Organic pesticides vary greatly in material and mode of action. Examples of natural pesticides include oil for insect suffocation, bacteria lethal only to a specific insect, microscopically sharp substances to lacerate soft-bodied insect causing desiccation, natural substances that interfere with insect functioning and interrupts the life cycle, or benign substances like soap that kill certain insects.
There is a concern that the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genetically engineered into GMO corn, which is killing monarch butterflies and other beneficial insects, is the same Bt that organic gardeners have used for years. This is not true! The Bt sprays that we sell contain Bt bacteria spores that are naturally encapsulated in a matrix that allows the toxin of the Bt to be released only when it is ingested by an organism with an alkaline pH gut, including the targeted Lepidoptera order. Although monarch butterflies belong to the Lepidoptera order, organic gardeners only spray Bt on specific crops, such as tomatoes, that are not normally food for wild butterflies. (Monarch butterflies specifically need milkweed.) Also, the Bt sprays that we sell degrade quickly in sunlight, so even if a butterfly consumed the recently sprayed pollen of a tomato, there would only be a few days when it might consume the active Bt. By far the most-used biologicals are Bts. Bt is a naturally occurring bacteria with many powerful insect-specific strains. Like other biologicals, Bts biodegrade in sunlight and may require reapplication. Bt for Caterpillars & Worms: Safe for the user and the environment, Bacillus thuringiensis v. kurstaki is a pest control mainstay for organic vegetable growers. This bacteria is highly effective against most species of leaf-feeding moth & butterfly (Lepidoptera) larvae.
“Biologicals” are naturally-occurring insecticidal organisms, usually bacteria, which attack only specific pests. Biologicals are and always have been central to organic pest control because they are highly effective, insect-specific, biodegradable and non-toxic to humans, animals, beneficial insects and the environment. They will not cause secondary pest outbreaks. Biologicals are the foremost organic choice for control of many pests, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers, fungus gnats, fire blight, and more. Biologicals work best if the pH of your spray water is between 5 and 6 and if they are applied in early morning or late afternoon. The addition of a spreader/sticker such as NuFilm (see Foliar Spray Enhancers) will significantly extend the life of many biologicals such as Bt. However, they are still short-lived in sunlight and may require reapplication under heavy pest pressure.
Made from plants which are shown to have pesticide qualities. Generally, some of these materials, while safer to the user and the environment than chemical pest controls, are very strong and should be used as a last resort. Used inappropriately, these stronger botanicals, like rotenone, pyrethrin and sabadilla, can cause more trouble than they relieve by upsetting your biological balance and triggering secondary pest outbreaks. For severe or transitional situations they can be fully warranted on a temporary basis. Use a respirator, protective clothing and follow the label instructions exactly.
Similar to Biological Nematicides, but these contain botanical extracts that protect plants from pathogenic nematodes in the soil. Multiple applications and use of more than 1 product may be required for adequate control. Botanical Nematicides can also negatively affect beneficial nematodes that live in your soil, so use nematicides with care.
This botanical insecticide is extracted from the seed of the tropical neem tree. The active ingredient, Azadirachtin, repels, prevents molting and suppresses feeding. Does not harm humans, birds, plants, or earthworms. Neem has been used for centuries against aphids, whiteflies, thrips, hornworms, leafminers, gypsy moths, weevils, webworms, loopers, sawflies and more. Neem is most effective against insects which pass through all stages of metamorphosis. Use as a last resort, Neem extract can harm beneficial insects.
Neem Oil: Broad Spectrum Insecticide/Miticide
A unique broad spectrum pesticide which acts as an insecticide, fungicide, and miticide. As fungicides, they are most effective when used as a preventative or when disease pressure is light. Works by coating plant surfaces, therefore preventing fungal spore germination and killing external fungi on leaf surfaces. Thorough coverage is important. As an insecticide/miticide, use when insect/mite pressure is light to moderate. Suffocates insects and mites on contact and is especially effective on whiteflies, aphids and other soft bodied insects. Also acts as a repellent. Since this product is an oil, it can also kill bees if they are exposed to direct treatment so we recommend applying this product when they are not visiting your plants.
Can be used as dormant oils, growing-season sprays or spray adjuvants for smothering such pests as overwintering scales, mites, aphids, and peach twig borer. May be unnecessary for most small scale users unless past experience has indicated a serious problem with these pests. There are many orchards which are doing well and have never been sprayed with oils. In commercial applications or serious pest outbreaks, the use of oils may prove necessary.
This broad-spectrum, contact-kill insecticide is an extract of the crushed dried flowers of Chrysanthemum cinerarifolium, a perennial daisy like plant from Kenya. Pyrethrin has at least 6 active insecticidal qualities. It is known for its unique “knock-down” quality which stuns flying insects, causing them to quickly fall to the ground. Pyrethrin is also called an “exciter’’ because it gets insects out of protected hiding spots by irritation, exposing them to predators and bringing them into contact with the spray. Insects have never developed resistance to it in over 100 years of use. Pyrethrin is used against a wide range of insects including ants, aphids, army worms, beetles (asparagus, blister, cucumber, Colorado potato, flea, Mexican bean), cabbage loopers, caterpillars, cockroaches, earwigs, fleas, flies, harlequin bugs, fruit flies, leafrollers, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, psyllids, thrips, ticks, whiteflies, & more. Pyrethrin is toxic to fish and has some ill effect on beneficials. However, for the user, it is far safer than chemicals and is one of the safest botanicals available. Quickly broken down in the sunlight, so it has a short residual in the field. For this reason it may require repeated applications. For maximum effect, apply in the evening or at night. Some, but not all, of our pyrethrin products are formulated with piperonyl butoxide (PBO). PBO is extracted from a Brazilian species of sassafras and is added as a synergist which increases the effectiveness of pyrethrins. CAUTION: Pyrethrum products containing PBO are not allowed under the NOP rules. All the pyrethrins in our products are 100% natural, not synthetic.
Nerve and stomach poison derived via fermentation from naturally occurring bacterium Saccharopolyspora spinosa. New chemistry represents an alternative to Bt for worm control and offers excellent control of targeted pests and low toxicity to nontarget organisms, including most beneficial insects. Low mammalian toxicity, helps conserve beneficials.