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Beginner Houseplants: Home made bug spray

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mistygardener
Saint James, MO
(Zone 6b)

December 14, 2007
3:54 PM

Post #4294137

Hi all. A friend of mine gave me a concoction of Pine Sol and water to use as a spray on my house plants and green house plants. I was wondering if anyone else has ever tried this method, and how it has worked for them? In using it, I have seen that the little critters sure don't like it, AND it smells good using the Rain Clean scent. I used it last night for the first time and was almost afraid to look at my plants this morning for fear they might be dead, but she swears by it, so thought I would give it a go. The store bought stuff was doing absolutely NOTHING, and I needed to get rid of the bugs cause they would end up dying on me anyway if I didn't. She does make sure that it says "Biodegradable" on the bottle. Thanks for your thoughts, and/or suggestions!
mistygardener
Saint James, MO
(Zone 6b)

December 14, 2007
8:43 PM

Post #4294940

Anyone have any thoughts or ideas on this? Thanks
doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

December 14, 2007
8:47 PM

Post #4294950

Well, I use well diluted dish soap or safer insecticidal soap, never heard of using Pinesol. Always better to "test" a small area to make sure you have the right dilution.
mistygardener
Saint James, MO
(Zone 6b)

December 14, 2007
8:50 PM

Post #4294960

It is a 32 ounce bottle with just enough to cover the bottom of the bottle, so not very strong. How do you mix your dish soap? If this don't work then I will try that. When I went to the green house I found the worst ones and just started spraying the bugs and it stopped them in their tracks. Donno for sure if it killed them, but they sure quit moving.
doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

December 14, 2007
8:53 PM

Post #4294968

Well, first of all what kind of bugs are you trying to get rid of?
mistygardener
Saint James, MO
(Zone 6b)

December 14, 2007
8:57 PM

Post #4294983

Well, I can't tell you names for sure since I am a newbie, but I have the teeny tiny little flies and what another has called white fly? I also seem to have I guess spider mites as I have a cactus with a web on it? I need all the help I can get since I still have SOOOOOOO much to learn! Thanks!
doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

December 15, 2007
1:08 AM

Post #4295538

Ok, what kind of plants do you have them on? Check the bug files under guides and info. You should be able to get all kinds of info on there including pictures. I do better with pictures...LOL
mistygardener
Saint James, MO
(Zone 6b)

December 15, 2007
1:17 AM

Post #4295561

Well, they are on a lot of them, and TOO many plants to mention! LOL Unfortunately, our puter crashed and just got it fixed, so no pics for now. That, and I am preoccupied with my two new baby puppies! :) We got a girl, then a boy, but with her first little I guess she is done.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

December 15, 2007
1:29 AM

Post #4295597

Webs could mean actual spiders rather than spider mites, and if that's the case then you're better off not spraying anything, spiders will eat the bad bugs that bother your plants. I'm not sure what spider mites on a cactus would look like, but on other plants that have normal leaves, you can tell you have them because there'll be this stippled yellow pattern on the leaves, and if you look at the underside of the leaves you will see little teeny tiny brownish red dots, and maybe some webbing if the infestation is bad.

As far as using Pine Sol on plants...if you had the pine one it has real pine oil in it which might have some effect on nasty bugs, but the other scents I think it's basically the same as using any other kind of soapy solution on them, except Pine Sol is more concentrated and has more potentially nasty stuff in it than things like dish soap, so you're running a bigger risk of hurting your plants. Personally I'd go buy some insecticidal soap, from a natural/environmental standpoint it's better than Pine Sol plus it was designed to be used on plants, so you know you're not going to hurt your plants with it.
mistygardener
Saint James, MO
(Zone 6b)

December 15, 2007
2:45 AM

Post #4295805

Thanks as usual ecrane! Do you know a name of what I would be asking for on the other? I would much rather have something that I could mix and use it as often as I needed so as to keep them gone. The other stuff that was recommended isn't doing a thing and I wondered if maybe it just wasn't strong enough? I don't want to lose any of my plants, from bugs or anything else, so I want to learn as MUCH as I can! Thanks again! :)
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

December 15, 2007
3:55 AM

Post #4295972

I use Garden Safe or Safer brand insectidal soap--the ones I buy come in a spray bottle that's ready to use without diluting, you just spray it on. I'm not sure if they come in a concentrated form that you mix yourself or not. Out here they carry them everywhere, eve places like Lowes and Home Depot, but I'm not sure if that's true in your area or not. Anything that has insecticidal soap in the name is usually the same active ingredients, so I don't think the brand matters, just look for insecticidal soap in the name.

