Best organic pesticides?

rose_crazy(z5 MI)February 16, 2012

Alright question time again, lol. We've recently gotten a puppy and our raised bed gardens are in the same space as the dog yard. So I'm trying to find out what is the best organic all-purpose pesticide that is safe to use around pets? It needs to be effective for both veggies and fruit trees. Also are neem oil products safe to use anytime?

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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

White Sugar!!!!!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:59PM
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hoosierbanana

Have you had any specific pest problems in the past? By "all purpose" I assume you mean "broad spectrum", something that kills many different insects. Using those things willy nilly can send your little ecosystem into turmoil and require that you continue to apply more and more pesticides. If I had to pick one thing to use lots of around a puppy on plants it would be diatomaceous earth. Use DE on the puppy if it gets fleas even. But it will totally kill any arthropod including all the spiders wasps mantises bees etc. so only use it if you really, really have to. When you spot your first pests of the season wait and give the ladybugs a chance to find them, then they lay their eggs and you have crop insurance. But spray or dust right away and expect to need to repeat later when they return with a vengeance. Beneficial insects cannot live without the insects we consider pests and need time to increase their populations to handle infestations. Also I hate to point this out, but puppies are serious plant pests...

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:40AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I really hate to see DE broad cast around the yard. Not only is it a broad spectrum killer, but can be very long lasting, too.

It's wise to have a few things in your pesticide cabinet, for use on a pest by pest basis. I keep Neem (which can be used pretty much all year, but don't spray it on flowers when they are in bloom). I also have horticultural oil of one kind or another, insecticidal soap, and Surround. Plain tap water, straight from the hose might be my number one 'pesticide'.

All are recommended for organic gardens, even certified growers.

Careful ID of the pest(s) is important, as is a good knowledge of prevention and cultural practices that can be of great benefit.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:59AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Any substance meant to kill something is dangerous to other things, so the best thing to do is provide an environment where any insect pests you might have are controlled by other insects, birds, toads, snakes, etc. Organic pest control is a 5 step process, also known as Integrated Pest Control.
1. Determine what the real problem is.
2. Find what the least toxic method of control is.
3. Apply that least toxic means of control.
4. Evaluate. Did this solve the problem
5. Return to step 1 if necessary.
The link below takes you to an episode of Growing a Greener world about organic pest control that is very good.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing a Greener World 223

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 6:21AM
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Michael

I wouldn't attempt to cast such a broad net, so to speak. As pointed out above, first I.D. the causal agent, the "pest", be it disease or insect. With both disease and insects it is very good to learn as much as you can about them, I.E. their life cycles because controlling them both with the least effort and least toxic materials can very much be dependent on where the critters are in their life cycles. Basically, you want to get the critters when they are most susceptible. A good example for apple scab is spraying copper around green tip or just before (depending on the product) to largely eliminate last year's overwintering spores. If those spores are killed early, the primary scab won't be a problem and you won't have to be battling secondary scab the rest of the year, whoopee! If a dormant oil is included in the copper mix you'll be getting any overwintering scale if you have that problem.

I've learned to scout my trees closely before doing any dormant spraying as every year there at least a few overwintering preying mantis cases present on the trees, they get covered completely with plastic to keep the spray off and then the plastic is removed.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 11:08AM
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maplerbirch(4)

Since we're looking for specifics, I'd like to ask about the Potato bug. Is there a decent control for that yet?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:16PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Notice my answer was the shortest, it is because it works!!!!!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:54PM
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bi11me(5b)

I side with those who favor a specific, targeted approach. Broad spectrum pesticides often do more harm than good, and are to me somewhat contrary to the principles of organic gardening in the first place. Severe insect infestations are usually indicative of other problems, which cause plants to be weakened and vulnerable to attack.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 4:21PM
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gargwarb

Pie.

You know that pie is a top notch insecticide because it's a very short word.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 5:59PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"Pie.
You know that pie is a top notch insecticide because it's a very short word."

I hate to say this but it is USDA proven. ;)

"The synthetic sugar kills from the inside out. Once it gets through small holes in an insect's hard, protective exoskeleton, the extra chemical group - called an ester - causes the insect to lose water, shrivel, and die of dehydration."

Source: www.livescience.com/3856-sugar-sweet.htmlCached

But don't take my word for it. :)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 9:18PM
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bi11me(5b)

I happen to know for a fact that ants like pie as much as I.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 9:44PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

maplerbirch, you asked about Potato Bugs. Do you mean the Colorado Potato Beetle or the roly poly, pill bug, sow bug, the wee relative of the lobster that dwells in cool, moist places of the garden?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 6:27AM
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maplerbirch(4)

Posted by kimmsr 4a/5b-MI (My Page) on Sat, Feb 18, 12 at 6:27

maplerbirch, you asked about Potato Bugs. Do you mean the Colorado Potato Beetle or the roly poly, pill bug, sow bug, the wee relative of the lobster that dwells in cool, moist places of the garden?

The leaf eaters. I believe it is the CPB.

Neem, is just to expensive to spray all that foliage, so I was wondering if there was a better way.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 9:50AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"so I was wondering if there was a better way"

It could not be white sugar?????????? I wonder???

