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9 Best Non-Toxic Insecticides of 2023

Environmentally conscious homeowners face many challenges. Among those, one of the most demanding is controlling invasive pests without harming the environment, children, or pets.

Most people use insecticides to deal with those garden invaders. These are substances specifically designed to kill, control, or repel insects. They safeguard crops, but some are not entirely safe for use, as they might negatively affect wildlife.

Thankfully, as demand increases for green solutions, so does the number of effective, non-toxic insecticides on the market. From insect sprays to soaps and oil blends, these products can help you maintain a healthy and bug-free garden.

Here are the top-rated, eco-friendly insecticides available in 2023.

Things to Know About Insecticides

Before jumping into the list of best insecticides, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with available solutions.

Insecticides can be classified into two main categories: synthetic and natural.

Synthetic insecticides are human-made chemical compounds, many of which are derived from petroleum or other non-renewable resources.

These are often highly effective in controlling pests but can negatively impact the environment and non-target organisms, such as pollinators, other beneficial insects, and humans.

On the other hand, natural insecticides are derived from biological sources. They include plant extracts and beneficial microorganisms. These products tend to be more eco-friendly and less toxic to non-target organisms.

Examples of natural insecticides include neem oil, pyrethrum (derived from chrysanthemum flowers), and Bacillus thuringiensis (a bacterium toxic to certain insects).

Whether synthetic or natural, insecticides play an essential role in modern agriculture and urban life by helping to manage infestations and reduce the economic and health risks associated with pests.

Yet, it’s crucial to use these chemicals responsibly to minimize harm to the environment and non-target species.

Our Top Picks

Choosing the perfect insecticide for your needs can be a bit overwhelming due to the vast array of products available on the market. That said, certain factors can help simplify the decision-making process.

To make an informed choice, consider the type of insects you’re dealing with, the level of infestation, and the safety aspects of the product — especially if you have children or pets at home.

The list below includes some of the top insecticide choices for indoor and outdoor applications, considering both cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

Best Overall: Monterey LG 6135 Garden Insect Spray

garden insect spray

Containing Spinosad, a natural bacterium that kills pests without harming humans or pets, Monterey Garden Insect Spray is our top choice for a non-toxic insecticide.

This product targets common garden invaders such as leaf miners and thrips, offering fast results while leaving a minimal odor.

The versatility of Monterey Garden Spray allows it to be applied to a range of plants, from ornamental shrubs to trees. This flexibility makes it an essential weapon in your pest control arsenal.

Homeowners in the South will particularly appreciate Spinosad’s effectiveness against fire ants — persistent and unwelcome intruders.

Another advantage of this product is the ease of application and the various options available. Monterey Garden Spray comes in ready-to-use sprays or hose-end attachments, so you can choose whatever suits your needs best.

However, keep in mind that it can also harm beneficial insects like butterflies and bees, so avoid spraying blooming flowers and host plants.

  • Application Type: Spray
  • Location: Outdoors
  • Targeted Pest: Broad Spectrum

Best Oil: Bonide All Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Spray Oil

Bonide All Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Spray Oil

Horticultural oil is an environment-friendly, convenient solution for eliminating pesky insects from gardens and houseplants. Bonide’s oil-based spray, in particular, excels at this task. It’s perfect for controlling slow-moving insects like scales and mealybugs.

The eco-friendly mineral oil in this easy-to-apply mixture adheres to pests upon contact. The popular All-Seasons version uses mineral oil suspended in a mixture designed for effortless spraying in a fine mist.

Because it works both indoors and outdoors, you can use this insecticide across your garden as well as within your houseplants.

Although highly effective against pests, it’s essential to remember that the adhering quality of the oil can interfere with the gas exchange by obstructing leaf pores. To avoid hampering the plant’s growth, refrain from drenching the plant entirely.

The key to successful eradication lies in consistent applications over several weeks, targeting all stages of the insect’s life cycle.

  • Application Type: Spray
  • Location: Outdoors and Indoors
  • Targeted Pest: Broad Spectrum

Most Budget-Friendly: Natria Neem Oil Spray

Natria Neem Oil Spray

Originating from the Neem tree, this natural oil does double-duty as both a pest control solution and an affordable option for budget-conscious gardeners.

Apart from being an excellent insect repellent, this multifunctional formula eliminates fungi and cures plant diseases.

The effectiveness of the neem oil spray extends right up until the day of harvest. It means you can use the product to protect fruits and vegetables grown in gardens without concerns about contamination at harvest time.

Consequently, users can enjoy the plentiful yields from their gardens, knowing their produce is safe and pest-free.

Applying the product directly to pests will yield the best results, as its success relies on accurate application and timing.

While the neem-oil spray does need to be reapplied every 7 to 14 days, it takes care of a wide range of pesky insects, such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies.

What sets this product apart is its eco-friendliness. The natural ingredients in the spray make it a safe option for your garden’s environment. It will not have adverse effects on local wildlife or be harmful to pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Besides, users can rest assured that it is safe to use around children and pets, giving them peace of mind while tending to their green spaces.

