Beekissed

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Didn't see a thread about them in a search here, so thought I'd make one. I've never really used many insecticides on the garden or orchard, though I've been known to use sweet lime dust on taters or cukes for keeping off certain pests and I once tried a soapy water spray.

Other than that, I've not had the need for any kind of insecticide....until last year, when I saw more numbers and kinds of squash bugs than I've ever seen, not to mention hoards of Japanese beetles that decimated my apple tree saplings leaves, squash borers and horn worms. Seemed like they all came out for the buffet last year. :th Not to mention the blight that swept across the garden to affect tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and squash.

This year I purchased some concentrated Neem oil(around $10 for a bottle of concentrated liquid which, according to the dilution ratios, I'll be able to use for years upon years before using it all up) and am going to do some preventative applications, as well as as needed for pests. Did some reading up on it and was pretty impressed with the effectiveness, the lack of damage to beneficial insects, and that it is dual purpose, taking care of insects and fungal spores also.

http://www.discoverneem.com/neem-oil-insecticide.html
http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/neemgen.html
Neem oil has many complex active ingredients. Rather than being simple poisons, those ingredients are similar to the hormones that insects produce. Insects take up the neem oil ingredients just like natural hormones.


Neem enters the system and blocks the real hormones from working properly. Insects "forget" to eat, to mate, or they stop laying eggs. Some forget that they can fly. If eggs are produced they don't hatch, or the larvae don't moult.


Obviously insects that are too confused to eat or breed will not survive. The population eventually plummets, and they disappear. The cycle is broken.


How precisely it works is difficult for scientists to find out. There are too many different active substances in neem oil and every insect species reacts differently to neem insecticide.


Neem oil does not hurt beneficial insects. Only chewing and sucking insects are affected. It is certainly fascinating.


Like real hormones, neem works at very low concentrations, in the parts per million range. A little neem oil goes a long way.

But this is not something that happens over night. People spray neem oil as an insecticide and expect everything to die instantly, because that's what they are used to from chemical poisons. When that does not happen they conclude neem does not work.

It does work! Give it time to work. It's a much smarter way to deal with insect pests than to just kill everything.


It looks like Neem is going to be my go-to hard core insecticide this year...well...as hard core as I get with such a thing. ;) I've used it once so far and it seems to be having the desired affect on the Jap beetles and the flea beetles. I'm hoping it will deter the squash borers as well. I'm not going to go overboard and coat everything with Neem all season, but I did give all the likely suspects~spuds, bean, squash, maters, honeysuckle and roses a spraying of it the other day...the tomatoes were sprayed to try and prevent blight issues this year, said it works best for that if sprayed BEFORE the fungal infection symptoms start to show.

Folks even use this stuff on their chickens for mite treatment, so not a bad product from what I've read.

I'd love to hear anyone's experiences with this insecticide, as well as any other more natural insecticides they have used~I lean in that direction, but please also post about your chosen pest control agents as well. I know the use of insecticides and fungicides can be a pretty controversial topic on here, so I encourage folks to keep it light and informational if they can.
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AMKuska

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Its funny you mention neem oil, I just got some for my garden. :) I haven't tried it yet, but I squished a ton of cabbage moth caterpillars eating my broccoli starts, so I guess I'll be getting out there to spray Sunday.
 

Ridgerunner

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Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly called BT, is an organic pesticide that gives the bad boys a belly ache. It takes a couple of days to kill them but they stop eating in a few hours after eating it. Since it is biological, you have to be careful how you store it. You don't want to kill it in storage. It breaks down pretty fast in sunlight so it's best to use it in the evening so they have all night to eat it.

The beauty of BT is that it is very target specific. You have to get the one that kills what you are going after. The most common one kills caterpillars of moths and butterflies, nothing but caterpillars. If a bird eats the caterpillar it won't hurt the bird. That's what I use for those cabbage worms.

I use another one for mosquito larva in my water barrels. That's called "dunks" at the garden center. This type does not work on caterpillars, just mosquito and gnat larva. As I said, very target specific. I think there are a couple more out there but these are the common ones.
 

digitS'

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It's good that you have included those cautions from Oregon State University, Bee'.

Here's one on animals: In other countries, neem oil has been used on cats for flea control. Some adverse reactions have been reported. Symptoms include feeling sluggish, excessive salivation, impaired movement, trembling, twitching, and convulsions. Some of the cats died. However, most of them recovered within 1 to 5 days.

And: Neem oil can be slightly irritating to the eyes and skin. Azadirachtin, a component of neem oil, can be very irritating to the skin and stomach.

Okay, the first time I used Neem the growing season was well advanced and some of my plants were quite tall. I remember that problems were fairly minor but there was both aphids and mildew that I was trying to control. Because I was brushing against some of the plants, I had spray on my arms by the time I finished. The result was an unpleasant, burning rash that lasted several days.

The effectiveness against the aphids and mildew was so limited that both were worse inside of a week. The Neem was left on the shelf for several years after that. Reading about @hoodat 's experiences here on TEG encouraged me to try it again.

I had Brussels sprouts that year. Talk about your aphid magnet! Wow. For a critter that has trouble flying 100 yards, those things have sure covered the Earth's landscape! Anyway, I showed up one morning with the Neem and sprayed one plant ... the sun came out in the afternoon ... no, I didn't kill it! But, that plant must have lost 3 weeks as it recovered and grew the sprouts. Finally ... sure, dead aphids.

Next post, I will tell you what I have continued to use and what is also in my quiver to suppress the exploiters. I'll start by saying: Neem. But, I only spray it late in the day!!

Steve
 

digitS'

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Neem and insecticidal soaps are contact sprays so anywhere something like an aphid is sucking the life out of a leaf, the spray has to hit it. I don't trust dishwashing soap, especially. I will return to wash it off the plants after 12 hours or so with fresh water. BTW, Neem doesn't wash off so well but if I don't treat it like it is some kind of plant suntan oil :rolleyes:, the plants have done okay with it the last few years.

There was a Bt beetle spray several years ago. Colorado potato beetles are everywhere on cultivated land around here because they live on the nightshade weeds. They also want to live on my eggplant, especially :eek:! Potatoes, tomatoes ... the Bt for them was discontinued. It was a GMO product and not acceptable for organic growing! Luckily, I soon discovered Spinosad. It is a "biological" like the Bt for caterpillars, mosquitoes and such (which are non-GMO & still on the market).

I've been using Spinosad for several years against the potato bugs and cabbage caterpillars aaand flea beetles ... I sure hope it continues to be effective.

Flea beetles are very mobile and might just decide to leave rather than be sprayed with and eat any Spinosad, which is the trap I'm intending with that spray. Of course, flea beetles are happy to eat the radish in the next row over, or the broccoli, or tomato leaves!

Cucumber beetles and stink bugs are mobile in that they are very interested in hiding when their enemy with the sprayer shows up! They seem to especially like summer squash. Squash are big plants with big leaves; it's tuff to move those leaves around and search out those pesky beetles.

I'll try with the Spinosad but hoping that the flea, stink and cucumber beetles don't just move next door and ignore my expensive spray is just hope. I'll use it but I've got a 1:2 punch with Pyrethrum to start. If they are still around after that Pyrethrum punch, I can hit them in a few days with the Spinosad.

Pyrethrum is a nerve insecticide. It, or a synthetic version, is used as a fumigate indoors for fleas and cockroaches. Missing them with the spray while they hide under leaves won't necessarily save garden pests. It isn't highly effective since an insect might wake up from Pyrethrum and go back to chewing on the plant. However, I just might be back with the sprayer while that bug is trying to regain its strength.

Steve
 
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