How to Make Your Own Natural Homemade Insecticide

What Is Insecticide?

Insecticides are traditionally chemical substances that are used to kill insects. And they often include ovicides and larvicides which are used against insect eggs and larvae. Amazingly enough, insecticides are believed to be one of the major factors behind the increase of the 20th-century's agricultural productivity. Unfortunately, nearly all insecticides have the potential to significantly alter ecosystems. Many are toxic to humans and animals; some can even become concentrated as they spread along the food chain.

Types of Insecticides

Insecticides can be distinguished into three types. 

  1. Natural insecticides, such as nicotine, pyrethrum, and neem-extracts which are made by plants as defenses against insects.
  2. Inorganic insecticides, which are metals.
  3. Organic insecticides, which are organic chemical compounds. 

How Do Insecticides Work?

Insecticides can be classified into two major groups: systemic insecticides, which have residual or long-term activity; and contact insecticides, which have no residual activity.

Systemic:

Systemic insecticides become incorporated and distributed systemically throughout the whole plant. When insects feed on the plant, they ingest the insecticide. Systemic insecticides produced by transgenic plants are called plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs). For instance, a gene that codes for a specific Bacillus thuringiensis biocidal protein was introduced into corn and other species. The plant manufactures the protein, which kills the insect when consumed. Yeah I know, that doesn't sound like a good thing. I mean, we are eating the same things but we aren’t dying...strange.

Contact: 

Contact insecticides are toxic to insects upon direct contact. These can be inorganic insecticides, which are metals that include arsenates, copper, fluorine, and sulfur. Fortunately, contact insecticides can also be organic insecticides. Actually, organic contact insecticides comprise the largest numbers of pesticides used today.

Problems with Traditional Insecticide

Effects on Non-Target Species:

Some insecticides kill or harm other creatures in addition to those they are intended to kill. For example, birds may be poisoned when they eat food that was recently sprayed with insecticides or when they mistake an insecticide granule on the ground for food and eat it. Unfortunately, sprayed insecticide may drift from the area to which it is applied and into wildlife areas, especially when it is sprayed aerially.

Chronic Poisoning:

A person who is exposed to small amounts of insecticides over a long period of time can experience the effects of chronic poisoning. Unfortunately, this type of insecticide poisoning often causes physical and neurological effects such as nervousness, slow movement, twitching and a decline in good health. Additionally, chronic poisoning may be difficult to treat, especially if the source of the poisoning is not known.

Runoff:

Insecticide runoff occurs when chemical pesticides are sprayed onto eroding soil or with heavy rains right after application. Furthermore, insecticide runoff is dangerous to water supplies and local wildlife. A person who drinks water contaminated with insecticide from runoff can experience acute to chronic poisoning effects. Additionally, insecticide runoff can also negatively impact surrounding wildlife by killing or poisoning food supplies such as insects or plants. Furthermore, excess runoff from insecticides may also kill fish. 

Pollinator Decline: 

Insecticides can kill bees and may be a cause of pollinator decline. Loss of pollinators means a reduction in crop yields. Sublethal doses of insecticides have also been shown to affect bee foraging behavior.

Bird Decline:

Besides the effects of direct consumption of insecticides, populations of insectivorous birds decline due to the collapse of their prey populations. Spraying of especially wheat and corn in Europe is believed to have caused an 80 percent decline in flying insects. This, in turn, has reduced local bird populations by a third to two thirds.

How Is Natural Homemade Insecticide Better Than Traditional Insecticide? 

While on the other hand of all of this, organic pesticides focus on providing solutions and relief from various types of insects that cause massive damages to the plants being grown in a farm. These products are made of natural materials that have properties of killing or keeping out pests from within the range of your planted field. Unlike the conventional pesticides that rely on convenience, these do require time and preparation in order to put up a successful battle.

Benefits of Homemade Insecticide

Below are some of the notable advantages you will gain from having homemade organic pesticides:

Inexpensive:

Making your own insecticide is actually cheaper than buying traditional insecticide at the store.

Risk-Free:

By knowing the ingredients of your homemade pesticide solution, you ensure that no harmful chemicals are being used. 

Non-Toxic: 

All natural homemade insecticide solutions are toxin free. Thus ensuring the health of your crop and your family. 

How to Make Your Own Natural Homemade Insecticide

Here are a few of our favorite natural homemade insecticide options. 

