The Dirt On Insecticidal Soap

Hungry garden insects love our fresh, homegrown produce almost as much as we do – and they can wreak havoc on plants seemingly overnight, damaging veggies and reducing plant production. To combat plant pests, every gardener needs an arsenal of knowledge and a trusty, all-purpose garden insect control product up his or her sleeve. Insecticidal soap is an easy-to-use, highly effective, plant-friendly option, making it great for growing organic herbs, fruits and vegetables. Learning about insecticidal soap and how best to use it in organic gardening can help keep you harvesting garden veggies all summer long.

How does insecticidal soap work?
Insecticidal soaps, including Garden Safe® Brand Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer, consist of potassium salts of fatty acids. This mixture disrupts the permeability and structure of insects’ cell membranes, killing them through contact. Insecticidal soap can be used in the garden over time without concern that pests will adapt to it.

Don’t confuse insecticidal soap with weed-killing herbicidal soaps like Garden Safe® Brand Weed & Grass Killer. You might notice the active ingredients sound similar, but herbicidal soaps will kill weeds and other vegetation – possibly including your garden plants.

What does it control?
Insecticidal soap is strictly for use on soft-bodied insects. It works well on common pests like aphids, lacebugs, mealybugs, mites, leaf hoppers, scale insects, spider mites, thrips and whiteflies. It will kill soft-bodied lacebug nymphs (an immature life stage) but it won’t damage their hard eggs. Being familiar with the life cycles of common plant bugs and when they’re most susceptible will help you be more successful in using insecticidal soap to control them.

Hard-bodied insects, like beetles, won’t be affected by insecticidal soaps. Pick up Garden Safe® Brand Crawling Insect Killer Containing Diatomaceous Earth to control insects with hard exoskeletons. Insecticidal soap can only be used on a few species of caterpillars, so consider hand-picking caterpillars or treating with Garden Safe® Brand Bt Worm & Caterpillar Killer.

How do you use it?
For insecticidal soap to be effective, it needs to be sprayed directly on the insect. It’s not a systemic insecticide that gets absorbed into the plant, so it will only be effective against bugs when it contacts them. This is why it’s essential to cover all plant surfaces when treating with insecticidal soap (including the undersides of plant leaves, where many insects like to hide from the elements and predators).

When can you use it?
Spraying insecticidal soap on hot, sunny days can stress your plants and lead to leaf burn. Spray in the morning and on cloudy days. A few cultivars of common flowers like begonia and impatiens can be extra sensitive to insecticidal soap, so test first if you’re not sure your variety will tolerate: Spray a single leaf and wait 24 hours to make sure the leaf doesn’t show any sign of scorching.

You can use Garden Safe® Brand Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer right up until the day you harvest, so there’s no need to worry about residues on your herbs, fruits and veggies. In fact, this formula is OMRI Listed® for use in organic gardening. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) independently reviews products to ensure they meet the strict standards set for certified organic production and processing. Look for the OMRI Listed® logo on this and other Garden Safe® products to know you’re using pest controls that qualify.

Insecticidal soaps, including Garden Safe® Brand Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer, can be effective tools in your battle against garden pests. By using it tactically, you will be able to keep listed pest populations down and protect your plants from insect damage.