Neem oil is a naturally occurring insect repellent that comes from neem trees, derived from neem leaf extract. It is yellow to brown, has a bitter taste, and strong odor of garlic or sulfur.
Also known as Indian lilac, has many uses outside of being a common insecticide. It’s native to South Asia, and has been used for centuries to make wax, oil, soap, and even cosmetic products.
How Does Neem Oil Work?
The product is sourced from seeds which grow from broadleaf evergreen trees that 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 chemicals for protecting garden and plant life.
When used in plantlife, the compounds in the product causes insects to reduce or stop feeding on them. This prevents the insects from maturing, and will reduce mating and laying eggs. In some cases, the oil clogs breathing holes and will suffocate them.
The most active ingredient in neem oil, azadirachtin, acts as a repellent towards insects and disrupts hormones, making it hard for insects to lay eggs. You can find a carrier oil formulated into granules, dust, wettable powders, and other concentrates.
What Does Neem Oil Kill?
It’s best to use this product against chewing and sucking insects, or pesky garden dwellers like:
- Japanese beetles
Be sure to always read and follow the label of any product you’re using. If using drops of neem oil isn’t helping with preventing pests in and around your home, contact a pest control expert at (833) 431-0401.
Is Neem Oil Safe for Humans?
Yes! This is a naturally occurring product, but always be sure to read and follow the label of any product you’re using.
Keep all products away from eyes and mouth, and be sure to not overexpose yourself to any products by ingesting or breathing in products.
Some individuals may have adverse allergic reactions to neem oil.
If you find that you are having an allergic reaction or symptoms of skin conditions after using it, be sure to wash the affected area thoroughly, and contact a healthcare professional if your symptoms worsen.
The azadirachtin component of the oil can be irritating to the eyes, skin, and stomach if exposed directly.
Be sure to wash your hands before and after using a pest control product.
However, most of neem oil is 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 have shown that neem oil did not have any major adverse effects on humans. It cannot alter or damage genes, and has not been known to cause cancer.
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.
Neem oil can only become toxic if ingested directly. Therefore, if used to treat plants, bees and other pollinators will not be harmed.
Azadirachtin, a main component of neem oil, is moderately toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. Use caution if you are using or disposing neem oil near a freshwater stream.
Some countries have used neem oil for flea control, but some negative effects have been reported. Always speak to a vet before using any unknown product on your pet. Cats who have been exposed to neem oil for flea treatments experience symptoms of:
- 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.
Which Products Use Neem Oil?
Many retail pest control products use neem oil as a main component in their formulas. These products come in sprays, dusts, and oils. These retail products are normally specially formulated to prevent pests while not inflicting damage on 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 as an emulsifier, 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
Neem Oil vs Other Products
There are lots of products out there to help you ward off pests. Let’s look at some other natural products that compare to neem oil.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has become a popular holistic solution for many things from cosmetic uses to pest control, similarly to neem oil. Most products containing tea tree will dilute the tea tree heavily, as it is known to irritate and even burn skin. Tea tree is much more antibacterial and antifungal, so it’s much more useful as a cosmetic product.
This is another holistic option for those looking for a more natural solution. As mentioned, neem oil is great for warding off aphids, mosquitoes, and other “sucking” pests. Cedarwood may be a better solution for a pest pest problem with moths and mollusks.
This product is a chemically formulated product comparable to neem oil. It’s recommended use is for sucking insects in gardens, and it does not harm bees or other wildlife.
Since the product is chemically made, most of the product may not be active ingredients, but dissolvents which make the product safe for use.
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.