The Q&A Archives: Natural insect remedy

Question: What is a good home solution to protect my green bean, tomato, & green pepper plants? Thanks, Will Whiteman -

Answer: There really is no single organic pesticide that will take care of all insect pests in your veggie garden, but there are several botanicals you can use, depending upon the targeted pest. Here are a few:
Pyrethrum? This slightly toxic insecticide is derived from the flowers of a species of chrysanthemum imported mainly from Kenya and Ecuador. The material causes rapid paralysis of most insects, but the insects usually recover unless the py-rethrum is combined with a synergist or other poison. Pyrethrum mixed with synergists such as piperonyl butoxide or piperonyl cyclonene increases toxicity and produces longer, residual action, and is used extensively in space sprays, household sprays, crop sprays and dusts. This chemical is registered for use on most vegetables and fruits at any time during the growing season.

Nicotine?Botanical insecticide. Pure nicotine is a tobacco extract highly toxic to warm-blooded animals. The insecticide usually is marketed as a 40% liquid concentrate of nicotine sulfate, which is diluted in water and applied as a spray. Dusts can irritate the skin and are not normally available for garden use. Nicotine is used primarily for piercing-sucking insects such as aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers and thrips. Nicotine is more ef-fective when applied during warm weather. It degrades quickly, so it can be used on many food plants nearing harvest. It is registered for use on a wide range of veg-etable and fruit crops.

Sabadilla?Botanical insecticide. Sabadilla is obtained from the seeds of a lily-like plant and acts as both a con-tact and stomach poison for insects. It is not particularly toxic to mammals, but it does cause irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract. A mask should be worn when working with this insecticide. This material deteriorates rapidly when exposed to light and can be used safely on food crops shortly before harvest. Generally Sabadilla is used as a 5 to 20% dust or as a spray.

Rotenone?Botanical insecticide. Rotenone is ex-tracted from the roots of derris plants in Asia and cube plants in South America. This general garden insecticide is harmless to plants, highly toxic to fish and many insects, moderately toxic to mammals, and leaves no harmful residue on vegetable crops. It acts as both a contact and stomach poison to insects. It is slow acting and, in the presence of sun and air, its effectiveness is lost within a week after application. Wear a mask during application because rotenone can irritate the respiratory tract. Rotenone dusts and sprays have been used for years to control aphids, certain beetles and caterpillars on plants, as well as fleas and lice on animals.

Neem?Botanical insecticide. Neem oil is an extract from the Neem tree, Azadirachta indica (Meliaceae). The neem tree is native to Southeast Asia and grows in many countries throughout the world. It is a close relative to the common Chinaberry tree. This tree propagates readily from cuttings, stumps, tissue culture or seeds. It is widely used as a shade tree in many areas because it tolerates a wide range of conditions. The neem tree has many medicinal uses. It has been used as an antiseptic and diuretic. It has been used to cure disease from diabetes to syphilis, and widely relied upon by herbalists in its native habitat. The uses of the neem tree as a source of natural insecticides was discovered over 40 years ago.The seeds of the neem tree contain the highest concentration of azadirachtin and other biologically active compounds. Because they contain the highest concentration of these compounds, most experimental and commercial preparations of neem are seed extracts.

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