Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
No matter where in the country you live, neem oil is one of the few natural methods that can provide a great deal of benefit to your trees and even your garden. Although it is also used for natural beauty treatments, neem oil is also a popular and effective chemical-free pesticide and insecticide that can keep your trees healthy.
Neem oil is actually a organic pesticide that occurs naturally. It is found in the seeds that come from the neem tree. These seeds to be brown or yellow in color, with a sulfuric or garlic smell and bitter taste. The fruit of the tree appears similar to olives and each fruit has only one seed, but the seed may contain several kernels.Today, instead of simply letting the neem oil naturally leave the seeds, it is pressed out. In fact, neem oil’s abilities as an insecticide were discovered centuries ago, meaning it has already proven its worth as a natural remedy. You can either buy pure neem oil and make an insecticide yourself or find a pre-made one. If you purchase a neem oil product, simply be sure to check that it is all natural.
Compared to other insect control methods, neem oil has many of its own unique benefits. To start off, it is able to attack or discourage the harmful insects while having no negative effect on the beneficial ones. Because neem oil has a very low toxicity, there are no (human) safety concerns associated with using it. Its organic nature also means that there is a very low impact on the environment and you can use it for almost all trees and plants.
The main benefit of neem oil on trees is its ability as a natural insecticide. You can either use a neem oil spray to prevent an infestation of harmful insects and pests, or rely on it to reduce the severity of your current problem. This oil is able to protect against fungal diseases and chewing insects. At the same time, it will even help protect you from insects who bite as they will no longer be attracted to your trees.
Neem oil works to benefit trees by removing harmful insects in several ways. Many oils rely on suffocating the insects so they die and while neem oil does this, it is simply a bonus. The main benefits are the other ways it works to keep away harmful insects.
The ingredients found in neem oil are similar to the hormones in harmful insects and these insects cannot tell the difference, absorbing neem oil as if it were a hormone. When the oil enters a bug’s system, however, it will stop the actual hormones from functioning correctly. This means that bugs will “forget” many things, such as that they should eat, mate, or even lay eggs. Even if a bug exposed to neem oil does produce eggs, either they won’t hatch or the larvae will not molt. Simply put, by upsetting the hormonal balance within the insects, neem oil is able to stop their life cycle. Luckily, these hormonal effects only apply to sucking and chewing insects, although experts are still unsure why or about the specifics of how it works. Simply keep in mind that these hormonal effects may take days to weeks to show results.
Neem oil also prevents bugs from eating your trees as they do not like the oil. Experts have done studies that found that instead of eating a leaf covered with neem oil, insects prefer to starve to death. Such a strong response means that regularly spraying your trees with neem oil will keep harmful insects from eating it. This particular benefit of neem oil applies mostly to leafhoppers or grasshoppers, while the hormonal effects are mainly responsible for other insects leaving your trees alone.
Most pesticide sprays, whether they are natural or chemical, will only work from the outside of the plant. This means that they must be reapplied very frequently in order to be effective. While reapplying neem oil to your trees does help, you will not need to do so as often as with other insecticides. That is because you can actually pour diluted neem oil onto the soil so the trees absorb it. The oil will then start working from the inside out. This method of adding the oil to the soil will typically work best for larger insects as only the inner layers of the tree (typically smaller trees) will have sufficient concentration. It does, however, help somewhat and reduce the need for frequent applications of the oil if you have thinner trees and large bugs.
One of the best things about neem oil is that it protects against a very large range of harmful insects and other pests. These include whiteflies, fruit flies, squash bugs, loopers, ants, hornworms (and tomato fruitworms, melon worms, and cabbage worms), moths, beetles (Japanese, cucumber, Colorado potato, and bean leaf), armyworms, aphids, garden slugs, and garden snails. As a bonus, unlike chemical pesticides which can slowly let pests build up a resistance, no insects will be able to develop a tolerance for neem oil, allowing you to use the same amount every time.
Neem oil only works on chewing and sucking insects and won’t harm beneficial insects in any way. This is a very useful characteristic as you don’t have to worry about accidentally hurting the health of your tree by destroying the helpful insects. To keep these good insects safe, spray the oil very early during the morning or during the late afternoon to evening. Since beneficial insects are active during the day, the spray will be dry before they become active, minimizing their exposure.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about the safety of neem oil, either for your plants or you. In fact, you can even use leftover neem oil as an insect repellant to stop bugs from biting you. The oil is also safe for almost any type of plant in addition to trees, and this includes ornamental and edible ones. Simply be careful to use low concentrations on sensitive plants (trees will be fine) during times of drought.