It’s springtime, and my garden is beginning to flourish. Unfortunately, so is the insect population. Some insects like bees and butterflies are welcome and beneficial to the garden, but others are only interested in destroying plants in pursuit of a good meal. So I needed to find the best insecticide for vegetable gardens. In this review, I’m going to share my findings and experience with you.
- Insecticide Vs Pesticide
- Types Of Insecticide For Vegetable Plants
- Organic Vs Chemical Vegetable Insecticide
- 9 Insecticides For Vegetable Gardens Reviewed
- 1. Bonide Ready-To-Use Neem Oil Vegetables & Fruit
- 2. Natria Neem Oil Spray For Vegetables & Fruit, Ready-To-Use
- 3. Bio-Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable Insect Control
- 4. Monterey Garden Insect Spray, Insecticide With Spinosad
- 5. Sevin 5 Percentage Dust Bug Killer For Edibles
- 6. Sevin Gardentech Ready To Spray Insect Killer
- 7. Bonide Insect Control Granules Imidacloprid Insecticide
- 8. Southern Ag Natural Pyrethrin Concentrate
- 9. Ortho Insect Mite & Disease 3-In-1 For Vegetables
- How To Keep Bugs From Eating Your Vegetable Garden
- Best Insecticide For Vegetable Gardens Round-Up
You may be able to deter insects simply by maintaining your garden and keeping your plants healthy. Given the fact that insects are attracted to decomposing matter, a healthy garden will be less tempting to them. Water regularly, prune often, clear dying vegetation and fertilize your soil for a great foundation.
Sometimes, simple garden maintenance is enough. More often than not, however, you’ll need to turn to the support of insecticides. Let’s get our heads around what insecticides are and what to look out for when selecting one for use in your garden.
Insecticide Vs Pesticide
We often use the words pesticide and insecticide interchangeably but they are slightly different. Knowing these differences will help you pick the right way to protect your garden.
The term pesticide encompasses a much broader category than insecticides. Pesticides are designed to repel or destroy pests of any kind, including insects, weeds, and other animals such as birds. If you have destructive invaders of more than one species, you should treat your garden with a pesticide.
An insecticide is a kind of pesticide that targets insects specifically. These can come in a variety of forms, depending on what kind of plant you want to protect and what kind of insects you want to eradicate from your garden.
Types Of Insecticide For Vegetable Plants
Not all insecticides are created equal. To pick the right one, you need to gather information about your garden. First, find out what kind of insects are infesting your garden. Once you know your enemy, you can choose the right insecticide that will target the unwelcome bugs but won’t be harmful to other plants and organisms in the area.
You should also consider what kind of crops you are growing. Some insecticides are more effective in protecting specific vegetables because they target the insects that typically infest those vegetables. You also don’t want to spray chemicals in your garden that will damage the crops themselves.
Once you know what kind of plants you are protecting and what insects you are fighting, you can decide what insecticide is right for you. Consider the method you want to use to apply the insecticide to your plants. Some insecticides are applied as a liquid spray, while others come in granules or dust.
Liquid insecticide spray usually comes in a concentrated form. You have to add water before using it in your garden. Apply liquid insecticide using a sprayer. Because liquid spray insecticide becomes airborne, wear a protective face covering to prevent you from inhaling the chemicals during mixing and application.
Some liquid spray insecticides come pre-mixed but I recommend you buy one of the concentrated options. The chemicals start to break down when mixed with water, and your insecticide will be less effective if you keep it over time.
The downside to liquid insecticides is that you have less control over where the chemicals go. The spray gets caught up in the air and drifts to places you might not want it to. You, your family, and your pets are more likely to accidentally inhale an airborne insecticide. Keep humans and pets away from the garden until the insecticide settles in among the plants.
Insecticide granules contain organophosphate, which targets the pests’ brain and nervous system to cause paralysis and death. Granule insecticides are most effective against ants, fleas, and crickets.
If you want to treat one specific area of your garden, granules are easier to spread over specific areas than a liquid spray. Insecticide granules are often systemic insecticides since their chemicals are absorbed through the roots of the plants and repel insects that way.
