Insect Controls

selected and submitted by Paul Lariviere from an article in Pomona vol. XXXII no. 4 by S. Clark



*Nicotiana is by far my first choice for the control of all chewing and sucking insects.  In the same family as tobacco, is an annual in northern climates and a perennial in southern ones (get the non-hybridized type, which grows to height of about 3’ with white trumpet shaped flowers.)  It will reseed itself aggressively – insects love it

and it makes them very sick, but it doesn’t seem to affect the birds who then eat them.



*Molasses jug works very well and doesn’t kill bees.  Take a gallon plastic jug with a

carry handle.  Leave the top on and cut a 2”-3” hole in one side near the top.  Fill 1/3 full of a solution of 1/4  cup vinegar and 1/4 cup molasses to each half gallon of water.  Hang one in each tree and keep the fluid level up by adding water.  When it gets really gucky with dead bugs, dump, rinse, and refill.



*Fish oil based spray is the best growing season spray, as it washes off easily and becomes a fertilizer.  It tends to repel some insects, but it is best in suffocating aphids without suffocating the trees.  I’m told it works for other bad bugs, but I use it mostly for aphids when the insect predators can’t control them.

*White latex paint – exterior flat, with a copper or zinc fungicide added – is good for two things: suffocating bad bugs and stopping sun scald.  It needs to be applied to the trunk of fruit trees every two summers.  Summer application will allow beneficials to lay eggs on the tree in the fall.  Note: do not use oil based paints or varnish, as they make the tree sick.



*Sulfur dust and solution do kill aphids and soft bodied larvae, but can’t be used in hot, dry summers, as they burn leaves.  Sulfur preparations are best used in damp spring.

*Dish soap solution works for aphids and soft bodied larvae as it cuts the coating on their outsides and they desiccate.  It’s also harmless if used sparingly and can even act as a fertilizer. [APFG editor’s note – do not use antibacterial soaps!]



*Vacuum sweepers work great to suck everything off plants, but they don’t work on flying insects which escape when disturbed.  Aphids, larvae, and caterpillars don’t escape, however.  Caution: vacuum sweepers also suck off new leaves, so use only on tough, established leaves and use low sweeper power.

*Hand-picking when you see bad bugs stops them.  I like to squash them, but for the squeamish, a bucket of water with vinegar in it – 1 c. vinegar to 1/2 gallon of water [or a few squirts of dish soap in water, which also works well – Ed.] is a good eliminator.  Just drop the bad bugs in it.  Dump it down the toilet or in the compost pile when it gets too thick.