Organic pesticide options are available for those who wish to reduce the use of chemical- based pest solutions. Always check to see if any organic compound will harm other plants or animals. Unlike chemicals, where the bugs fall away after spraying, some organics are slow acting; so don't always expect instant gratification.
Organics can be slightly more expensive and because of the absence of chemicals, may require more frequent applications. Remember, even though a pesticide is considered acceptable to organic gardeners, it isn't necessarily safe for humans. Some organic compounds may be toxic and dangerous to mammals, fish, birds, bees and other beneficial insects.
Here's a brief list of the most common organic pesticides:
Also called Bt. This bacteria kills insects in their larval stage (such as caterpillars). The are several strains to choose from, depending on the pest you wish to control. It must be ingested by the pest to work. Bt is harmless to virtually all other creatures.
A mixture of copper sulfate and hydrated lime, Bordeaux mix can be applied as a wettable powder or dust to control disease.
Oils are extracted from spices and fruits and then combined to deal with pests. They pose no danger to people or pets.
The crushed exoskeletons of microscopic marine and freshwater organisms are harmless to almost all living creatures. The exceptions are soft-bodied pests. The particles of earth are like microscopic bits of broken glass that scratch, tear and destroy the bodies of the pests. Although this product is very safe, the dust can be hazardous so use a mask when applying.
Horticultural Oil Sprays
These are light petroleum-based oils used to control fungus and pests. The target plant must be soaked for effective treatment. Toxicity is low, but may irritate skin or eyes.
A virtually nontoxic mixture of soap, oil and water used to deal with soft-bodied insects. Plants must be thoroughly soaked in order for soaps to be effective. Do not use household soaps on plants.
A bacteria that attacks Japanese beetles in their larval stage. Milky spore is nontoxic to other organisms and once established in the soil, it lasts for years.
Oil extracted from the tropical neem tree that has low toxicity rate. However, when mixed with water, neem is used as an insecticide, fungicide and miticide.
Extracted from a variety of chrysanthemums, this compound can be used on a large variety of insects. Don't confuse these with pyrethoids, which are powerful synthetic versions and should only be handled by commercial users.
Sulfur and Lime-Sulfur
Inorganic, non-chemical elements that are used to control mites and some foliar diseases.