Oil Spray Insecticide:

A homemade insecticide made from vegetable oil mixed with a mild soap. This solution can have a devastating effect on certain troublesome insects, such as aphids, mites, and thrips.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • And 1 tablespoon of soap
  • 1 quart of water

To make a basic oil spray insecticide, mix 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of soap, cover and shake thoroughly. When ready to apply, add 2 teaspoons of the oil spray mix with 1 quart of water, shake thoroughly. Once finished shaking, spray directly on the surfaces of the plants which are being affected by the little pests. The oil coats the bodies of the insects, effectively suffocating them, as it blocks the pores through which they breathe.

Soap Spray Insecticide:

A very similar homemade pesticide to the oil spray is a soap spray, which is also effective for controlling mites, aphids, whiteflies, beetles, and other hungry little insects. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of mild soap
  • 1 quart of water

To make a basic soap spray insecticide, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of a mild liquid soap with 1 quart of water. Once mixed, spray the mixture directly on the infected surfaces of the plants. A soap spray insecticide works in a similar fashion as an oil spray pesticide and can be applied as necessary. Although it is recommended to apply it during the evenings or early mornings.

Neem Oil Insecticide:

An oil extracted from the seeds of the neem tree is a powerful natural insecticide, capable of disrupting the life cycle of insects at all stages of its life. Neem oil acts as a hormone disruptor and as an "antifeedant" for insects that feed on leaves and other plant parts. Neem oil is biodegradable and is nontoxic to pets, birds, fish, and other wildlife. It is also effective against a variety of common garden insect pests, as well as being a natural fungicide. It can even combat powder mildew and other fungal infections on plants. And luckily, it can be found at many garden stores or natural foods markets. 

Ingredients: 
  • 2 teaspoons neem oil
  • 1 teaspoon mild soap
  • 1 quart of water

Start with a basic mixture of 2 teaspoons neem oil and 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap shaken thoroughly with 1 quart of water. Once mixed, spray the solution on the affected plant foliage. Neem oil can also be used preventatively by spraying the leaves of plants that are often ravaged by pests before they're actually infested.

Diatomaceous Earth as a Natural Pesticide:

This natural substance is made from a sedimentary rock created by fossilized algae. Diatomaceous earth has a number of uses in and around the home. With one of these uses being a natural insecticide. This material works not by poisoning or smothering the insects, but instead by virtue of its abrasive qualities and its affinity for absorbing the lipids (a waxy substance) from insects' exoskeleton. This absorption basically dehydrates small insects to death. Diatomaceous earth is often available at garden stores. To apply, simply dust the ground around your plants, or even sprinkle it on the foliage, where it will help control snails and slugs as well as other crawling insects. Due to its dried nature, in order to be an effective natural pesticide, the diatomaceous earth needs to be reapplied after every rain.

Garlic Insecticide Spray:

Garlic is well-known for its pungent aroma. Fortunately, this strong scent comes into play when used as a natural insecticide. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1-quart jar
  • 2 whole bulbs
  • 1 quart of water
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of mild soap

To make a basic garlic spray, take 2 whole bulbs and puree them in a blender or food processor with the water. Let the mixture sit overnight, then strain it into a quart jar. Add the vegetable oil, soap, and water. Add enough water to fill the jar 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap, and enough water to fill the jar. To use this homemade insecticide, use 1 cup of mixture with 1 quart of water and spray liberally on infested plants.

All-In-One Homemade Insecticide Spray:

This is kind of a shotgun approach to natural homemade insecticides.

Ingredients:
  • Use 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • And 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid soap

To make it, puree 1 bulb of garlic and 1 small onion, add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder and let steep for an hour. Strain the mixture and add 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and mix well. To apply this homemade insecticide, spray it full-strength onto both the upper surface of the leaves, as well as the undersides, and store the remainder in the refrigerator for up to a week if desired.

Conclusion

And here we are, the end of the article. Let’s recap on what we have learned. Traditional chemical insecticides are bad for the environment and to those who consume them. Organic insecticides are a better option and are growing in popularity. And natural homemade insecticides are probably the best option for personal gardening. So let's do something about this. Instead of going out and buying some traditional insecticide next time you need to spray your garden, consider a more natural option. As always, if a lot of people do a little, big things will happen. 

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Tyler Farr
 

Tyler is an energetic nature enthusiast who is currently considering moving into a tiny house. Tyler and his wife enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, and doing anything in the great outdoors. He hopes that the articles he writes will help others learn how important it is to take care of the environment.

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