COMBAT BUGS: NEEM!


Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. – May Sarton

One of the main problems  every gardener has to contend with are bugs.  We have grown accustomed to using insecticides and fungicides in this society for “instant results for the removal of such problems.   However, a true gardener knows that nothing in Nature  works instantly.  Gardening is indeed “an instrument of grace. ”

If you want to combat bugs do it the natural way (in addition to beneficial insects “Natural Pest Management”   “Return of the Manti”) with neem oil.  Pure neem oil is needed to effectively do the job properly.   When mixed with  soap as an emulsifier it can be sprayed on plants.  Oftentimes, inexperienced gardeners think neem does not work because it doesn’t kill the bugs instantly.  That is because it works on a different principle from chemical insecticides which are poisonous and, thus,  immediate.

The following is taken from “Discover Neem”   Read the whole article for some valuable information for combating bugs in your garden.

How neem oil messes with the insects’ brains and bodies

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 and beneficial insects

Neem is non toxic for beneficial insects. The main reason is that insects need to ingest the neem oil to be affected, and beneficial insects don’t eat your plants. But you can still kill beneficial insects if you smother them with neem oil, so please be careful.

Beneficial insects are most active during the day. The best time to spray neem insecticide is very early in the morning, so the spray can dry before the good insects become active. Also a good time is the late afternoon or evening. Once the spray has dried it does not harm your bees, ladybugs, lacewings, predatory mites and wasps.

Does spraying neem harm beneficial insect?

Please only use neem spray in the very early morning or late afternoon, or you may hurt beneficial insects. Neem oil is not toxic to them, but it can suffocate them if you spray them directly and the soap can hurt them too.

You should only spray neem at times when insects are not active. Once the spray has dried it is not harmful to good insects any more, only to sucking and chewing

How safe is the neem spray for yourself?

Totally safe. There is no need for protective clothing or anything like that. You can even use neem oil spray on yourself! People use the more concentrated mixtures as a safe and natural insect repellent. It’s much better for you than the harmful DEET. Not only that, it is actually good for your skin. Really.

More answers to your questions can be found here

If your are interested in trying out neem oil, you can find it here  at a very good price.  Most orders can be shipped free if they are $20 or more..  If you  are a first time purchaser from iherb.com, you can use our code JUL275 for a $5 OFF your first purchase.

Additionally, some recommend Dr. Bronner’s soap (also at iherb)   and neem oil mix (Homemade Insecticidal Soap)

How do you Battle Bad Bugs naturally at your farm or garden?

Comments(16)

  1. You Can Call Me Jane says

    Our biggest pest problem: potato bugs. We pay our kids 5 cents a bug to pick them off the plants and either feed them to the chickens or kill them. I appreciate your article- some of our smaller pests are too hard to pick off. I may have to give neem oil a try:-).

    • Shelby L'Rae says

      Hey! That’s a great “paid chore” idea! I’ll definitely have to keep that in mind.

  2. Lori says

    I’ll have to try this on our beans. We have BIG problems with bugs demolishing the plants. I hate to spray them with 7 spray but its the only thing I’ve found to kill them. Our youngest girl whose 4 loves to help in the garden and I don’t like her around that toxic stuff.

  3. Nancy says

    You can use this on chickens as well. When the weather warms up and its time for their spring bath, they get a final spray with Neem, around the vent and under the feathers, to combat lice.

  4. Dan Halsey says

    So I a, baffled why you have a carnivorous Lady Beetle as an example of bad bugs. I though this was going to be about bio-controls. This looks like a 7 Spotted Lady Beetle, one of our predators of aphids. It is a natural biocontrol agent protecting Wheat, Alfalfa, and Corn.

    • Jordanne says

      The photo was only used because it was pretty. The Lady Beetle obviously doesn’t represent bad bugs — but a bad-bug combatant. It is not an example but is merely a photo that we took in our garden and like, that is all. 🙂

      • Shelby L'Rae says

        I think it’s gorgeous! 🙂

        Perfect example of a natural pesticide: a ladybug!

  5. Shelby L'Rae says

    Love this post! Now I’m sold out to neem oil. I’d heard of it before, but a friend had discouraged use because he said it smelled funny. He’s not exactly passionate about *organic* gardening, though, so I was hoping to get a second opinion.

    What I especially love about this post is the explanation of how it works. Helps to know it’s not snake oil.

    Do you think using it on one’s skin might protect against mosquitoes? Any ideas for that? Them be nasty critters where we live. I’m trying to become tolerant of them so that I won’t be scared away from the yard this summer but it’s still a wee bit difficult, especially when they attack my face… and I’m fighting the petition to fog our backyard for the sake of my organic garden. At the end of the day, I might just have to listen to the lecture passed down from our community’s foremother, Jane Long:

    “If ya can’t stand the bite of a lil’ skeeter, ya ain’t got no business bein’ a pioneer!”

    • Jenny says

      Have you tried eating garlic to combat the mosquitoes? We have friends that were missionaries for years in Panama, and did not want to be on medication to ward off malaria for such an extended time. They all ate lots of garlic and did well.

  6. Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead says

    Haven’t try that yet in our garden, all we have tried is the fertilizers. Thanks for the information, it will help us a lot in the near future. I actually host a weekly gardening link up every Friday on my blog. I’d love for you to drop by and join in

  7. Maya Sanchez says

    I’ve been using Neem Oil for a couple of years now but I’ve done according to instruction and mixed with soap. What is the method of application when using pure Neem Oil? I’d love to try your method but am a bit confused as to how you apply.

  8. LA gardener says

    I have heard about Neem for years but have not tried it yet because I wasn’t sure if it was truly a good organic way to combat “bad” bugs. How do you manage squash vine borer, or do you? We don’t use pesticides in our garden and last year we lost all our zucchini and then yellow squash plants. I have used dipel dust in the past, but recently heard that Bt is not as “safe” or “organic” as some people would represent. Suggestions?

  9. Theresa Palmer Texas Hot Tamale's Garden - You tube says

    Just found your site and this article … I have a question about how you mix neem oil with soap… I read on my neem oil concentrate to mix 1 Tbs or 2 TBS per gallon. I use a small hand held sprayer and mix less. I am now on a weekly neem schedule… Sunday is my day or rest and neem. Are you talking about insecticidal soap? And also how much Insecticial Soap should I use? Thank you

  10. GreeNeem says

    I have used and i must say for the first time it was wonderful.

  11. Hana says

    Thanks for sharing these useful information! This is really interesting information for me.

  12. Christina Ashrafkhorasani says

    Thank you SO much for this! We are a vegan family, even our dog is vegan! And this is the 3rd year of trying to grow our own vegetables, however slugs, snails and insects have taken over again, and just when I was about to quit, I watched your video. How much neem oil and soap should I use? (Ratio) ? Also I have only hand soap, will that work?
    Thank you so much for your time, and love. You have encouraged me to keep going,
    God Bless You
    Christina

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