Water the granules immediately to spread the insecticide through the soil. This simulates the effect of liquid insecticide without worry about a spray going everywhere. You can use insecticide granules right out of the box without diluting or mixing them.
Dust or Powder
While granules are more like particles or crumbs, insecticide dust is a fine powder. Use insecticide dust on smaller plants that have many nooks and crannies for bugs to crawl into. Dust usually comes ready to apply in a shaker can.
Apply the dust to your plants in a thin layer. The insecticide in dust form is most effective in protecting shorter plants. For taller plants, I recommend using a liquid spray.
Organic Vs Chemical Vegetable Insecticide
Using insecticide improves the survival rate of your plants and increases crop production. Some of us don’t mind using chemicals to protect our plants, while others want to be more friendly to the environment. When choosing an insecticide, note the active ingredients. Some insecticide active ingredients are organic compounds, while others are manufactured chemicals.
Organic Active Ingredients
If you want to go with the more old-fashioned, natural methods of agriculture, organic gardening is for you. There are a lot of ways to repel unwelcome insects without the use of pesticides. Even if you do everything you can to keep your vegetables healthy and free of pests, you might still need to turn to insecticide.
This doesn’t mean you can’t still have an environmentally friendly garden. There are plenty of organic options:
Neem oil is a naturally occurring oil found in the fruit and seeds of the Neem, an evergreen tree native to India. It is safe for animals and humans in small quantities, but larger doses can be toxic. When diluted in water, Neem oil is an effective organic pesticide.
Neem oil contains azadirachtin, a chemical that kills or repels insects. The smell repels invaders like aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs, and can also kill mites and nematodes. You can keep your garden safe without negatively impacting the environment.
According to Clemson University, Neem oil has a number of uses but is primarily used to suffocate unwanted insects. Note that it can also harm beneficial insects. It’s best to apply this product in the evening when pollinators are less likely to be active.
Naturally Derived Pyrethrin
Pyrethrin is an organic compound found in chrysanthemums. In recent years this compound has become a replacement for other pesticides that are toxic to humans. Pyrethrin works as an insecticide by targeting the nervous system of insects to disrupt motor skills and eventually cause paralysis and death.
Pyrethrin selectively targets insects like ants, spiders, lice, and ticks. Because of their more sensitive nerves, insects respond to pyrethrin when mammals do not. Pyrethrin can cause skin irritation if you touch it but is otherwise low in toxicity toward humans and dogs. Cats are more sensitive to pyrethrin than other mammals.
Spinosad is a chemical compound derived from sugar cane that acts as an effective insecticide. It is typically used in veterinary medicine to prevent fleas and heartworms in pets, and also repels head lice in humans. It also combats flies, beetles, grasshoppers, and ants.
Chemical Active Ingredients
If you don’t mind using inorganic chemicals in your garden, you have several more options to choose from. These active ingredients are manufactured to emulate the effects of organic insecticide ingredients.
One of the many chemicals manufactured to target garden pests is imidacloprid, a neurotoxin that disrupts nerve activity in insects. The chemical is more poisonous to insects than to mammals because it binds more strongly to insect neuron receptors.
Imidacloprid is commonly used to repel termites from building foundations, and controls the outbreak of aphids, beetles, stink bugs, and locusts in agriculture.
Zeta-cypermethrin is a fast-acting insecticide effective against beetles and aphids. The chemical acts on the nervous system of the insect and eventually causes paralysis and death.
The chemical zeta-cypermethrin is a possible carcinogen in humans and can be toxic if accidentally inhaled or ingested. It can cause a numb, burning, or itching sensation, accompanied by cough, nausea, and dizziness. Use protective gloves when handling this chemical, and keep pets away from the garden after spraying.
Permethrin is a pyrethroid, a synthetic chemical designed to emulate the effects of chrysanthemums on invasive insects. It affects insects that eat or touch it by causing spasms, paralysis, and eventual death.
This chemical is more toxic to insects than to humans and dogs but it does have negative effects on mammals. Humans will experience a burning or itching sensation if they touch, inhale, or ingest permethrin.
Watch your animals carefully if you plan on using permethrin as an insecticide. Cats take a longer time to break down permethrin, and they are more sensitive to it than dogs are. Animals may have been exposed to permethrin if they twitch their ears or paws, roll on the ground, drool, or even have seizures. In a large enough dose, permethrin can even be fatal to pets.
