Insect spray

Person spraying insecticide on plants (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Unsplash)

It takes time and effort to grow a beautiful garden. The last thing anyone wants to see is those plants and flowers becoming a meal for insects. Luckily, using the best insecticide can stop those pesky little buggers from munching on your greenery.

Of course, the science behind bug battling is still evolving. A study from Pennsylvania State University found diffusing a smell that translates to fear in certain insects, can keep them from destroying your garden. The special odor is made up of compounds produced by ladybugs, a natural predator of plant-eating insects which gardeners and farmers welcome as a kind of natural pest control. Pests that catch a whiff of the stuff will change their behavior, thinking predators are nearby.

Plants don’t want to be under insect invasion. In fact, a recent study shows that tomatoes send out an electric “warning” signal to the rest of the plant when insects attack. The alarm system is so sensitive, even the tiny footsteps of a caterpillar can set it off. With the right insecticide, a tomato’s alarm can rest and so can you knowing your garden is safe to flourish.

There are tons of natural based and chemical solutions available to stop those bugs in their tracks. So how do you choose the right insecticide to keep your garden thriving? StudyFinds compiled a list of the top five best insecticides from ten expert websites to keep bugs in your garden at bay. As always, we’d like to see your own recommendations in the comments below! 

Woman spraying insecticide on her plants
Woman spraying insecticide on her plants (Photo by Trung Thanh on Unsplash)

The List: Best Insecticides, According to Expert Reviews


1. Neem Oil

This natural pesticide comes from Neem tree seeds and fruits. “Neem oil is very effective at controlling pests and plant diseases. Neem oil is a mixture of components. Azadirachtin is its most active component and it repels and kills pests. It can also make it harder for insects to grow and lay eggs,” according to MorningChores

Amazon's bestseller: Neem Bliss Pure Neem Oil
Amazon’s bestseller: Neem Bliss Pure Neem Oil

The Gardening Dad points out Neem oil, “should be applied before pests have attacked your vegetable garden. This is a great option for controlling both pests and plant disease.” You can find it for relatively cheap, depending on the size and brand you choose.

“The insecticidal chemical is most concentrated in the seeds. Azadirachtin is the active ingredient, and it’s found in the highest concentration in the seeds. Neem oil has a variety of purposes, but gardeners love it for its antifungal and insecticide characteristics,” adds Harper’s Nurseries.

2. Ortho Home Defense

Use this budget-friendly product from Ortho indoors and outdoors. “It excels in keeping out cockroaches, ants, and spiders. It comes with a handy wand applicator, which aids you in putting down a straight full line without leaking – something you won’t find in many other bug killers. On an additional plus side, this solution is completely odor-free,” according to BumperCrop Times.

Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer

Stoppestinfo notes it comes with, “an extended reach wand or ‘Comfort wand applicator’ which makes spraying easier because of its multiple spray settings and easy-grip handle.” 

“Acting first as a perimeter barrier, it can be applied within 12-inch strips around the home. On the inside, use the handy wand applicator to apply a 4-inch barrier underneath cabinets, along baseboards, and behind appliances. Once in place, control lasts up to twelve months,” adds The Spruce.

However, if you have pets, you may want to consider another option.

3. Diatomaceous Earth (Food Grade)

Another natural insect control method is to place Diatomaceous Earth around your green spaces. It’s safe to use indoors too and is affordable. “Grab the food-grade version (which is considered safe for humans, according to the FDA, USDA, and EPA) and simply sprinkle it on top of your plant’s soil,” according to Brightly.

Fossil Power Diatomaceous Earth (Food Grade)
Fossil Power Diatomaceous Earth (Food Grade)

Bob Vila suggests, “users should feel confident applying the diatomaceous earth to vegetable gardens to protect the plants. It can also be used as needed inside and outside the home to kill ants, roaches, ticks, crickets, and other pests. However, the powder will need to be regularly monitored and replaced because it can be washed away by rain.” 

One thing to note, this is a fine, powdery substance. So you may want to wear some protective gear when applying it. Modern Farmer points out, “diatomaceous earth is used for all crawling, hard-bodied insects (those with an exoskeleton), such as ants, spiders, cabbage root maggots, carrot rust fly larvae, cutworms, and onion root maggots. It also shreds the bodies of snails and slugs.”

4. Monterey Garden Insect Spray

You can use this spray to keep a wide variety of pests away from fruit and vegetable gardens. “Spinosad is the active ingredient in this fast-acting spray. It degrades quickly in the soil, and it is classified as an organic substance by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). It is also OMRI Listed for use in organic production,” according to MorningChores.

Monterey Garden Insect Spray
Monterey Garden Insect Spray

Stoppestinfo points out, “the solution is safe for strawberries, apples, grapes, broccoli, and asparagus. It is almost odorless and easy to apply.” The cost? Between $20-$25, depending on the retailer.

“The only quibble is that the solution becomes a lot less potent when you mix it with water. So make sure you only mix up the amount you’ll immediately use. At the end of the day, this spray is a remarkable choice for organic vegetable gardens. And it’s safe for your pets and kids, too,” notes BumperCrop Times.

5. Bonide Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray

This offering from Bonide gets high marks from reviewers. “This pyrethrin-based product is designed to help eliminate aphids, beetles, webworms, leafhoppers, and a wide range of garden pests. It has a second active ingredient, piperonyl butoxide, which is a man-made synergist often paired with pyrethrin. Keep in mind that this product is a concentrate, so it must be combined with water before you apply it,” according to Minneopa Orchards.

Bonide Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray
Bonide Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray

Harper’s Nurseries points out, pyrethrin is “perfect for organic farming since it swiftly decomposes after eliminating pests from the plants and soil. It is perfectly safe to use around humans, pets, and animals because of its low toxicity.”

“It kills insects by targeting their nervous systems and quickly degrades, leaving no objectionable residue. Bonide Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray is safe to use on vegetables up to the day of harvest. Mix the concentrate with water and apply with a sprinkler can, hand sprayer, or low-pressure sprayer,” adds Bob Vila.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. 

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About Melissa Kraus

Melissa is a freelance writer, based out of New Jersey. She has over two-decades of writing, editing, and producing experience for Radio, TV, and Digital Media.

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