Are your plants being destroyed by creepy crawlies in the night? There is nothing more disheartening for a gardener than seeing their prize rose bush eaten to threads or their growing tomato plants die from bugs eating their leaves.
Even if you don’t want to use chemicals on your plants, you can keep the bugs away from destroying them with a few natural products. But first you need to figure out what kind of bug is doing the damage. Check out this infographic created by Safer Brand, a company that sells products for organic gardening, to figure out which bug is eating your plants.
4 Natural Ways to Stop Leaf-Eating Bugs
There are four main pest repelling or killing natural products: neem oil, insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, and B.T. You can also look up biological controls (other insects that eat the insects destroying your plants).
Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree. The oil has many uses from cosmetics to treating arthritis and, of course, to pest control.
Neem oil will reduce an insects need to eat, hence stopping them from eating your leaves. It also impacts their hormone system, which makes it harder to lay eggs. Sprayed consistently this means adult insects will die from not eating and no larvae or eggs will be created.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is often found in cosmetics as well. It is formed from fossilized phytoplankton called diatoms that reside in water. Once dry, the fossils are ground up into a powder and can be used for pest control along with many other products.
Diatomaceous earth’s sharp miniscule edges are harmless to humans but are deadly to insects with an exoskeleton. The powder works its way into the insect’s outer layer and scratches their bodies enough that it kills them from dehydration.
Insecticidal soap is made from potassium fatty acids (often found in many soaps). Unlike diatomaceous
earth, insecticidal soap affects soft-bodied insects. The insecticidal soap has to make direct contact with
the insect in order to be effective. The soap is able to kill soft-bodied bugs through suffocation.
Bacillus Thuringiensis (B.T.)
B.T. (bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki) is a natural soil-borne bacteria used to kill caterpillars. When worms and caterpillars eat B.T. it rots their gut forces the worm to stop feeding and die from starvation. These naturally-derived pest control options should always be used with caution to make sure it doesn’t kill any beneficial insects while getting rid of your pest problem. The best way to do that is by only applying the pest control to the leaves, not the blooms, and surrounding area around the plant at night, when most insects come out to eat.