Many pest insects can be dislodged with a burst of water or even killed using insecticidal soap without damaging the plants or the environment. Only kill bugs that are damaging plants. Most lawn insects do no damage, and several are garden superheroes known as beneficial insects. Beneficial bugs serve as vital pollinators or feed on the insects that damage plants. Killing bad little bugs without harming beneficial insects gives you allies for maintaining the invaders in check.
Blast Them Off
Sturdy plants, including people who have woody stems and a few bulbs, will withstand a strong spray from an adjustable hose nozzle. Direct the spray at the invading bugs and then blast them right from the plant. This works well on aphids and other tiny insects that damage plants. It’s also a good first step prior to applying a contact pesticide, such as insecticidal soap, because there will be fewer bugs left on the plant. Another option is to use a sponge saturated with water to gently wipe bugs off of plants that are tender, new development or buds.
Soap Them to Death
Insecticidal soaps targets bugs without damaging plants. They work by taking away the waxy protective coating on insects, causing them to dehydrate and die. Unlike many pesticides, insecticidal soap doesn’t produce poisonous runoff that harms wildlife and fish and it wo not leave toxic deposits in your garden fruit or vegetables. It’s also protected for honeybees. Ready-to-use sprays are convenient and require no mixing. Use soap spray from the early morning, after dusk or when it is cloudy, not when there’s sunlight on the plants. Because it must make contact with the bugs to kill them, spray it on all of the bugs you see, from the cover of the plant into its base, such as the undersides of leaves, on buds and branch tips. Spray again if more bugs arrive.
The Homemade Soap Spray Option
Commercial insecticidal soaps are safer for plants than homemade models, reports Jeff Gillman, author of “The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why .” If you would like to try making your own, keep it mild. Make a 1 percent soap alternative from 2 teaspoons of liquid dishwashing soap mixed in 1 gallon of water. Use a mild dish soap intended for washing dishes by hand, not detergent for dishwashers or laundry. Soap spray functions best on aphids, mealybugs, mites and other soft-bodied insects. As a bonus, dish soap also helps control powdery mildew, notes Gillman.
Evaluation Soap on a single Leaf
Be cautious when using homemade pest killer or even some other unknown item. A homemade soap spray may strip a plant’s protective cuticle. Without sunlight safety, the plant suffers leaf scorch, and becoming weakened by sunlight damage can kill the plant. If you attempt homemade soap spray, spray it on a single older leaf and check the leaf the next evening for damage. Rinse the leaf to remove the soap residue and pat it dry. If the leaf surface stays dull, the spray probably eliminated its protective shield. Produce a milder version and test it or purchase a commercial insecticidal soap.