Written By
Published Oct. 12, 2021

A garden, yard, or even a small lawn can be a nice addition to the home that helps you break away from the stress and anxiety of work. However, this space isn’t just attractive to people—many pests can attempt to make a home out of your yard. Synthetic pesticides can quickly treat these infestations, destroying them with powerful chemical formulas that can also be harmful to people, pets, and the surrounding environment.

Organic pesticides are an excellent alternative with ingredients that are derived from nature like pyrethrin, spinosad, and soap salts. The best organic pesticide for your lawn or garden will target the specific nuisance pest, destroying the invading population without doing significant harm to the surrounding ecosystem. Here are our recommendations for the top organic pesticide products and how to choose the best organic pesticide to defend your yard.

How We Picked These Products

Methodology

Yard and garden management is a pastime that has held my interest for many years, despite the hard work that can be involved. This first-hand knowledge, as well as a significant amount of research on organic pesticides, has helped to compile our list of top products. While researching organic pesticides, there were several categories that stood out and helped to differentiate between products, including the active ingredient, targeted pests, application method, and effective longevity. We also considered organic pesticides made by manufacturers that took steps to improve the safety of the product.

The active ingredient was an important factor to determine and consider given that it is primarily responsible for killing or repelling pests. Active ingredients also influence the pests that are affected by organic pesticides, as well as the overall safety of the product for humans and pets. When it came to the format or application of the organic pesticide, research and reviews focused on how well it actually worked. While the longevity of a product could range from a few days to several weeks, there were mitigating factors, like rain and proper application that affected the length of time that the pesticide remained active. 

These important factors helped to select the best organic pesticides from more than 50 potential products that claimed to be fully organic options for treating the yard and garden. 

Best Organic Pesticide: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Monterey LG6135 Garden Insect Spray

Broad-Spectrum Pesticide

Treat a wide variety of pests with this easy-to-use concentrated organic pesticide. Monterey

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Why It Made the Cut: The active ingredient of this organic pesticide, spinosad, is an effective choice that has a low impact on the environment and is low risk to adults, kids, and pets.

Specs:

  • Active Ingredient: Spinosad
  • Affected Pests: Caterpillars, leafminers, codling moths, tent caterpillars, gypsy moths, thrips, borers, fire ants, and more
  • Application Method: Concentrated spray

Pros:

  • Odorless
  • Wide range of affected pests
  • Spray bottle, handheld sprayer, or backpack sprayer for application
  • 5,000-square-foot range

Cons:

  • Must be reapplied weekly 

Take back your lawn, garden, and yard with this Monterey organic pesticide made with spinosad. While this potent active ingredient is highly effective at controlling a broad spectrum of pests, it has proven to be harmless to mammals and the environment as a whole, making this organic pesticide an excellent choice for users that worry about contaminating the ecosystem. 

The concentrated spray comes in a 32-ounce bottle and needs to be mixed at a ratio of two ounces of pesticide to one gallon of water. This will produce about 16 gallons of organic pesticide, which can treat a maximum area of 5,000 square feet. The prep work of mixing the concentrated pesticide is a bit of a hassle, but it means that the user can pour the mixed product into their choice of bottle, including a regular spray bottle, handheld pump sprayers, or even full backpack sprayers. 

This odorless spray affects caterpillars, leafminers, codling moths, tent caterpillars, gypsy moths, thrips, borers, fire ants, and more. However, to remain effective the pesticide needs to be reapplied at least once per week. 

Best Value: Natria 706230A Insecticidal Soap

Ready-to-Use Spray

Protect vulnerable fruit and vegetable gardens with this ready-to-use organic pesticide. Natria

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Why It Made the Cut: Effective against pests at any stage of life, this ready-to-use organic pesticide quickly treats garden infestations, protecting fruits and vegetables from destruction.

Specs:

  • Active Ingredient: Soap salts (potassium salts of fatty acids)
  • Affected Pests: Insecticidal soap for killing aphids, mealybugs, mites, whiteflies, and more in any stage of life, including nymph, larvae, and adult. 
  • Application Method: Ready-to-use spray

Pros:

  • Ready-to-use spray bottle
  • Safe for use on fruits and vegetable gardens
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors

Cons:

  • 300 square foot range 

Growing fruits and vegetables at home is a fun hobby that can result in a high level of satisfaction when the grower is finally able to enjoy the literal fruits of their labor. A similar pride can be felt in cultivating healthy houseplants, but nuisance pests like aphids, earwigs, and mites can destroy these plants. To counteract that possibility, Natria’s ready-to-use organic pesticide comes in a spray bottle for quick treatment of a small, 300 square-foot area. This is the ideal product for killing pests in fruit and vegetable gardens, but it is also safe to use indoors to protect houseplants and herb gardens.

The organic pesticide uses soap salts or potassium salts of fatty acids as the active ingredient in its formula, which has a fast-acting effect that kills a range of insects within minutes. Target pests include aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, mites, rose slugs, tent caterpillars, thrips, whiteflies, mealybugs, spider mites, and more. Be sure to target upper and lower leaf surfaces as well as stems. 

