Neem oil has been used for centuries to make wax, oil, soap, and even cosmetic products. More importantly, neem oil can be used as a natural form of pest control. This guide will tell you how you can use neem oil for pest control on your plants and in your home.
Neem oil is a natural insect repellent that comes from neem trees. The oil is derived from neem leaf extract. It is brownish yellow, has a bitter taste, and a strong odor some say is close to garlic or sulfur. Also known as Indian lilac, Neem oil has many uses outside of being a common insecticide.
How Does Neem Oil Work?
Neem oil comes from broadleaf evergreen seeds. They are found across India and other parts of South Asia.
The trees themselves are called Azadirachta indica, and will normally grow 50-60 feet tall. This product has been proven to help plant life grow, and is one of the best natural protectors of garden and plant life.
When used as a natural insect repellent for plants, neem oil prevents and reduces damage from feeding on plant life. The invasive insects will stop maturing, mating, and laying eggs. In some cases, the oil clogs a pest’s breathable exoskeleton, suffocating them upon contact.
The most active ingredient in neem oil, azadirachtin. This is the chemical repellent that disrupts the pest’s hormones, making it hard for them to lay eggs. You can find neem oil formulated into granules, dust, wettable powders, and other concentrates.
What Does Neem Oil Kill?
Neem oil is best to protect against chewing and sucking insects. Pesky garden dwellers do not stand a chance against neem oil. You can use neem oil for pest control against the following:
- Japanese beetles
Be sure to always read and follow the label of any product you’re using. If neem oil isn’t preventing and eliminating pests on your plants, contact a pest control expert at (833) 431-0401. You may have a larger infestation attracting the pests on your plants.
Is Neem Oil Safe for Humans?
Neem oil is a naturally occurring product that should be safe for anyone to use. Neem oil is mostly made of fatty acids and other substances found in a normal diet. If you use neem oil to protect your garden, be sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before eating. Studies show that neem oil does not have any major adverse effects on humans. It cannot alter or damage genes and has not been known to cause cancer.
Always be sure to read and follow the label of any product you’re using. And watch out for any adverse reactions, such as itching or inflammation. Keep neem oil away from the eyes and mouth. Be sure to not overexpose yourself to any products by directly ingesting or breathing in products. The azadirachtin component of the oil can be irritating to the eyes, skin, and stomach if exposed directly.
If you have an allergic reaction to neem oil, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water. Monitor the affected area for a few hours and contact a healthcare professional if your symptoms worsen.
Is Neem Oil Safe For Animals and Other Wildlife?
Neem oil isn’t known to be harmful to birds, mammals, bees, butterflies, ladybugs, or plants.
Azadirachtin, the main chemical component of neem oil, is moderately toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. Use caution if you dispose of your neem oil near a freshwater stream.
Some countries use neem oil for flea control on pets, more specifically, cats. There are some reports of negative effects from doing this. Always speak to a vet before using any unknown product on your pet. There are also other natural alternatives to neem oil that also protect against fleas. Cats that have been overexposed to neem oil may experience adverse reactions such as:
- Excessive salivation
- Impaired movement
Most cats recover within 5 days. Speak to your vet if you think your cat has been exposed to neem oil and is experiencing these symptoms.
Also Read: Essential Oils That Are Bad For Cats
Which Products Use Neem Oil?
Many retail pest control products use neem oil as the main ingredient in their formulas. These products come in sprays, dusts, and oils. These products are specially formulated to prevent pests while not damaging your garden.
Always read and follow the label of any retail product you’re using.
How to Make Neem Oil Spray
You can also make a DIY neem oil spray at home!
You’ll need crude or raw neem oil, a mild liquid soap, and a spray bottle:
- Mix 1 tsp of raw neem oil, ½ a tsp of liquid soap, and 4 cups of water together.
- Carefully pour into a spray bottle with a funnel.
- Use the mix within 8 hours to protect any spaces from pests.
Also Read: 5 Natural Pest Control DIYs
Neem Oil vs Other Products
There are lots of products out there to help you ward off pests on your plants. Let’s look at some other natural products that compare to neem oil.
Tea Tree Oil
Similar to neem oil, tea tree oil is a popular holistic solution for many things from cosmetics to pest control. Most products containing tea tree oil are heavily diluted, as it is can irritate and even burn skin. Tea tree oil is much more antibacterial and antifungal. It’s better suited as a cosmetic product rather than for pest control, but can be a great alternative to protect plants.
This is another holistic option for those looking for more natural solutions to plant pest control. As mentioned, neem oil is great for warding off aphids, mosquitoes, and other “sucking” pests. Cedarwood may be a better solution for a pest problem with moths and mollusks. Cedarwood is safe to use on dogs but can be harmful to cats.
Also Read: Cedarwood Oil Guide
Organocide is a chemically formulated product comparable to neem oil. It’s used against sucking insects in gardens, and it does not harm bees or other wildlife.
Since the product is chemically made and highly diluted. The dissolvents are safer to use, yet potent enough to protect against pests.
If you’re unsure if neem oil products are the right solution to protect against pests in your garden, call a local exterminator at (833) 431-0401 to see what other solutions they recommend.
Click on the link to read about other pest control chemicals.