Making your own natural insecticide at home is an easy and effective way to get rid of pests in your garden without using harsh chemicals. There are several simple recipes using common household ingredients that can be just as powerful as commercial products. The key benefits of homemade insecticide are avoiding toxins, saving money, and customizing the spray for your specific needs.
Why Make Your Own Insecticide
There are a few key reasons why making homemade insecticide is preferable to buying commercial products:
Avoid toxins – Most commercial insecticides contain chemicals like pyrethroids, organophosphates, and carbamates that can be harmful to humans, pets, beneficial insects like bees, and the environment if used improperly. Homemade sprays use natural ingredients like essential oils, soap, and plant extracts.
Save money – Making your own natural insecticide costs just a fraction of what commercial products cost. Recipes only require a few inexpensive ingredients most people already have at home.
Customize it – You can tweak homemade insecticide recipes to target specific pests bothering your plants. Commercial insecticides are broad spectrum and kill both bad and beneficial bugs.
Control ingredients – With homemade insecticide you know exactly what is being sprayed on your food crops. Commercial brands can contain “inert” undisclosed ingredients.
Effective Natural Insecticide Ingredients
The most common and effective ingredients to use in homemade insecticide sprays include:
Essential oils – Oils like peppermint, clove, thyme, and rosemary oil deter pests and kill larvae and eggs. Be sure to mix with a carrier oil or soap before spraying.
Dish soap – A small amount of dish soap mixed with water helps essential oils and plant extracts stick to and penetrate leaf surfaces. Avoid antibacterial soap.
Neem oil – Extracted from the neem tree, this oil disrupts insect reproduction and repels pests. It’s safe for beneficial insects at the right dilution.
Garlic – The sulfur compounds in garlic naturally deter insects. Chopped cloves can be soaked in water to create a spray. Garlic oil can also be used.
Chili pepper – Cayenne pepper, jalapeño, or other spicy chili peppers contain capsaicin which can repel and irritate soft-bodied pests. Mix with water to make a natural repellent spray.
Vinegar – White vinegar kills larvae and eggs and helps other substances stick to leaves. Use for cabbage worm control. Apple cider vinegar deters ants.
Vegetable oil – Plain old vegetable oil smothers and kills soft-bodied insects like aphids, mites, thrips, and whiteflies on contact.
Water – The main ingredient in any homemade spray is simply water. It helps dilute and distribute the active natural insecticide ingredients evenly over the plant surface.
5 Homemade Insecticide Recipes
With various combinations of the ingredients above, you can make simple but powerful homemade insecticide sprays:
All-Purpose Insecticide Spray
This easy homemade spray works on most soft-bodied garden pests:
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon dish soap
- Water to fill spray bottle
Mix the oil and soap together, then add water to fill a spray bottle. Shake before each use to emulsify the oil and water. Spray leaf undersides to coat pests with oil. The soap helps it stick.
Essential Oil Insecticide Spray
Essential oils give this spray natural pest killing power:
- 2 tablespoons essential oil like peppermint, clove, or rosemary
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dish soap
- Water to fill 1 liter spray bottle
Combine ingredients, close spray top and shake vigorously to mix. Spray directly on pests and leaf surfaces, especially under leaves. Works on aphids, whiteflies, mites, beetles, and caterpillars.
Neem Oil Insecticide Spray
Use neem oil’s natural pest control powers:
- 1/2 teaspoon neem oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dish soap
- 1 quart water
Mix neem oil and soap in a bucket first, then slowly add water. Transfer to a spray bottle. Spray infested leaves including undersides. Safe for fruits and vegetables close to harvest.
Chile Pepper Insecticide Spray
The capsaicin in hot peppers drives away many soft-bodied pests:
- 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 5 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon dish soap
- 1 quart water
Mix ingredients and let sit overnight. Strain out solids and transfer liquid to a spray bottle. Test on a few leaves first in case of plant sensitivity. Reapply after rain.
Vinegar Insecticide Spray
Vinegar dissolves the waxy coating on cabbage worms and other soft pests:
- 1 part white vinegar
- 1 part water
Simply mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Lightly spray leaves, especially under leaf veins where worms travel. Rinse off edible plants before eating.
Tips for Using Homemade Insecticide
Follow these tips when deploying homemade insecticides for maximum safety and effectiveness:
Test on a few leaves first to check for plant sensitivity before wide spraying.
Spray in the morning or evening when pollinators are less active to avoid harming beneficial insects.
Aim for undersides of leaves as that’s where most pests congregate and lay eggs.
Use a light misting spray for even coverage without runoff. Avoid heavy saturation.
Repeat applications may be needed as the spray washes off over time, especially after rain or watering.
Shake spray bottles frequently during use to keep active ingredients dispersed. Essential oils separate from water quickly.
Wear gloves and eye protection when mixing and spraying to avoid skin or eye irritation from active ingredients like peppers and acids.
Rinse edible plants thoroughly before eating if you used harsh ingredients like vinegar, garlic, or peppers in the spray.
With a little experimenting, you can find the right natural homemade insecticide recipe to protect your garden plants without using harsh chemicals. Always follow directions carefully and coat leaf surfaces evenly.