This article is a guide to handling garden pests organically. It will cover different methods of pest control, and then cover which methods to use with particular pests.

The use of chemical pesticides leads to many issues for people and the environment. The use of them on farms has been shown to run off into lakes and ponds, changing the balance of these bodies of water (usually favoring weeds and algae and harming fish). There is also evidence that people exposed to these chemicals at a higher risk of cancer. Learning to deal with pests organically is not only good for the environment, it’s good for you and your family as well.


Floating Row Covers

These are transparent fabrics placed over a garden. They let sunlight in, but keep the pests out. They may be too hot in the summer, but will offer important protection during the first part of the growing season.

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT)

This is a bacterium you can add to the soil, that will be ingested by and then kill certain insects. You need a BT targeted to the pest you want to get rid of, as there are different kinds for different pests.

Neem Oil

A vegetable oil that comes from India, and acts as a natural pesticide.

Insecticidal Soap

These soaps contain fatty acids that dissolve the skins of insects.



Spraying with insecticidal soap is effective. You can use diluted soapy water as a substitute, spraying with clean water a few hours later.

Make sure to prune affected areas, and encourage the presence of ladybugs and hoverflies, which love to feed on aphids.

Cabbageworm Moths

Row covers or BT work well.

Encourage paper wasps, which prey on them.

Corn Earthworms

BT works well, as does adding canola or olive oil to the tips of the corn ears when the silk start showing.

Colorado Potato Beetles

Hand picking and neem oil work.

Pet chickens or ducks will feed on them as well.

Cut Worms

Use bottomless plastic cups or toilet paper rolls to create a wall around your seedlings.

Cucumber Beetles

Hand picking, neem oil and row covers are effective.

Flea Beetles

Insecticidal soap, row covers and a garlic-pepper mix spray (make sure to dilute it!) are all effective at eliminating these guys.


Tough to handle once they take hold. Chickens and Guinea pigs will feed on them, if this is an option to you.

Harlequin Bugs

Hand picking and neem oil work well.

Japanese Beetles

Hand picking and a diluted garlic-pepper spray work well.

So will growing fruit plants and encouraging birds in the area.

Mexican Bean Beetles

Hand picking and neem oil work.


Hand picking and beer traps are very effective (beer traps are simply low lying containers filled with beer. Slugs are drawn in and drink themselves to death.)

Placing crushed egg shells around your plants has been known to make a slug’s life painful, causing them to avoid the plants all together.

Squash Bugs

Hand picking and shaking them of in the early mornings will solve most of your problems. Row covers and spraying neem on egg clusters works well, too.

Stink Bugs

Hand picking and neem oil work well.

Tomato Hornworms

Handpicking works, as they are large and easy to spot.

You can also encourage Branconid wasps, if you’re particularly sadistic. They lay their eggs on them, which grow and later feed on the worms.


Insecticidal soap or spraying with diluted dish soap will work.


With these guidelines, you have a head start in knowing how to handle various garden pests in a safe, organic way.

Good luck and stay prepared!

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