Lady Beetle and Aphids on a Plant
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Soak Bad Bugs With a Soap Spray

Soap sprays dry out and kill soft bodied insects such as aphids, mealy bugs, white flies and mites. These insects are usually not a problem in an organic garden with healthy, fertile soil and plant diversity. However, in a greenhouse, cold frame or cloche where beneficial insects are not present, soap sprays can help lower the population of these harmful insects.

Apply soap sprays before insect damage becomes unacceptable and only if pests are present. Don’t use them as preventive maintenance.

Pre-formulated insecticidal soap sprays are made from saponins or potassium fatty acids and differ from household soap. Insecticidal soaps are reasonably priced when purchased as a concentrate and mixed with water.

Cautionary Notes

Soap is toxic to fish and other aquatic species, and should be kept out of all bodies of water. Soap sprays are also non-selective and will kill beneficial insects that you are not intending to target. Use the least amount you need to manage the pest. If a pest problem is bad enough to need intervention there is usually something else driving that infestation. Do a thorough assessment of the plant’s cultural conditions to see if you need to correct anything. Is it in the right location for sun exposure? Is it being properly watered? Does your soil need to be nourished? Often correcting these conditions will help to reduce the insect issue.