  • Application Type: Spray
  • Location: Indoors
  • Targeted Pest: Aphids, White Flies, Spider Mites

Best for Lawns: Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control

Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control

If you’re not a frequent gardener but still wish to maintain a pest-free backyard for your family and pets, consider using a cedar-oil-based treatment.

As a natural pest control option, this solution is safe to use and can be applied directly to your lawn without worrying about harmful chemicals.

The Wondercide cedar-oil-based treatment comes in a 32-ounce concentrate that covers up to 21,000 square feet, making it easy to treat your entire backyard at once.

To apply this product, simply dilute the concentrate according to the label instructions and evenly spray the mix across your lawn.

Safe for immediate re-entry after application, this eco-friendly solution repels a variety of pests, including roaches, ants, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.

In addition to its effective bug-repellent capabilities, this product is also helpful in keeping mosquitoes away. If these pesky insects prevent you from enjoying outdoor relaxation and entertaining, introducing this cedar-oil-based treatment into your yard management routine could be a game-changer.

For summer-long control, it’s recommended that you apply the product several times on a consistent schedule. The best part? You and your pets can safely use the yard during and immediately after application — no wait time required.

  • Application Type: Spray
  • Location: Lawn
  • Targeted Pest: Roaches, Ants, Spiders, Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas

Best Soap: Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap

Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap

Safer Brand’s Insect Killing Soap is a non-toxic alternative to traditional insecticides. With its simple yet effective formula, it rightfully deserves a spot on our list of safe and environmentally friendly insect-fighting solutions.

Designed to combat pesky insects, Safer Brand’s Insect Killing Soap works wonders by attacking their protective outer shells and causing dehydration upon direct contact. This method ensures an efficient insect-killing process without relying on harmful chemicals.

What makes this product even more appealing is that it can be used safely both inside and outside your home. This versatility allows you to tackle your insect problem wherever it may be lurking while protecting your family and the environment.

  • Application Type: Spray
  • Location: Outdoors and Indoors
  • Targeted Pest: Broad Spectrum

Best for Caterpillars: Bonide Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

Bonide Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

Bonide’s Captain Jack’s organics line delivers a breath of fresh air in the world of pest control. These products specifically target notorious garden intruders such as caterpillars and worms.

The Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium in this product targets only the larval stages of insects. As the caterpillar enjoys its meal, it ingests this bacteria. Little does it know, the Bt will become the cause of its untimely end.

While such potent power might raise questions about safety, rest assured that Captain Jack’s products have your back. The Bt bacterium is safe not just for humans but also for pets that might roam your outdoor space.

That being said, it’s essential to be careful when using this product against unwelcome caterpillars. Selective application of Bt is necessary to protect the beneficial insects that make our gardens bloom.

And ultimately, it’s up to us to maintain the balance between keeping pests at bay and nurturing the creatures that bring life into our world.

  • Application Type: Spray
  • Location: Garden, Ornamentals, Trees
  • Targeted Pest: Larval Stages of Insects

Best Granules: EcoSmart Insect Killer Granules

EcoSmart Insect Killer Granules

EcoSmart’s Insect Killer Granules boasts an environmentally friendly and chemical-free formula. This factor makes it a highly suitable choice for households with children and pets.

Covering a grand total of 5,000 square feet, this granule insecticide provides extensive protection for your home and garden.

To make things even easier, applying the granules is a breeze with a handheld spreader. If you prefer, you can also spread the granules by hand.

One of the advantages of using granules over powder insecticides is their resilience.

Granules are not easily blown away or washed off, except in cases of heavy rain. It means that users can enjoy long-lasting protection from unwanted pests, with the product’s effectiveness lasting up to 4 weeks before needing to be reapplied.

Over this four-week period, the unique formula of clove and thyme oil ensures that ants, ticks, fleas, and other invading insects are efficiently killed and repelled. This way, you can keep your yard free from these irritating creatures.

  • Application Type: Granules
  • Location: Lawn
  • Targeted Pest: Broad Spectrum

Best Powder: DiatomaceousEarth.com Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

DiatomaceousEarth.com Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Composed of fossilized diatoms, diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder that effectively controls ground-dwelling insects and arachnids like beetles and roaches. Sprinkling this powder around your home perimeter or in garden beds provides long-lasting protection as long as excessive moisture is absent.

DiatomaceousEarth.com offers a food-grade diatomaceous earth product that is safe for humans, pets, and wildlife.

This product’s safe and natural composition makes it ideal for use in vegetable gardens. Gardeners can feel secure knowing that their plants are protected from pests without the risk of harmful chemicals.

In addition to safeguarding outdoor greenery, this diatomaceous earth is an excellent choice for indoor pest control. Ants, roaches, ticks, and crickets are no match for this mechanical killer.

Although it works wonders against insects, keep in mind that diatomaceous earth is susceptible to rain and moisture. Regular monitoring and reapplication should be part of your pest control routine since the powder can be washed away.

  • Application Type: Powder
  • Location: Outdoors and Indoors 
  • Targeted Pest: Ground-Dwelling Insects, Arachnids, and Snails

Best Concentrate: Trifecta Crop Control Super Concentrate

Trifecta Crop Control Super Concentrate

Dealing with pesky bugs on your property? Look no further than Trifecta Crop Control Super Concentrate.

