Neem oil can be an effective and affordable method of pest control for those individuals looking to rid their garden of harmful insects without any adverse chemicals. Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), a type of evergreen indigenous to India and Pakistan.
Traditionally used as cooking oil, neem oil is the key ingredient in non-pesticidal management (NPM), and provides a natural alternative to commonly used synthetic pesticides. Neem seeds are ground into a fine powder then soak overnight in water. The solution is then sprayed onto crops and soil. Neem oil differs from traditional pesticides in that it does not kill insects directly, but merely acts as a deterrent, repelling insects from feeding or laying eggs on crops. In addition, eggs lain previous to spraying are suppressed from hatching by the chemical properties of the solution.
Neem oil has been shown to repel a sweeping array of common garden pests including aphids, cabbage worms, ants, bedbugs, cockroaches, houseflies, snails, mosquitoes, and the Japanese beetle. Neem oil has not been found to be harmful to mammals, birds, earthworms, or beneficial insects such as honeybees, butterflies, and ladybugs.
Concentrated neem oil can be purchased in many health food stores as well as many hardware stores. The solution is a simple mixture of 2 quarts of warm water, with ½ ounce of neem oil added slowly with a ½ teaspoon of mild liquid soap as a catalyst. The solution should be used within 8 hours of creation or it will lose potency. One should spray the surface of leaves as well as saturate the surrounding soil. It is most effective to spray neem oil in the early morning and early evening to avoid evaporation in the sun as well as the repellent of beneficial insects.
Neem oil is an effective and natural way to rid garden pests in one's home garden. However one should still use caution when handling it, especially if pregnant. Avoid drinking neem oil directly. In addition, as with all produce, one should wash fruits, vegetables, and herbs thoroughly before consumption or cooking.
-"Neem: India's Miraculous Healing Plant" by Ellen Norten and Jean Putz