Having pests in the garden is an inevitable part of life. However, the desire to make less impact on the environment and use less dangerous chemicals drive more home gardeners to consider more natural pest control options.
For this reason, this article will discuss what organic pesticides are, the most common ones, their advantages, and their disadvantages.
What Are Organic Pesticides?
Pesticides derived from natural materials are considered organic. These natural pesticides usually get their ingredients from microorganisms, plants, and minerals.
If you think all things labeled as “natural” or “organic” are safe, think again. Indiscriminate use of all-natural pesticides is still toxic and can cause harm to the user and the environment. The active ingredient may come from natural sources, but the concentrations were adjusted to levels higher than what can be found in nature.
Common Natural Pesticides
There are a lot of natural pesticides in today’s market. However, neem oil, spinosad, horticulture oil, and pyrethrins are some of the most common pesticides that are derived from organic materials.
Neem oil is derived from a Southeast Asian tree of the same name. This oil prevents the germination of some fungal spores and attacks a bug’s hormonal system and prevents it from maturing.
Application: Ideally sprayed directly on plants to ensure that insects make contact with it.
Advantages: Neem oil is deemed non-toxic to people.
Disadvantages: Neem oil is effective but a little slow-acting. Furthermore, rain can wash away the oil while sunlight can break it down.
Caution: Make sure that pets are away from a plant that is still wet with neem oil.
Spinosad pesticides come from bacterial species. It causes damage to insects’ nerves and digestive systems.
Application: Must be sprayed directly on a plant for optimal effect.
Advantage: Spinosad is a pesticide that can control a wide array of pests.
Disadvantage: A spinosad pesticide may cause harm to beneficial insects as well.
Caution: Although spinosad is generally harmless to beneficial insects when dry, making sure that a plant sprayed with it is far from hives and such are ideal.
Horticultural oil technically comes from a mineral since it’s derived from petroleum oil—a naturally occurring fossil fuel formed from the remains of marine organisms. As a pesticide, this oil coats the insects and suffocates them.
Application: Horticultural oil is usually mixed with water and sprayed on plants.
Advantage: Horticultural oil does not leave any toxic residue. It also shows low toxicity to humans and pets.
Disadvantage: If applied in excess or with the wrong grade, it may temporarily affect the color of bluish evergreens, making them lose the bluish tint or burn leaves.
Caution: Read the label of the oil you’re using. Horticultural oil comes in different grades that are meant to be used in different seasons.
Pyrethrins are insecticides with active ingredients from the Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium more commonly known as Dalmatian chrysanthemum or Dalmatian pellitory. Pyrethrins cause instant insect death through poisoning.
Application: Pyrethrins are usually sold as powders that you can dust on leaves.
Advantage: Despite being a fast-acting pesticide, pyrethrins have low toxicity to animals.
Disadvantages: Pyrethrins are highly toxic to insects that beneficial insects like bees are killed as well.
Caution: Due to its high insect toxicity, you may want to save this for hard-to-kill insects.
Organic pesticides are substances derived from natural materials that can keep pests at bay. Although natural pesticides offer a lot of benefits, they are to be treated as toxic and to be used with caution.
If you are looking for a great selection of organic pest control products, look no further than Organic AG Products. We offer a wide variety of safe and effective agricultural solutions that are approved by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and OMRI for use in Certified Organic Farming operations. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you!