9 Insecticides For Vegetable Gardens Reviewed
Before using insecticides in your garden, make sure you have tried cultural remedies first. To prevent pests from invading your garden, make sure to keep your plants watered, pruned, and fertilized. Insects are more drawn to decomposing matter, and healthy plants are less likely to attract them.
Sometimes insects find their way into your garden no matter what. If you need to resort to insecticides, I recommend one of these. I have listed a mix of organic and chemical insecticides, as well as liquid, granule, and dust varieties.
1. Bonide Ready-To-Use Neem Oil Vegetables & Fruit
This insecticide uses Neem oil. It is safe for humans and animals in small quantities but contains the chemical azadirachtin, which kills or repels insects.
Bonide Neem Oil is effective against the egg, larval, and adult stages of insect development, and can also be used to combat mild powdery mildew outbreaks in your garden. Some of the insects repelled by this insecticide include spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies.
I prefer to use an organic product whenever I can but especially when treating areas growing edible produce. The trigger bottle was simple enough and did not leak or drip. I know I’m not asking for much here but it’s amazing how often some spray bottles make a mess.
This product was 100% effective after one use in all of my trials, and it is reasonably priced….that’s why Bonide Neem Oil is my top pick for the best insecticide for vegetable gardens.
Pick up Bonide Neem Oil on Amazon.com
- Targets all three stages of insect development: the egg, larvae, and adult insect
- I had success after one spray, aphids did not return, so tested and proven to work
- Drip-free spray bottle
- Nothing at this price
2. Natria Neem Oil Spray For Vegetables & Fruit, Ready-To-Use
Another excellent product, Natria Neem Oil is an organic insecticide effective on both indoor and outdoor plants. You can use it on roses, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and it is safe to use on your plants up to the day of harvest.
The active ingredient in Natria Neem Oil is an organic compound that controls outbreaks of aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites in an environmentally friendly way. It is also effective against black spot and mildew that may infest your garden.
I didn’t need to measure or dilute this solution, as it comes pre-diluted and ready to use in a spray bottle. While this is convenient, the potency of the insecticide may decrease over time when mixed with water.
I honestly could not differentiate between Bonide and Natria in terms of results, they were both fantastic. However, when I purchased my trial samples the Bonide cost less, and on that basis Natria comes in a close second place.
Check Natria Neem Oil latest price
- Safe to use on your plants up until the day of harvest
- Excellent results from a single application
- Chemicals in pre-diluted solutions become less effective over time.
3. Bio-Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable Insect Control
Bio-Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable is specially formulated to protect fruit-bearing trees from infestations of harmful insects. It kills Asian Citrus Psyllids and protects your plants even after the first infestation is gone. It serves as season-long, rainproof protection from destructive insects.
The active ingredient in this insecticide is imidacloprid, a chemical that interferes with the central nervous system of invading insects like aphids, thrips, leafhoppers, and whiteflies. It is also effective against scale insects that tend to attack fruiting trees. Scale insects can be difficult to eradicate because they excrete a coating of wax to protect them once attached to trees.
Buy Bio-advanced online here
- Special formula protects over 100 kinds of fruits and vegetables, including citrus trees.
- The active ingredient is imidacloprid, a manufactured chemical.
4. Monterey Garden Insect Spray, Insecticide With Spinosad
To combat leafminers, moths, borers, and fire ants, use an insecticide that contains the organic compound spinosad. Monterey Garden Insect Spray contains spinosad and is an environmentally friendly way to protect your garden from pests.
When used as an insecticide, Monterey Garden Insect Spray targets flies, beetles, grasshoppers, and ants. The spray starts to work on insects after they ingest it, so it may take a few days to take effect. You can use this insecticide even if it’s almost harvest time. You can harvest within a few days of spraying your plants.
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- Organic and safe to use around family and pets in small quantities.
- Must be ingested by the insects to kill them. This insecticide takes a few days to work.
5. Sevin 5 Percentage Dust Bug Killer For Edibles
There is no need for mixing or measuring with this insecticide. Sevin 5 Percentage Dust Bug Killer for Vegetables comes in a canister ready to apply to your garden. Simply shake a layer of dust over your plants that are smaller than chest height. For taller plants, I suggest using a liquid spray insecticide.
