4 Organic Pest Controls | Reader's Digest

4 Organic Pest Controls

Got pests in your garden? The vast majority of pest problems can be corrected with inexpensive organic solutions. Here are 4 of our favorites.

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  • 1.

    Soap spray

    Great for aphids, mites, and other soft-bodied insects. Choose a commercial variety or brew your own: 2 teaspoons dishwashing liquid, a few drops of vegetable oil, and 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. Do not use soap sprays in drought or hot weather, or you may damage leaves, and always test them first on a few leaves.

  • 2.

    Horticultural oil sprays

    These smother eggs and developing pests. Use light oils year-round, except in temperatures over 85°F (29°C). Use dormant oils before plants leaf out.

  • 3.

    Sulfur or lime sulfur spray

    Use to control fungus such as powdery mildew and various blights. It’s especially effective on fruit trees, berry bushes, and roses. In general, this spray should be applied during the dormant months or very early in the growing season, as buds begin to swell. Do not apply in temperatures over 90°F (32°C), and never use within two weeks of applying horticultural oil.

  • 4.

    Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)

    This is bacteria, usually sold in a spray, that is used as a last organic resort to control caterpillars and some moth larvae. A different form is used to kill mosquito larvae.

    The first three sprays will solve 80 percent of common garden pest problems, with no harmful residues or other long-term issues.

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