I hate to say this but it is USDA proven. ;)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 10:47AM
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rose_crazy(z5 MI)

Ok, for specifics : Cabbage butterflies on the brassicas, codling moths on the apple tree, and last year we were overrun wit rose chaffers on everything. Potentially adding blueberry bushes this year and want to protect them as well. Also we have newly planted peach and european plum trees.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:03PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Themastergardener1: Fancy seeing you here! Last I heard from you on the container forum, you promised not to post any more goofy ideas until you actually planted something and could show us a photo to prove it. It's funny how you go from forum to forum making suggestions that seem designed to irritate the regulars. Like asking folks in the hydroponics forum how to check the pH of peat or promoting white sugar to organic growers who are likely to consider it a poison.

Back to the topic of this discussion, I found spinosad to be pretty effective on Colorado potato beetles. If you catch them at the larval stage, you can alternate with BT.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:53PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"promoting white sugar to organic growers who are likely to consider it a poison." Is this a joke ;)

I think the USDA is trusted?

"During application it coats the leaf's surface with a solution which can get in the trachea of insects and suffocate them, particularly small insects," Gary Puterka of the USDA's Agricultural Research Center. "The other mechanism is disruption of the insect's cuticle, causing rapid water loss." "

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 9:39PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

maplerbirch, The best control for the Colorado Potato Beetle is Bacillus thuringiensis - Israelensis.
Rose_Crazy, for your cabbage pests Bacillus thuringiensis, Kurstaki works. The Codling Moths a dormant oil spray, followed with traps during the fruiting season. For the
Rose Chafers if Neem oil products don't work you may need to resort to a pyrethrin based spray.
Those are short term methods of control, long term is to look at the soil these plants are growing in to be sure it is a good healthy soil that can help your plants grow strong and heatlhy and be better able to ward off these insects. With the exception of the BTs most all insecticides, even organic ones and including white sugar, are broad spectrum poisons that can also harm the beneficial insects that could help control the pests.
Organic gardeners/farmers need to move away from the "let me grab something to spray" mentality of those that practice synthetic gardening/farming and look at the why are there these insects eating my plants and what do I need to change to get them to stop mind set. Granted it is much easiewr to grab a poison and spray it around, but those poisons do great ecological harm and not to just the target insects.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 6:39AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Row covers work very well for excluding cabbage loopers, CPB and many other pest insects.

I find getting soils healthy, not spraying any insecticides and encouraging beneficial insects works extremely well in my market garden. Hand picking, keep grass and weeds cut short, cultivation also work wonders

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 7:19AM
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maplerbirch(4)

Thanks for the ideas for the CPB. I may be able to apply row cover to some of the garden, but I am also going to do the Bt.

A questiion about the granulated sugar being a braodspectrum poison to exoskeletons.
If it is sprayed onto the potato leaf, would it only kill those who eat the potato leaf?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 8:07AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

The USDA was experimenting with using a chemical extract of sugar esters according to the article quoted above. If you have access to a lab that can succeed where they have not, you might try that extract. But if you just shake white sugar all over your garden you will only be inviting ants and their aphid herds to the feast.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 9:18AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"The USDA was experimenting with using a chemical extract of sugar esters according to the article quoted above. If you have access to a lab that can succeed where they have not, you might try that extract. But if you just shake white sugar all over your garden you will only be inviting ants and their aphid herds to the feast."

It is not just the USDA. It is a long practice in many regions including Jamaica.

Found this just looking up the "The Many Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide". By Dr. David G. Williams

"(It can also be made into an excellent safe insecticide. Simply spray your plants with 8 ounces of 3% peroxide mixed with 8 ounces of white sugar and one gallon of water.)"

A invidual from Jamaica only uses sugar no peroxide, not to think the sugar is used to help the peroxide stick. The sugar kills the insect (smaller ones) by hardening the xoskeleton.

I think sugar would be too expensive to consider a pestiside unless you get it for free, like the individual from Jamaica I know did.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 12:42PM
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willylynn

I could be wrong here and please correct me if I am. I was under the impression that apple cider vinegar was a good way to get rid of insects,flies, gnats, mosquitoes, etc.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 2:04PM
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victorine72(7a)

I used to use a lot of the hardcore pesticides until I tried Neem oil about seven years ago. Works like a charm on spider mites, aphids etc, and as long as you spray the plants every two weeks or so, it will also control most fungal infections. Now, it's pretty much the only insecticide/fungicide I use. I buy the pure oil by the gallon(organneem.com, I think)-- much more economical than the small, pre-mixed bottles they sell at garden centers. We've had a very mild, wet winter here in VA, and I've used it already this year to get some powdery mildew on my euonymus under control.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 5:22PM
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Jon_dear(4/5)