This insecticide is effective in controlling ants, beetles, aphids, and 65 more kinds of insects that prey on your edible plants. Unfortunately, Seven 5 Percent Dust also targets useful pollinating insects like bees.
The active ingredient in this insecticide is carbaryl, a man-made chemical that is repellent to insects. Sevin 5 Percentage Dust is made with manufactured chemicals, so it is unsuitable if you are trying to maintain an organic garden.
Check Sevin 5 latest price here
- It is simple and easy to apply dust insecticide to your plants.
- Dust insecticide may wash away if it rains unexpectedly.
6. Sevin Gardentech Ready To Spray Insect Killer
This ready-to-spray insect killer comes in a concentrated form but connects to your garden hose to dilute the insecticide as it sprays. Sevin Gardentech Ready To Spray Insect Killer is effective against hundreds of pests, including whiteflies, thrips, beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, and scale insects. However, it also kills honeybees and other beneficial insects, so use it with caution.
The active ingredient is 0.35% Zeta-cypermethrin, a chemical that is toxic to humans if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. Wear protective gloves when handling this ready-to-spray insect killer.
Find Sevin Gardentech on Amazon here
- This product is a concentrated insecticide that doesn’t require measuring or mixing. All you have to do is attach the bottle to your garden hose and turn on the water.
- Kills honey bees and other beneficial insects.
7. Bonide Insect Control Granules Imidacloprid Insecticide
Bonide Insect Control Granules are a systemic pesticide, which means that they are absorbed into your plants through the roots. This makes them effective against scale insects, which are almost impossible to remove from the outside due to their secretion of a wax covering once attached to your plants.
Bonide Insect Control Granules contain 0.22% imidacloprid, a manufactured chemical that targets the nervous system of invading insects. The granules are effective against aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, leaf miners, and scale insects.
This insecticide is more effective against insects than mammals since it more readily bonds to insect neurons. It is still wise to keep your family and pets away from this insecticide since it can be moderately toxic if ingested or if it gets on your skin.
Check Bonide Insect Control Granules price here
- Systemic, long-lasting protection from invading insects, even after rainfall.
- Non-organic. Contains the manufactured chemical imidacloprid.
8. Southern Ag Natural Pyrethrin Concentrate
Southern Ag Natural Pyrethrin Concentrate contains pyrethrin, an organic compound found in chrysanthemums. It degenerates quickly in the environment and, for this reason, is one of the safest insecticides on the market.
Pyrethrin, the active ingredient, is effective against whiteflies, aphids, beetles, and worms. Unfortunately, it is also toxic to bees, so I advise applying this insecticide at nighttime when pollinating insects are absent. Pyrethrin is less toxic to humans and mammals. Because they are smaller, cats are more sensitive to the toxicity of pyrethrin than humans and dogs.
Check Southern Ag price on Amazon
- Pyrethrin is an organic compound, and makes an environmentally friendly insecticide.
- Pyrethrin is toxic to humans and other mammals in larger quantities.
9. Ortho Insect Mite & Disease 3-In-1 For Vegetables
Ortho Insect Mite & Disease 3-In-1 For Vegetables can be used against invasive insects up until the day before harvest. It controls outbreaks of aphids, Japanese beetles, spider mites, whiteflies, caterpillars, and many more insects that are listed on the label. It is also effective in combating fungal diseases in plants.
This insecticide is pre-diluted and does not require any measuring or mixing. This makes it convenient to use but pre-diluted insecticides lose their potency over time as the chemicals break down in the water.
Ortho Insect Mite & Disease contains pyrethrin as its active ingredient. Even though it’s organic, it can still be toxic to humans and pets in larger doses, particularly cats. Pyrethrin breaks down quickly in the environment, though.
Find Ortho Insect online here
- In addition to controlling insects, this insecticide works against fungal diseases.
- This is a pre-diluted insecticide, and will become less effective over time.
