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The Best Non-Toxic Insecticides for Your Garden

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 substances kill, control, or repel insects. But not all of them are entirely safe for use.

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 on the market.

Best Insecticides

Best Overall: Monterey LG 6135 Garden Insect Spray
Best Oil: Bonide All Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Spray Oil
Most Budget-Friendly: Natria Neem Oil Spray
Best for Lawns: Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control
Best Soap: Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap
Best for Caterpillars: Bonide Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)
Best Granules: EcoSmart Insect Killer Granules
Best Powder: DiatomaceousEarth.com Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Best Concentrate: Trifecta Crop Control Super Concentrate

Things to Know About Insecticides

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)
  • Bacillus thuringiensis (a bacterium toxic to certain insects)

Our Top Picks

Choosing the perfect insecticide for your needs can be overwhelming due to the vast array of products available on the market.

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

Monterey LG 6135 Garden Insect Spray

Image source: https://www.amazon.com/Monterey-LG6135-Garden-Spinosad-Concentrate/dp/B002BP12LI

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

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.

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

You can apply Monterey Garden Spray to a range of plants, from ornamental shrubs to trees. This flexibility makes it an essential weapon in your pest control arsenal.

Best Oil: Bonide All Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Spray Oil

Bonide All Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Spray Oil

Image source: https://bonide.com/product/all-seasons-horticultural-oil-conc/

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

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.

Most Budget-Friendly: Natria Neem Oil Spray

Natria Neem Oil Spray

Image source: https://natria.bioadvanced.com/natria-neem-oil.html

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Best for Lawns: Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control

Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control

Image source: https://www.wondercide.com/products/outdoor-natural-pest-control-concentrate-kills-repels-100s-of-pests-ecotreat

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

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.

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.

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

Best Soap: Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap

Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap

Image source: https://www.saferbrand.com/safer-brand-insect-killing-soap-rtu-32-oz-5110-6

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

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.

Best for Caterpillars: Bonide Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

Bonide Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

Image source: https://bonide.com/product/thuricide-liquid-rtu/

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

Bonide’s Captain Jack’s organics line delivers a breath of fresh air in the world of pest control. 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 that the Bt will become the cause of its untimely end.

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. Selective application of Bt is necessary to protect the beneficial insects that make our gardens bloom.

Best Granules: EcoSmart Insect Killer Granules

EcoSmart Insect Killer Granules

Image source: https://ecosmart.com/products/insect-killer-granules-10-lb-bag

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

EcoSmart’s Insect Killer Granules boasts an environmentally friendly and chemical-free formula.

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

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 you can enjoy long-lasting protection from unwanted pests, with the product’s effectiveness lasting up to 4 weeks before needing to be reapplied.

Best Powder: DiatomaceousEarth.com Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

DiatomaceousEarth.com Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Image source: https://www.diatomaceousearth.com/products/diatomaceousearth-food-grade-10-lb

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

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.

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.

Best Concentrate: Trifecta Crop Control Super Concentrate

Trifecta Crop Control Super Concentrate

Image source: https://www.trifectanatural.com/product/trifecta-crop-control/

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

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 concentrated insecticide, miticide, and fungicide is specially formulated to tackle larger properties 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.

This solution works wonders against unwanted invaders like:

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

Before You Buy Insecticide

person doing pest control

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/pl-pl/zdjecie/kobieta-ogrod-drzewa-kapelusz-4894608/

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.

What to Look For in an Insecticide

Forms

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 home.
  • 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 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.
  • Granules provide an easy-to-apply solution for outdoor spaces like lawns and gardens. They are perfect for warding off soil-dwelling critters like ants and grubs without damaging your valuable greenery.

Ingredients

Understanding active ingredients is central to selecting a suitable insecticide for your needs.

Here are some popular options:

  • 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.

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 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.

Targeted Insects

Identifying the insects you’re up against is crucial to selecting the most effective solution.

Some insecticides target a broad spectrum of pests, while others are more specialized — aimed at eliminating particular nuisances, such as mosquitoes, ants, or termites.

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

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.

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 gardeners looking to protect their plants.

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.

May your garden thrive and grow!

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