Neem Oil

One of the most versatile pest control tools in the garden is Neem Oil. As an insecticide Neem kills small soft-bodied insects like Aphids, Mealybugs, Mites, Thrips and Whiteflies on contact. Spraying Neem Oil as a knockdown followed by releases of generalist beneficial insects, like Green Lacewing, is a good way to minimize pest populations that are already present in the growing area. For organic growers, Neem Oil allows spot treatment to occur with minimal impact on the "good bugs" or surrounding environment.

How Does Neem Oil Work?

One of the main components of Neem Oil is the chemical Azadirachtin (from the latin name for the tree itself), but it also contains other active compounds. As an insecticide, Neem Oil works in two main ways:

  1. It serves as an anti-feedant when insects come in contact with or ingest it. Using a surfactant (spreader/sticker) when applying Neem Oil will increase spray coverage.
  2. Neem functions as a hormone disruptor and growth regulator to affected insects. This property disrupts natural development of the insect by preventing normal hormone releases that trigger growth and maturation.

Neem Oil has many other functions - it serves as a fungicide, a bactericide, and it kills Plant Parasitic Nematodes but is compatible with Beneficial Nematodes.

Neem Oil is extracted from the seeds of Azadirachta indica (Indian Neem Tree), which is native to India and other parts of Southeast Asia. The fruit of this prolific tree is harvested and the seeds are sold to facilities where the oil is pressed out and the remnants are sold as "neem cake" or "neem seed meal" for use as organic fertilizer and nematicide.

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