How To Keep Bugs From Eating Your Vegetable Garden
The internet is positively ‘crawling’ with gadgets and products that you can buy to keep bugs from eating your vegetable garden. Most are effective at treating problems but did you ever consider the possibility of working with nature rather than against it? I’ve been vegetable gardening for the last 15 years or so and one thing I can say with certainty is that bugs will always find a way into your vegetable garden and wreak havoc unless you are prepared and ahead of the game.
Here’s a rundown of my top tips and tricks for out-smarting bugs and preventing them from eating your precious harvest before having to reach for the insecticide:
- The health of your plants and the soil in which they are planted is a key factor in helping to prevent bug infestations. Pests are typically attracted to disease so good garden husbandry and nutritious soil that is free from decay and rot from windfall crops will encourage healthy disease-free plants and deter bugs.
- Rather than uniformly planting rows of the same crop, give companion planting a try. Tomatoes planted with basil are an example of companion planting that’s been passed down throughout the ages along with planting aromatic herbs such as rosemary and dill with brassicas. I like to plant sweet peas with my bean crop and also borage with my strawberry plants. Not only does this confuse and deter insects, it also looks pretty both in the garden and when used as cut flowers.
- Encourage beneficial insects and other creatures to your garden to eat the pests that are eating your produce. Ladybugs love plant-eating insects and will happily munch their way through aphids and other pests that are damaging your crops. And — bonus — they won’t be interested in chomping your crops. You can either harvest these yourself or buy them online or at garden stores. Attracting birds to your garden will also help to keep pests such as slugs and snails under control.
Even when you have diligently checked your plants and remained vigilant throughout the growing season there are of course occasions when an infestation occurs and it simply needs intervention to be effectively treated. First things first, it is best to cut out the infestation whether that be the leaves of a plant or branches from a fruiting tree. It’s better to lose part of your harvest than all of it. Thereafter, reach for the insecticide.
What Is the Best Insect Spray For Tomato Plants?
Tomatoes are plagued mostly by sap-sucking insects like aphids, leaf-eating insects like the leafminer and the Colorado potato beetle, and worms that eat their way through tomato fruits.
For these tomato pests, I recommend using an insecticide that contains spinosad, like Monterey Garden Insect Spray. It will take a few days for the insects to ingest it, but the good news is the insecticide doesn’t stay on the plant long. You can harvest within a few days of applying the spray.
What To Spray On Green Beans For Bugs
The most common pests to infest bean crops are beetles and mites, so to protect your beans I recommend Ortho Insect Mite & Disease 3-in-1 for Vegetables. Ortho 3-in-1 controls beetles and mites in addition to a lot of other pests. It is also effective against fungus. This spray is organic and can be used on your plants up until the day before you harvest your beans.
How To Keep Bugs Off Plants Without Pesticides
If you want to keep pests away from your vegetables without using pesticides, there are a few things you can do to keep your garden safe. Invasive insects are attracted to decomposing matter. If you keep your compost far away from your plants, the pests will be less tempted to be in your garden. Also, make sure your plants themselves are healthy.
Biodiversity is another good way to deter insects. Plant flowers among your vegetables. Petunias are excellent for repelling many different invasive bugs, and their presence in your garden will help keep your crops safe.
Best Insecticide For Vegetable Gardens Round-Up
I never tire of sharing my vegetable growing knowledge and trust that you have found some useful food for thought in this article.
Each and every gardener has differing needs based on where we live, what we are growing, and our own personal gardening preferences. Now it’s up to you to decide which of my picks will meet your needs. Will it be Bonide Ready-To-Use Neem Oil for Vegetables & Fruit, an organic, ready-to-use spray that not only helps to prevent infestations and fungus diseases but also treats them if an outbreak occurs? Alternatively, you might go for Bio-advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable. This synthetic insecticide is rainproof and designed to protect fruit-bearing trees and vegetable plants from infestations of over 100 varieties of harmful insects.
Alternatively, if your infestation is related to other pests such as flies, beetles, grasshoppers, and ants, you may prefer Monterey Garden Insect Spray. This one contains the organic compound spinosad which means you can use it right up to harvest time and is an environmentally friendly way to protect your garden from pests.
Whatever choice you make, just remember that the occasional bug or pest infestation is all part of nature and one that has been considered, discussed, and dealt with by gardeners and crop growers since time immemorial!