very concentrated formula, and an effective solution. This product is good for mites, thrips, gnats, aphids, white flies, and more.
It works in a similar manner to the vegetable oil spray that we surveyed above. The corn oil blocks the pores on the pests, and effectively suffocates them. And this blend also contains thyme oil, which acts as a natural deterrent for pests due to its pungent taste and smell.
Therefore, this product is effective both as an insecticide and an insect deterrent.
Overall, it’s an effective blend, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. In fact, one container of this makes 8.5 gallons of solution.
- Highly effective as both an insecticide and a deterrent.
- Effectively mixes corn oil and thyme oil to combine benefits of both.
- One container makes 8.5 gallons of solution.
- 100% all-natural ingredients.
- Plants will have an oily texture.
- Thyme does have a somewhat strong odor.
5. Monterey Horticultural Oil
This is an effective horticultural oil controlling pests on a variety of trees & plants. It is fully approved for organic gardening. Take note that it does contain petroleum distillates, so it should be kept out of reach of children.
Its main effective ingredient is mineral oil, which (similar to vegetable oil) will act to suffocate various pests. This spray is mostly effective for aphids, leaf miners, trips, spider mites, leafhoppers, etc. It is safe to use during both dormant & growing season.
It is meant to be diluted into water, so one bottle goes a long way. Simply mix, put into a spray bottle, and spray to effected areas. Application is very easy, but you do need to completely coat effected areas.
Overall, another solid, organic option. But take note that it does contain petroleum distillates.
- Very effective against many different pests.
- Cost-effective – dilute with water.
- Spray on application.
- Good for dormant and growing season.
- Contains petroleum distillates.
6. Flying Skull
Don’t let the packaging fool you, this is a completely organic insecticide! This product contains zero toxic reside. It also contains no soaps, oils, detergents, or chemicals. Pretty impressive.
Its main active ingredient is citric acid. They advertise the product as effective against spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs, white flies, powdery mildew, larvae, and more! To apply, follow the instructions on the bottle. It is diluted with water and sprayed to effected areas.
Overall, we really like this product. The active ingredient is effective as an insecticide. It is fully organic and nontoxic, and also doesn’t utilize oils and soaps which give your plants that “greasy” feel. Plus, it’s cost effective, and one bottle makes up to 32 gallons of spray!
- No chemicals, oils, or soaps.
- Citric acid is an effective insecticide.
- Makes up to 32 gallons of spray.
- Not as effective as chemicals or oils. You’ll need to apply more rigorously.
7. Soap Spray
Here’s another very easy DIY insecticide. You’ll notice that we linked you to a simple household product – castile soap! That’s right, you can make a basic soap spray and it will be an effective insecticide.
It works in a similar way to the oil-based sprays. The thick soap coats the bugs, clogging the pores where they breathe from. But do note that you should not apply this during the hot part of the day. The mixture might overheat and lose effectiveness.
Making the mixture is easy. Take 1.5 teaspoons castile soap, mix with one quart of water, and put concoction into spray bottle. Spray on effected surfaces.
Another effective spray that you can make at home. It’s effective, cost-efficient, and all-natural. No harmful ingredients to be found here.
- All-natural solution with basic household ingredient.
- Easy to make and apply.
- Highly effective.
- Plants will get “soapy”.
- May lose effectiveness in heat.
Insecticide Buying Guide
In this section, we’ll help you make the best choice among the options above. Our goal is to give you a better understanding of insecticides, so that you may make the best choice for your personal pest issues.
Pesticide vs. Insecticide
One of the most commonly asked questions about insecticide is whether or not it is different from pesticide. The answer can be yes and no.
Most chemical insecticides are actually types of pesticide. A pesticide is defined as a chemical substance which is used to kill certain plants, insects, fungus, snails, slugs, and more.
As you might imagine, we would recommend against using an insecticide which can be classified as a pesticide. Because, as you can see from our list above, there are plenty of all natural, non-toxic options that have high degrees of effectiveness!
But here’s the thing, we won’t lie to you and say that pesticides won’t be effective in ridding you of your insect problem. In fact, pesticides are highly effective in this regard. But it also can’t be denied that they contain chemical ingredients which are harmful to people, animals, and the environment.
So before you resort to a strong pesticide, consider our safe alternatives above!
Insecticide Buyer’s Guide
Before we wrap up our article, here is a buyer’s guide to help you make the best choice among our product options above. Having a lot of all-natural options is great, but it also makes it a difficult decision. Here are some factors to consider to make the best choice:
First thing’s first, perhaps the most important variable when considering safe alternatives is the ingredients list. We were very careful to craft our list using only products that contained natural ingredients, and were largely free of harmful substances.
That being said, there are still many different ingredients to consider within this category. You can choose oil-based sprays, acid-based sprays, soap-based sprays, and more! Each have their own functions and applications. So try to decide which product variant works best for you.
It goes without saying that you need your insecticide to be effective. This mostly depends on the type of insect problem you have. What type of bug is it? What type of plant is it? Is it indoor or outdoor?
You need to know what you are dealing with, so that you can pick a solution that is specifically designed to deal with these problems.
Ease of Application
Next up, consider ease of application. Most of these products are sprays, or concentrates which will be diluted into sprays. But take special note of how extensively you need to cover the plants (some require full coverage). Also take note of how often you need to apply them.
Unfortunately, it is often the case with all-natural solutions that application must occur more frequently.
Smell & Feel
And finally, you need to consider smell and feel! Many of these products (especially the garlic spray) contain odors which are there to deter pests. Needless to say, these odors can be quite unpleasant.
If this isn’t your bag, consider leaning more toward a mild, oil-based spray. But also keep in mind that oil-based sprays make your plants feel, well, oily! It’s a definite trade-off, and you’ll need to decide what works best for you.
Thanks very much for reading our comprehensive guide to all-natural, nontoxic insecticides. As you can see, it’s an impressively large product area, full of options to choose from. We did our best to give you full outlines of each product so that you can choose the best option for you!