How to Kill Bugs Without Pesticides

Overview

Bugs can make all of your hard work in the garden disappear in a matter of no time. They can damage and consume your precious vegetables and fruits so quickly, you may want to reach for something powerful to destroy them. But, for many people who are following a greener, more organic approach to gardening, a chemical pesticide would be unthinkable. Other, more environmentally friendly solutions can help you keep those unwanted critters at bay.

Step 1

Remove bugs that are relatively large and easy to see, such as hornworm caterpillars, by hand. Dispose of them in a bucket of soap solution.

Step 2

Spray the affected plants forcefully with a water hose to physically knock bugs off. Be careful not to use too much force, which may damage the plant.

Step 3

Spray plants with a mild solution of detergent in water (2 tsps. mild soap per gallon of water). This can kill many pest bugs and is particularly good at eliminating soft-bodied insects such as aphids.

Step 4

Apply commercial powders or sprays containing bacteria and fungi as a form of biological control. These can include the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, which infects and kills pest insects when eaten, or Beauveria bassiana, a fungus that kill insects when they come in contact with spores.

Step 5

Purchase and distribute in your garden beneficial, predatory insects that eat other insects--including lacewings, predatory wasps and ladybugs--or parasitic wasps that lay eggs on pest insects that will serve as a food source for their young.

Step 6

Dust your plants with powdered pyrethrum daisies. These flowers contain a naturally occuring chemical that paralyzes bugs, eventually killing them. Take care when applying this method of treatment, as it can adversely affect beneficial insect populations as well.

Step 7

Set traps to catch and kill a variety of bugs. Use glue traps for small insects that will get stuck easily. Use container traps for larger and more abundant species. Bait the traps with food attractants or pheromones, depending on the species of pest you are targeting.

Step 8

Prune away parts of the plant that are heavily infested. Burn the removed parts to kill the pests and prevent reinfection. Be sure not to remove so much of the plant that it can not survive.

Step 9

Spray plants with natural vegetable or mineral oils. The oils interfere with the breathing of bugs and the exchange of gases in insect eggs, depriving the pests of oxygen and killing them.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap
  • Beneficial microbes
  • Beneficial insects
  • Powdered pyrethrum daisies
  • Glue or container traps
  • Vegetable or mineral oil

References

  • University of Missouri Extension: Least-Toxic Control Methods to Manage Indoor Plant Pests
  • Cornell University Extension: Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management
Keywords: organic pest control, pest control without pesticides, kill bugs natural method

About this Author

Located in Jacksonville, Fla, Frank Whittemore has been a writer and content strategist for over 15 years, providing corporate communications services to Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics that stem from his fascination with nature, the environment, science, medicine and technology.