Also known as pesticide or insecticide, an insect spray is a liquid chemical formulation widely used by home and commercial gardeners to kill, prevent, deter, repel or control the wide variety of insects that damage blooms or make them susceptible to disease. While these sprays effectively control insects, care should be taken to prevent inhalation of ingestion of the toxic chemicals by humans, and the sprays should be stored or disposed of appropriately to prevent accidents.
Most insect sprays kill or deter insects such as cutworms, bag worms, aphids, Japanese beetles, mealy bugs, scale insects, leaf miners and crawlers that damage flowers and foliage. However, read the label to determine the specific insects each spray kills.
There are many types of insect sprays. Some specialize in treating a specific type of flower pest while others have a more general use. For instance, Bug-No-More Multi Purpose Ready Spray kills flower insects that include cabbageworms, armyworms, locust, fall cankerworms, cutworms, fungus gnats, fall webworms, inchworms, spring cankerworms, leaf rollers, psyllids, rose chafer and spider mites immediately upon contact. Full coverage over flowers is required, and a repeat application is recommended every four to eight days until the bugs disappear. Bayer Advanced Rose & Flower Insect Killer Ready-to-Use Spray is another insect spray that kills clover mites, adelgids, elm leaf beetles, box elder bugs, gypsy moth larvae, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, leaf-feeding caterpillars, leaf-feeding beetles, pill bugs, spittle bugs and sawfly larvae immediately upon contact. For optimal results, repeat application every week to two weeks.
Most insect sprays are available in liquid formulations that are sprayed directly over flowers, although a few granular variations exist. Spray flowers and leaves completely (including undersides) upon insect sighting. Most insecticide labels recommend spraying on a non-windy day with the temperature between 55 and 70 degrees F. Depending on the label, repeat application every four to 14 days.
Do not reuse an empty container or spray bottle that previously contained insecticide, but dispose of it appropriately. Wash it thoroughly to remove any residue and place in a garbage bag. Call the solid waste agency for specific disposal instructions if you have a partially filled bottle that you do not want to store. Do not pour excess or unused insecticide in a drain.
Store insect sprays in a cool, dry and sheltered spot, such as a locked cabinet or shed to prevent children from getting their hands on them. Remove any food, animal feed or water from the storage room to prevent contamination.
Prevent contact with eyes or skin when applying insect sprays over flowers as these contain chemicals that can cause allergies and respiratory tract, eye or skin irritation when inhaled or ingested. In case of direct or indirect contact with eyes, rinse with cool water immediately and contact your poison control center.