Neem oil has a reputation as being one of the safest insecticides, fungicides, and miticides. As plant owners, you must have come across various pests during the growing season. However, many plant owners are curious to know the answer to “what bugs does neem oil kill?”
This article discusses the answer to this popular query in detail.
How the Neem Oil Works as a Pesticide?
Before discussing “what bugs does neem oil kill?” let’s discuss how neem oil works as an effective pesticide.
It’s a popular misconception that, like every other insecticide, neem oil also kills bugs upon immediate contact. In contrast, neem oil’s way of treating pest infestation is gradual and more effective.
Azadirachtin is the main compound found in neem oil that alters the functions of a bug and reduces its ability to infest. Over time, the population of these bugs decreases. Here’s how neem oil affects the pest population:
- Insects get a nausea-like sensation after munching on foliage covered in neem oil. They would hence stay away from the plants.
- Neem oil inhibits the production of growth enzymes in pests that significantly hinder them from moving from one life stage to another. For instance, larvae can’t grow into adults, etc.
- Adult pests lose their sexual reproductive hormone and stop mating, while female insects can’t form eggs or reproduce deformed larvae.
Neem Oil for Nematodes
Nematodes are one of the most popular parasites for plants. The root-knot nematodes have a reputation for wounding the roots while feeding. This attack makes the plants vulnerable to certain infections.
People have used neem oil in their gardens for ages to reduce the hazardous population of nematodes. The oil alters the properties of eggs and doesn’t allow them to hatch into proper larvae. Thus, the population of nematodes gradually reduces.
Neem Oil for Insects
Aphids, mealy bugs, beetles, thrips, leafhoppers, caterpillars, and other insects are popular garden pests and eat away foliage while harming the plant. If you find holes in your plant’s leaves and stems, it’s likely due to an insect attack.
Neem oil spray effectively reduces the population of more than 200 insect species in your garden. Azadirachtin performs its function and attacks insects by disrupting their growth and reproductive hormones. The compound also repels these bugs, creating a nausea-like sensation upon feeding.
That’s how the population of insects gradually leaves your garden.
Neem Oil for Fungi
Powdery mildew, black spot, blight, and rust are some of the most common fungi in your garden. These species attack various systems of the plants and penetrate deeper into the tissues to harm the plants.
You can easily use a neem oil spray to eliminate these fungi species and protect your plants from the diseases they cause. However, don’t overspray, or else you’ll burn the plant. Once a week is enough to eliminate a large infestation.
While neem oil works well for killing fungi, it works exceptionally well for preventing fungal attacks too. Hence, treating your plants with neem oil every two weeks will keep the fungi from growing on your plants again.
Neem Oil for Mites
Spider mites are the most common garden pests and leave plants with holes due to the feeding of plant fluids. The foliage turns yellow before shedding.
Neem oil works incredibly well to reduce these mites’ population by smothering them, as they don’t have an entirely developed system. Hence, neem oil spray eliminates both, whether it’s an infestation of adult mites or larvae.
Does Neem Oil Attack Beneficial Earthworms and Pollinators?
A huge concern for some plant owners isn’t “What bugs does neem oil kill?” Instead, it’s how neem oil interacts with beneficial earthworms and pollinators. Hence, many plant owners commonly look for answers to “Is neem oil safe for bees?”
It’s a popular belief that since azadirachtin, the compound found in neem oil, is highly harmful to common garden pests, it’s also potent for killing pollinators. However, that’s not the case.
There are two ways to go about it:
- Pollinators and other beneficial insects aren’t pests. They don’t feed on the plants or leave the foliage affected through their secretions or feeding. Therefore, they don’t ingest the neem oil that’s mainly on the leaves of a plant in a thin film. Since there’s no ingestion, there’s no harm to these beneficial species.
- Azadirachtin is potent enough to disrupt the normal functions of lower-order animals easily. However, the compound doesn’t cause any harm to higher-order animals with more developed systems. That’s one of the reasons neem oil is approved as safe for pets by the EPA. Hence, pollinators such as ladybugs, bees, and other essential earthworms aren’t under threat due to neem oil treatment.
Is neem oil safe for bees? It certainly is.
What bugs does neem oil kill? Neem oil is one of the safest insecticides, fungicides, and miticides. The chemical can easily repel bugs and wipe off their population from your garden. The compound azadirachtin found in neem oil is highly potent for these species and hinders the life stages from reducing their population.
If you want to treat your plants with neem oil without harming the beneficial pollinators, you can do so effectively. Neem oil doesn’t disrupt the more developed systems of pollinators who also don’t feed on the plants or harm them by feeding.
Treat your plants with neem oil once a week to allow the plants some breathing time. You want to eliminate bugs without burning the plants. Once the infestation has been reduced, spray once every two weeks to prevent the pests from returning. Good luck!