Proper Use of Insecticidal Soap

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Soap has been used for centuries as an all-purpose pesticide. When sprayed on insects, insecticidal soap breaks down the insect’s protective coating, and causes it to dehydrate and die.

Insecticidal soap is very different than dish water soap! It is specially formulated with fatty acids to kill insects.

Dish washing soap on the other hand contains perfumes and dyes, and in a concentrated form, can be harmful to plants. Therefore, whenever you see “Home Made Insecticidal Soap Recipes” be very careful not to burn your plants!

All soaps are long chain fatty acids, but not all soaps have insecticidal properties. Insecticidal soaps are specifically formulated to have high insect-killing properties, while being safe for most plant species.

The insects must come into direct contact with the spray droplets for the material to be effective. Good coverage is essential.

Insects It Kills

Insecticidal soap is a totally safe and natural product proven to solve insect problems. It’s approved for organic use, and made from naturally occurring plant oils and animal fats. It will control a variety of insects including:

* Aphids
* Mealy bugs
* Spider mites
* Soft brown scale
* Psyllids
* Rose or pear slugs (sawfly larvae)
* Earwigs
* Whiteflies
* Thrips

Safer’s Insecticidal Soap can be used on houseplants, roses, flowers, vegetables, fruits, ornamentals, shrubs, trees or greenhouse plantings.

It does not kill beneficial insects such as ladybugs, praying mantis and others.

Note: Some entomologists have concerns about impact of soaps on soft-bodied immature predators, such as lady beetle and lacewing larvae. No real data has turned up that substantiates these fears, however, until such data surfaces, perhaps refraining from using soaps where there are numbers of these beneficial larvae (until they mature) would be advisable.

How To Apply It

Good spray coverage is essential for good results. Spray it directly onto the insects when they are first sighted on buds, shoots, stems, bark and the underside of leaves. Make sure to wet both sides of the leaves and growing points of the plants.

Some of the new spray technologies that create a “fog-like” spray may also improve coverage. Spraying in the evening or early morning hours so that the spray droplets do not dry out quickly may also improve the effectiveness application.

It is safe to use on shade trees, fruit trees, shrubs, houseplants, flowers and ornamentals.

How Often Apply It

Insecticical soap should be applied weekly for 2 to 3 weeks, and it can be used up to the day of harvest.

Becareful of Burning Foliage (Phytotoxicity)

The soaps have no residual activity toward insects, but repeated applications may have damaging effects on some types of plants. Insecticidal soaps may cause a burn on the foliage of sensitive plants.

In general, some cole crops and certain ornamentals are sensitive to burn caused by soaps. Multiple applications in a short time interval can aggravate phytotoxicity. In addition, water conditioning agents can increase phytotoxicity.

Note: Always test first! Spray a small amount first to make sure your plants are OK before a full-scale application is made.

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