The other thing you could try for the whiteflies is to top dress your containers with worm castings--a couple people posted on the hibiscus forum earlier this year that worm castings work wonders for preventing problems with whiteflies. It's more of a preventative though and might not work instantly, so you may need to spray them with something to give the worm castings a chance to work.
mistygardener
Saint James, MO
(Zone 6b)

December 15, 2007
4:07 AM

Post #4296021

Garden Safe-Houseplant and Garden Insect Spray is what I have, but I see nothing on it that says anything about insecticidal soap. It says active ingredients are:
Pyrethrins-0.01 %
Canola Oil-1.00 %
Inert Ingredients-98.99 %
And this is what the specialist at Lowe's recommended, but it isn't doing a thing. One thing I do recall seeing yesterday while at Lowe's was something called NEEM? Guess I will just have to go look myself for what you are referring to, as I believe I trust your judgment over hers.
Now, about worm castings? I am at another loss! But, whats new?! LOL
Someone had also told me about something you can add to your potting mix, but I can't recall what, or who, it was that told me.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

December 15, 2007
4:34 AM

Post #4296159

Garden Safe is a brand, they make a bunch of different products with different actives. One of them is the insecticidal soap, but it'll say that in the name, and as the active ingredient it'll list potassium salts of fatty acids. Chances are if your Lowes carries the one GardenSafe product, they'll carry some of their others too (they make a neem product too)

Neem is good too--I think it kills a few more things than insecticidal soap does. It smells worse though which is why I usually prefer the soap (about the only place I use any pesticides is in the greenhouse in the winter, and since it's a small space I don't like to stink it up with neem!)

The key thing for taking care of any pest is to figure out what your pest is, and then make sure that it shows up on the label of the product you buy to kill it with. Not every pesticide will kill every bug, so you have to make sure you get the right one. I don't have whiteflies, so I don't know if the insecticidal soap would work on them or not, but if it does it'll say it on the label.

The thing you heard about to add to your potting mix might be imidacloprid--Bayer Advanced is the most common brand name but there are probably others. It's a systemic insecticide, which means it gets absorbed through the plants' roots and sticks around in the leaves and continues to kill insects over time. I'm not sure if it's meant for houseplants though or if it's supposed to stay outside, it's not the friendliest stuff around. Personally I don't like the idea of it outdoors either, it doesn't discriminate between good bugs and bad bugs and since it sticks around and keeps working for a long time, you can do a lot of collateral damage to the good bugs. Basically the worm castings have a similar effect (at least on whiteflies) but they won't hurt anything else. I don't know if you'll be able to find them locally or not, but google "worm castings" and you'll probably find a billion places that sell them, they're very popular among organic gardeners.
mistygardener
Saint James, MO
(Zone 6b)

December 15, 2007
4:44 AM

Post #4296217

From what my gardener friend told me I have white flies, but the others are teensy weensy flies that mainly stay around the soil? I do have something that is eating on my Hardy Banana leaves, but I am not sure what it might be? My green house is very small, too, so I wouldn't want something that was very strong and have to breathe it. I will definitely look for the insecticidal soap and try that. I will also Google the worm casting and see what I can come up with.
Ecrane-might I ask you how long you have been gardening? You have so much knowledge it is amazing!
Thanks again!
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

December 15, 2007
5:01 AM

Post #4296285

Please look at the label on the soap before you buy it--I'm not sure if it kills whiteflies or not so I'd hate for you to waste your money. I'm pretty sure Neem will take care of them, so if the soap doesn't then I'd try it instead.

The teensy flies near the soil could be fungus gnats--they tend to hang out near the soil when things are a bit damp. There are several threads around here about them--unfortunately I can't remember what forum they were in, I just know there are threads where people gave a number of suggestions of how to deal with them. Some things that I remember from the thread that people said worked...Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis...often sold as "Mosquito Dunks"), yellow sticky traps, and watering with some dilute hydrogen peroxide. The other thing I would do is watch how much you're watering--I have never seen fungus gnats around my plants except when I was being a little heavy handed with the watering can!