This concentrated insecticide, miticide, and fungicide is specially formulated to tackle larger properties and multiple treatments without the need for constant repurchasing. Just mix the 4-ounce bottle with water to create up to 8 gallons of non-toxic, environment-friendly liquid insecticide.

Trifecta’s all-in-one solution is designed to repel insects and eliminate existing infestations while keeping your household residents and pets out of harm’s way. It’s perfect for treating a wide range of plants, from herbs and spices to succulents and ornamentals.

This solution works wonders against unwanted invaders like:

  • spider mites,
  • powdery mildew,
  • botrytis,
  • mold,
  • aphids,
  • caterpillars,
  • and beetles.

Using food-grade essential oils such as garlic, thyme, clove, and peppermint, Trifecta Crop Control offers an eco-friendly approach to tackling these unwanted pests.

  • Application Type: Concentrate
  • Location: Outdoors and Indoors 
  • Targeted Pest: Broad Spectrum

Before You Buy Insecticide

When searching for an insecticide, it’s crucial to consider its impact on the environment. Many products contain potent chemicals that can threaten local wildlife and ecosystems.

Instead of picking the first pest control solution you find, take time to investigate its effects on nature.

Spend some time researching alternative insecticides, such as powders, granules, and liquids. Look for those with natural active ingredients that won’t harm the environment.

A natural insecticide is usually the safest bet; otherwise, consuming fruits or vegetables from these plants could become risky.

Prioritize a healthy and eco-friendly approach rather than focusing solely on eliminating pests immediately.

What to Look for in an Insecticide

Navigating through the vast world of insecticides can seem daunting, but don’t fret — we’re here to guide you in picking the perfect product.

By considering five key aspects — formats, vital ingredients, location, targeted insects, and coverage — you’ll be armed with the essential knowledge needed to make an informed decision.

Formats

Insecticides come in various forms, each designed to suit different needs.

  • Sprays are a popular go-to thanks to their ease of use and ability to cover large areas. They’re especially effective for swift contact-killing or deterring insects from entering your territory.
  • Concentrates, as the name suggests, pack a punch by providing a highly concentrated solution that requires dilution before use. They offer the flexibility of customizing dosage to specific pest problems, making them a cost-effective option for long-term use.
  • Powders, on the other hand, target lingering insects that inhabit nooks and crannies. These fine-textured insecticides seep into hard-to-reach spaces and take effect upon contact with pests — an ideal choice for tackling nests or habitats within wall cavities and cracks.
  • Last but not least, granules provide an easy-to-apply solution for outdoor spaces like lawns and gardens. Perfect for warding off soil-dwelling critters such as ants and grubs without damaging your valuable greenery.

Ingredients

Understanding active ingredients is central to selecting a suitable insecticide for your needs. Some popular options include:

  • Pyrethroids (e.g., permethrin) shake up the nervous system of insects.
  • Neonicotinoids (e.g., imidacloprid) disrupt the central nervous system.
  • Organophosphates (e.g., malathion) interfere with an enzyme crucial to insects’ survival.

Each ingredient targets different pests, so make sure to read product labels and select one that matches your insect problem.

Location

The battle against bugs happens on various terrains, so it’s essential to consider where you’ll be deploying your insecticide. Some products may only be safe for indoor use, while others are designed explicitly for outdoor applications.

Indoor insecticides often focus on safety around humans and pets, with minimal odors and a preference for non-staining formulations. They’re perfect for handling infestations in living spaces, kitchens, and bedrooms.

Outdoor insecticides are crafted to withstand the elements and protect gardens, lawns, and exteriors from invading pests. They may be more potent, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to minimize potential harm to surrounding flora and fauna.

Covered Area

Insecticide effectiveness is determined by its ability to treat the area in need. Before purchasing a product, consider the size of the space requiring treatment — whether it’s an entire lawn or just a small kitchen corner.

Larger coverage areas might demand bulkier purchases or higher concentrations, while smaller zones may simply need a compact spray or powder solution.

Targeted Insects

Finally, it’s crucial to identify the specific insects you’re up against to select the most effective insecticide tailored to their weak points. Some insecticides target a broad spectrum of pests, while others are more specialized — aimed at eliminating particular nuisances, such as mosquitoes, ants, or termites.

Certain insects may develop resistance to specific ingredients over time, so it’s essential to stay informed and adapt your strategy if necessary.

Final Thoughts

With growing awareness of our environmental impact, the demand for non-toxic insecticides has never been higher. The options presented above are just a glimpse of what’s available for conscientious gardeners looking to protect their plants while keeping kids, pets, and pollinators safe.

Protecting your garden and lawn from pests doesn’t have to involve toxic chemicals. By opting for eco-friendly solutions, you can maintain a vibrant and healthy garden while promoting ecological balance. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

As always, follow the label instructions and consider the specific needs of your plants and environment when selecting the right solution for you.

May your garden thrive and grow in 2023!

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