The Q&A Archives: What harms the good bugs and animals?

Question: I am a beginning gardener. I have just come across homemade recipes to control pests and plant diseases. Will any of the following items: children's shampoo, lemon scented dishwashing soap, lemon scented ammonia, soda drinks such as Sprite, Coke etc., mint antiseptic mouthwash, or a juice made from chewing tabacco harm any of the animals, birds or "good" insects in my yard...such as earth worms, praying mantis, lady bugs, honey bees, squirrels, chipmunks, turtles, etc. I do not want to do anything that will hurt these creatures but I do want to improve the looks of my yard. Thank you!

Answer: (((oooohhh edit edit! Far too catastophic! Soften it out!)))

Unfortunately, a lot of the homemade and "organic" pest and disease controls available are harmful to more than the target pest. The benefit of these is 1) ready availability of the ingredients and 2) they break down relatively quickly in the environment, so their effects don't linger long. Soaps coat soft-bodied insects and dissolve their outer skin, and can interfere with the movements of other non-target insects. Some soaps contain detergents that can harm plant tissues. In tobacco, the toxic ingredient is nicotine, which is is deadly to all insects and animals (including humans!) in high concentrations.

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "sunset on summer"