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May 9, 2012 07:40 AM

Homemade insecticide for herbs

I do all of my herb gardening in containers that I keep on my deck, but I always have a problem with insects that like to munch on them, particularly the basil. I remember following a "recipe" for a homemade insect spray that had garlic, liquid soap, and a few other ingredients, but I can't seem to find it now. Does anyone have a recipe they can share? Thanks!

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  1. I don't have a "recipe" for a homemade spray, but you can use insecticidal soap or Thuricide.

    1. Before spraying anything, you would do best to identify what pest is causing the damage. Slugs, for example, could be the cause of your problems with the basil.

      Thuricide (bacillus thuringiensis) only addresses caterpillars and worms.. In other words, it isn't a broad spectrum insecticide that kills the mystery bugs attacking the basil.

      Your problem is a bit unusual as quite a few herbs are not usually bothered by insect pests.

      4 Replies
      1. re: farrago

        Anything 'organic' for slugs/snails that you would recommend other than the common Metaldehyde pellets?

        Also, anyone know of a good solution for whiteflies? I have them attacking everything from basil to tomatoes and oregano.

        1. re: LATrapp

          Insecticidal soap is fairly effective on whitefly larvae but nearly worthless on adults. Pyola, which has pyrethrum in canola oil, from Gardens Alive ( also is more effective on larvae than adults.

          Green lacewing adults and larvae are voracious predators of many tiny insects. I would be wary of using soap or oil sprays if you are stocking green lacewings as they can harm the larvae. See

          Yellow sticky cards will thin out the adults a bit but are more useful as an early monitor. The only thing that is not highly toxic that will really wipe out the adults is temperatures well below freezing.

          Ferric chloride or phosphate baits work pretty well for slugs while providing some iron for the soil. Sluggo is one brand.

          1. re: Eldon Kreider

            Wow, thanks Eldon. I really appreciate the reply. I'll dive into your suggestions and report back with results!

            Some random observations:

            - This whiteflies are skittish! So, yes, I can see why the soap isn't took effective on them. They fly away in a cloud whenever I start spraying. But good to know I'm at least getting the larvae. Also great to know the lacewings help. I see them around and never pay too much attention, but now will be sure not to mistakenly spray one.

            - I've thought about putting out yellow sticky traps even this morning. But I have no use if they just give me a warning. Way too late for that! I might give them a try to see if I can catch the whiteflies in any great amount. I've heard just a yellow stake coated with vaseline can do the trick.

            - I'll be picking up the sluggo this weekend!

            1. re: LATrapp

              The yellow sticky traps provide more than a warning but a lot less than full control. Look at it as a quarter of a loaf is better than none. Sticky traps are more effective if they are put out before the whiteflies have had too much time to multiply. Anything yellow with a sticky surface will do.

      2. My mom always used some liquid ivory soap, white vinegar and dried garlic. Never had a recipe, just mixed it up and it worked. Made the yard smell like salad dresssing!

        1 Reply
        1. re: mojoeater

          +1 for this recipe. That smell always reminds me of my mom!!

        2. My recipe is:

          Pint volume spray bottle
          small squeeze of dishwashing liquid
          about the same amount of vegetable oil
          fill with water
          shake vigorously before spraying

          The only bugs I've ever had on herbs have been spittle bugs in my rosemary, and they just get a blast of water from the hose.