Believe it or not, plain cornmeal from your pantry will kill Colorado potato beetles. Sprinkle generously on your potato plants and when they feed, they ingest it and it swells in their gut and kills them. It also gives some nitrogen too. I did this last year, a little late. This year I'll see if it will do anything to the pupae.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 8:21PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The corn meal myth, along with many others, appears every year and that peoploe still believe it is amazing. Jeff Gillman, phD Horticultural Sciences, professor of Horticulture at the University of Minnesota, has a new book out about pest and plant disease control where he suggests that milk is one of the best disease controls and getting your soil into a good healthy condition will do more to control insect pests then anything else.
The key to growing better plants for any organic gardener/farmer is to make the soil the plants grow in good and healthy so the plants grow strong and healthy. Not buying into myths about these things helps as well.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 6:34AM
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Jon_dear(4/5)

So what killed the dead CPB's laying all around the plants? Did they die of old age?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 4:42PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Jon, do you have any idea of the average lifespan of a Colorado Potato Beetle? Insects do not live for months for the most part, they hatch, grow, mate, lay eggs for the next generation, and die for the most par, often in 30 days. Yours may well have died of old age.
The goal of any organic gardener/farmer should be to grow plants that can resist attack by insect pests and plant diseases and that means knowing your soil, the soils pH and nutrient levels and working to keep them in balance. ie. making a good, healthy soil so your plants will grow up strong and healthy.
Understanding insects and plant diseases, how they live and die, and what it takes to keep them under control (not eliminate them), and what to use, if necessary, to help plants better resist them, is part of organic gardening/farming. Simply spraying stuff around is an extension of those that practice the wrong type of gardening/farming, what is known as "conventional" gardening.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 7:15AM
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Michael

Rosecrazy: I have a very effective way of dealing with the dreaded CM on apple but it is not yet perfect in one respect, but first the good stuff.

Hang a CM pheromone trap in your trees to monitor for the presence of females, no females, no problem....YET. When the fruit get to about dime to quarter size, bag them with Ziplock baggies which have been prepared by cutting the 2 bottom corners out and a notch for them stem cut out. Prior to bagging, if the females are present you must deal with them, sorry to say I've been using not organic insecticides but am planning to go with Surround this year. Once the fruit are protected in the bags, you won't have any egg laying going on on your fruit and the bags will hang on till you're ready to harvest. BTW, your neighbors might think you're nuts, mine do but that's because I also put those panty hose sockies on my peaches to keep the OFMs off the peaches and keep me from having to spray for those darned critters, works great!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:21PM
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willylynn

How is the method that Michael posted working to get rid of mosquitoes?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:04AM
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jolj(7b/8a)

I have little problem with bugs, tomato horn worm is the worse offender & I hand pick all 30-40 plants.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:17PM
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annpatt

Organic beekeepers sprinkle sugar on their bees if they have a varroa mite problem. The bees then groom the sugar (and the mites) off themselves.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:51AM
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Heater-Issue

Hi there. I have a potted strawberry plant sitting on my deck and would like to bring it in for the winter. But I was told to spray it before I brought it in the house as to not bring in unwanted insects. I'm allergic to DE (diatonatious earth) and I saw sugar as a way but I thought sugar killed plants like silver dollars and other annoying weeds. And spiders don't like mint so thats easy natural pesticide. I was wondering if there was something else I could use that won't kill my plant and just drive off the insects before I brought it in for the winter.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 8:46PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

A good shower with just plain water works quite well.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 6:43AM
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Heater-Issue

Does rain count as a good shower? LoL. Or should I wait for a sunny that way the bugs can run for dry cover?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 12:32PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Nope, because rain would not get under the leaves where those bugs can hide, and is not usually forceful enough to dislodge them.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 5:56AM
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peter_6

With reference to Colorado beetles, in my experience the best approach is to scout the plants for beetles every two or three days and squish them. Start early because the adults emerge first and they're not too bad, but they produce lots of young which do the worst damage. I don't use a pesticide because the beetles are cleverer than I am; potatoes and their predecessor species have been developing pesticides for, say, 500,000 years. The beetles have overcome these pesticides one by one in a sort of arms race. Where potatoes are grown in bulk, including parts of Michigan, Colorado beetles have overcome every pesticide tried on them; the more they are challenged, the more they develop resistance. It's not surprising that the beetles can overcome artificial pesticides developed these last 50 years. So I don't bother with pesticides and I squish 'em. For more species of insect pests, the most useful are the umpteen species of minute wasps, ranging from 1/10 inch to 1/50 inch long. You never see them but they do great work parasitizing pest insect eggs and larvae. The best way to encourage them is to grow the small-flower plants they like most. #1 is boneset, #2 is sweet alyssum, and somewhere in the top ten is Riddell's goldenrod. This is a slow solution. Similarly, doing ones best not to harm those black ground beetles is the slow-but-sure answer to slugs. Flee beetles on eggplant and brassicas, however, can only be stopped by using row covers on immature plants, which doesn't get rid of the beetles of course. So my advice is to think long term and hold off on the pesticides which, after all, kill as many beneficial insects as they do pests. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2014 at 8:07PM
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greenbean_2011

I have had good success with Dee Dee Bug.

The manufacturer lists it as an all natural "bug deterrent".

I had a problem with cabbage worms so I thought I would give it a try. Let me tell you, those worms hate this stuff lol.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dee Dee Bug

    Bookmark   October 16, 2014 at 11:02AM
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