Natural insecticide and repellent
Neem oil has been an especially prized ingredient in for making both traditional and modern neem remedies – from cosmetics to insect repellents. And the later is exactly what we are interested in. Insecticidal properties of Neem oil make it a natural ally in our gardens. Neem oil is a nature’s gift from plants to plants, so to speak.
Neem oil has an adverse effect on over 200 species of plant-feeding insects, and there are claims that this number is as high as 600! These include mealy bugs, aphids, cabbage worms, thrips, whiteflies, mites, fungus gnats, mushroom flies, locusts, beet armyworms, the Japanese beetle and other leaf-feeding beetles.
And how neem oil actually works as a pesticide? It contains a component called Azadirachtin, a natural insecticide and repellent which acts as a feeding and growth disruptor.
What this means is that once consumed, azadirachtin will prevent insects from feeding, stunting their growth and preventing the larvae from reaching the next instar or adult form. In a while, the colony of harmful insects will die out.
Besides messing with their metabolism, neem oil repels insects with its strong aroma, making the plant unpleasant for the bug to consume in the first place.
Neem Oil Uses in the Garden
Insecticidal properties are not all that neem oil has to offer to a gardener. Besides insects, neem oil and neem-oil based products are also effective against nematode worms, as well as against many well-known, pesky fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, black spot and rust fungi. There are claims that neem oil can even prevent plant viral infections.
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