Are insects bugging your plants? Your typical line of attack may be picking up a pest control spray and going at ’em. But opting for a more natural insecticide will help you get rid of houseplant pests the eco-friendly way.
Instead of relying on pesticides, which can wreak havoc on the environment and threaten biodiversity, going the all-natural route allows you to keep your plants (and the planet) healthy and happy. The best part? You can get rid of fungus gnats and other pesky insects by using things you probably already have in your kitchen.
Here are the best natural insecticides to try—no toxic chemicals needed.
4 Natural Insecticides to Keep on Hand
1. Vinegar Traps
Fungus gnats are known for being quite the nuisance, wreaking havoc on your plants. You can get rid of them by making a fungus gnat trap at home in seconds using something that’s already in your pantry.
Start by filling up a Mason jar or cup halfway with apple cider vinegar or red wine, as fungus gnats are attracted to sweet smells. Then, make a cone with a piece of paper and set it inside the cup, ensuring it doesn’t touch the liquid. After flying down into the cup, the gnats won’t be able to fly back up.
2. Neem Oil
Amanda Switzer, the plant pro behind the popular plant YouTube account Planterina, recommends getting rid of pests (like aphids and mealybugs) with neem oil—a vegetable oil that also happens to be a naturally-occurring pesticide.
“What I do is I dilute the neem oil—one percent neem oil to 99 percent water. Then you can add a little bit of dish soap because, you know, oil and water don’t mix,” she shares in a video. Try to remove as many of the insects as you can, then spray your foliage with the mixture.
3. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth may sound like something out of a sci-fi flick, but it’s actually just a naturally-occurring rock that has been crumbled into a powder. So, how does it work as a natural insecticide? To make a long story short, it looks similar to shards of glass under a microscope. When it punctures a bug’s body, it dehydrates it and causes it to die.
Grab the food-grade version (which is considered safe for humans according to the FDA, USDA, and EPA) and simply sprinkle it on top of your plant’s soil. Because it’s a fine dust, it’s recommended that you wear gloves, a face mask, and protective goggles when doing so. That way, it won’t irritate your skin, eyes, or lungs.
4. Garlic Oil Spray
James Prigioni, the content creator behind The Gardening Channel with James Prigioni, says garlic oil spray is one of the best natural insecticides for controlling pests.
“We’re using garlic for specific reasons,” he says in his video. “This garlic has in it a compound called allicin, and that compound helps to confuse insects and also helps to repel them a little bit.”
All you have to do is finely chop 10 to 15 fresh garlic cloves. Then, add the chopped garlic to a jar with some mineral oil and let it sit for 24 hours. The next day, strain the garlic out of the oil and add it to water with some kind of dish soap. Shake it up, and you’ll have yourself a great broad-spectrum spray for your plants.
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