Will Insecticidal Soap Kill Beneficial Insects? - Knowledgebase Question

Westford, MA
Question by dcrosby7
May 18, 1999
Will insecticidal soap kill all living insects on my plants? Is there anything I can use on my ornamentals that will specifically target the "bad" bugs? What about on my veggies? I know I can get "good" bugs and release them in my garden but if I do that I don't want to then kill them off by spraying the wrong thing.


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Answer from NGA
May 18, 1999

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The insecticidal soaps are made from plant-derived fatty acids and target soft-bodied insects. There's really no way you can target the bad guys without fallout on the good guys. I'm glad that you're thinking about the beneficials. If you can regularly monitor your plants and tolerate some damage to them, over time Mother Nature strikes a balance, with the beneficials coming in to control the bad guys. Healthy vigorous plants will withstand insect attacks best, and it's really the best thing you can do to provent insect problems.

I always start with the simplest method first, and if that isn't successful, move on from there. A strong blast of water from the hose often works. Spray underneath leaves, in between, etc. Do this daily if you notice insects. Hand pick larger insects.

Ladybugs and their larvae are voracious eaters of aphids, which often attack veggies. They often "arrive" a week or two after the aphids, so not spraying with chemicals is a good idea if you'd like to attract them to your garden to consume aphids for you. Write again with specifics on the bugs that are on your ornamentals. Good luck!

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