I actually haven't been gardening all that long--only about the last 4-5 years really. I had some plants before that, but I really didn't get into gardening or start learning about it until 4-5 years ago. Most of what I know I learned here, or by learning from my own mistakes, and I also read a lot of gardening books and magazines. So keep hanging out here and before you know it, you'll know tons of stuff too!
plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

December 15, 2007
5:43 AM

Post #4296337

Hi Misty: First - Congratulations on the new puppies! Hope you will be able to post a photo soon, they sound sooo cute! I miss having a dog in the family! Someday we will adopt another dog but for the time being we have 4 cats, one being pretty old (we think @ 20) and the others are 13, 12 and 11!

So sorry to hear about the buggy critters invading your greenhouse and all of your plants! I have used Safer Insecticidal Soap for years and swear by it. They have changed the color of the bottle and it's now called Safer Insect Killing Soap. I buy it at Home Depot and I think it's $4 or $5 bucks for the bottle.

Here's a picture of it:

Thumbnail by plantladylin
Click the image for an enlarged view.

stogeo
Hermitage, TN

December 15, 2007
11:46 AM

Post #4296572

ecrane is correct... the tiny bugs you're seeing are probably fungus gnats. they like damp soil. you can try to let the soil dry down an inch or two, and this will help. methods mentioned are all good.

if you're looking for something cheap, something you already have in the house to use to control bugs, go no further than your medicine cabinet. plain old alcohol will work wonders! put it in a spray bottle, no need to dilute, and mist your plants. It will kill on contact, evaporate quickly, and will cause no harm to the plants. you can mist the top of you the soil too, and it will "help" with the gnats, but you will likely need something a little stronger, or you'll need to repeat this treatments often to rid them. it does help though.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

December 15, 2007
1:23 PM

Post #4296721

fungus gnats- I've read to top the soil with sand.
shune
Burien, WA
(Zone 7b)

December 15, 2007
8:52 PM

Post #4298022

I've been told the fungus gnats will not lay their eggs in the sand, therefore, they should eventually die out.
doccat5
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

December 15, 2007
9:00 PM

Post #4298040

Please check this site for more info: you do use BT but these are a different strain. The Bacillus thuringiensis viral strain is specific only to moths and catepillars. http://www.doityourself.com/stry/fungusgnats
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

December 16, 2007
2:33 AM

Post #4299073

Hi Misty, really sorry about the bugs you have, Ecrane has given you all the advice I would have given you, the only thing to say is that the kitchen dish washing up soap works on greenfly very well so long as you dilute it well, it has on oil added to it so it sticks to the flies and prevents them from moving and feeding, remember to mist under the leaves also as they hide out there too, in fact no mater what type of spray you use, do the undersides of all the leaves so they dont crawl from under once you have sprayed. the fungus gnats on the soil are really harmless, more unsightly than anything else, but remember, other bugs can stick to them and then get transferred from plant to plant as they fly around. For Red Spider Mite, the soap wont help at all, they are one of the most dreaded bugs around as they suck the sap as fast as you can tell you have this problem, Ecrane told you the sure signs of them, the VERY fine webs, I mean like angels hair, to spot the actual Mites, you would require a magnifying glass as they are so small, dont be fooled by the name Red Spiders as they only change to red when the females are mature and want to mate, believe me, they mate fast, if you have one Red Mite, she will lay a couple hundred eggs at a time, after a few weeks these babies will be breading and before you know it, you have thousands of them all over your plants, the best way to reduce the infestation is by misting with water every day as they dont like humid, just the leaves thou, dont water the plants as well as misting, unless you have heat in your small greenhouse, red spiders will stop breading and a lot will go hide somewhere warm for the winter in your zone as they need heat to survive, they hibernate in crevices and cracks, so please check and be sure this is the bug you have before you try spraying for them, in cold greenhouse, without heat, you should have stopped watering so much by now and just water enough to stop the soil from going bone dry, just enough to prevent the plants from dying off as they will want a winter rest period, especially with the shorter days and less light going about in the winter months, tropical plants are much hardier than we think so try cutting way back on the water and this will also reduce the little flies you have, green fly wont survive in a cooler area also but they will eat all in sight till they die off so spray for them as you see them, for your plants to survive the winter, they just require an above freezing temp for winter protection, do also remember, that some Cacti do have a web looking membrane around them, but without knowing which ones you have, I cant tell if this is normal or an infestation, if normal, then this membrane only comes as and when the Cacti is matured enough. hope all this info from everyone helps you out a bit. Good Luck. WeeNel.

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