Organic Insect Control for fruit and vegetables

I would like to prevent damage from various insects on my fruits and vegetables this year. Are there organic or natural pesticides which I can use safely?

Nowadays we have several organic pesticides which can be used safely on our fruits and vegetables without leaving harmful residues and with complete safety to our pets, children, wildlife and to ourselves as we apply them.

One of our oldest natural pesticides, used to prevent maggot and worm damage to root vegetables like radish, turnip, beet and onion, is diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When placed in the soil with seeds at planting time, it kills the root maggots. The important thing to us is that if an insect with an exoskeleton gets diatomaceous earth on them, they die. At the same time, we can rub it all over our skin, rub it in our hair, or eat it and we are unharmed.

A relatively new organic insecticide called Spinosad will control many insects which attack fruits and vegetables. Applied at two week intervals on apples and pears starting in late May, it will keep fruit worm free. Spinosad will also control caterpillar worms which attack cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and related vegetables. It also prevents leaf miner damage to lettuce, spinach, chard and other leafy vegetables.

Dipel and Thuricide are brands of Bacillus thuringensis, which is also effective in controlling caterpillars.

Aphids and mites which attack many trees and shrubs as well as fruits and vegetables can be controlled with Safer insecticidal soap. Neem oil is another organic pesticide which controls aphids and many other insects.

Slug and snail bait containing iron phosphate is safe around pets and children.

It is necessary to check ingredient labels on various brands of pesticides to find some of these natural pesticides. These and other natural pest control products are available from




Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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