Best for Fleas and Ticks: Wondercide – Ready to Use Flea, Tick, and Mosquito

Treatment and Prevention

Stop flea and tick infestations before they happen with this concentrated organic pesticide. Wondercide

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Why It Made the Cut: Take preemptive steps to protect the yard from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes with this impressive organic pesticide yard spray.

Specs:

  • Active Ingredient: Cedarwood oil, sesame oil, and sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Affected Pests: Broad-spectrum pesticide that is particularly effective against fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. 
  • Application Method: Ready-to-use concentrated spray with hose nozzle for direct connection to the garden hose.

Pros:

  • Ready-to-use with a garden hose
  • Safe for adults, kids, and pets
  • Four- to six-week longevity period
  • 5,000 square foot range

Cons:

  • Must be applied twice within 10 days

This organic pesticide from Wondercide is an excellent option for homes with kids and pets, because it is specifically formulated to be safe for humans and other mammals, as well as being safe around helpful insects, like bees. This organic pesticide excels in killing and repelling harmful pests that prey on people and pets, including fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. It’s made with three active ingredients—cedarwood oil, sesame oil, and sodium lauryl sulfate—to help ensure that over 90 percent of affected pests are killed. 

Simply connect the garden hose to the organic pesticide bottle to begin spraying the yard. Treat an area of up to 5,000 square feet twice within 10 days with this pesticide, then reapply four to six weeks later if the problem is still occurring. While the manufacturer states that there is no waiting period between the application of the pesticide and when the area is safe to use, it’s still advised to let the spray settle for at least an hour before using the area regularly.

Best for Japanese Beetles: ST GABRIEL ORGANICS 80080-P

Organic Japanese Beetle Exterminator

Get rid of harmful invasive Japanese beetles without harming the rest of the ecosystem. St. Gabriel Laboratories

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Why It Made the Cut: While St. Gabriel’s organic pesticide isn’t a great choice for dealing with mosquitoes, gnats, or ticks, it does effectively treat Japanese beetle infestations without risk to humans, pets, and the surrounding ecosystem.

Specs:

  • Active Ingredient: Milky spore (paenibacillus popilliae bacteria)
  • Affected Pests: Specifically formulated for treating Japanese beetle infestations. 
  • Application Method: Granular pesticide

Pros:

  • Highly effective against Japanese beetles
  • Apply with a scoop or use a spreader
  • 7,000-square-foot range

Cons:

  • Not a solution for other pests
  • Stated 20-year longevity requires ongoing treatment

The organic pesticide from St Gabriel Laboratories is an all-natural method for dealing with Japanese beetle infestations. This granular pesticide contains a biological active ingredient commonly known as milky spores. Milky spores are also known as the paenibacillus popilliae bacteria, which specifically targets Japanese beetles, infecting the larvae with a fatal illness called the milky disease. Due to this targeted approach, humans, pets, and even most wildlife, including insects and arachnids are relatively safe from this method of pest control, which makes this organic pesticide the ideal solution for Japanese beetle infestations.

This product can be scattered with a scoop or loaded into a spreader for a more even distribution of the paenibacillus popilliae bacteria. One bag is effective at treating an area up to 7,000 square feet in size, however, it is not a solution for dealing with other pests, like mosquitoes, ants, or spiders. Also, it should be noted that the manufacturer advertises that the milky spores will keep the area safe for up to 20 years, but this longevity is only possible if the area is regularly treated for 1 to 3 years in warm climates and up to 5 years in cool areas. 

Best Multi-Purpose: Mammoth CANNCONTROL Concentrated Insecticide Spray

Fungicidal and Insecticidal

Take care of the yard and garden by treating fungus and killing harmful pests like mites with this multi-purpose pesticide. Mammoth

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Why It Made the Cut: This multi-purpose option can safely treat gardens that have become affected by mold, mildew, fungus, mites, aphids, and other pests.

Specs:

  • Active Ingredient: Thyme oil
  • Affected Pests: Multi-purpose for mold, mildew, fungus, mites, thrips, gnats, aphids, whiteflies, and more. 
  • Application Method: Concentrated spray

Pros:

  • Safe for most mediums including soil, rock wool, hydroponics, and foliar
  • The fungicidal and insecticidal pesticide treats multiple pest problems
  • Spray bottle, handheld sprayer, or backpack sprayer for application
  • Range of 2,800 square feet to 8,500 square feet

Cons:

  • Must be reapplied weekly
  • Sprayer must be regularly agitated to prevent product separation 

Thyme oil is the main active ingredient in this Mammoth organic fungicide and insecticide, but it is also mixed with corn oil and oleic acid, which are effective at coating an insect and suffocating the pest. On its own, thyme oil is a powerful essential oil that breaches the cellular membrane of plant pathogens, like mold, mildew, and fungus. It also works as an insecticide, killing pests through suffocation and endocrine system disruption. However, this organic pesticide is safe for a wide range of garden mediums, including soil, rock wool, hydroponics, and foliar.

This multi-purpose product is a highly versatile approach to garden treatment that comes in a concentrated spray format. The 8.5-ounce bottle can be mixed at a ratio of 1 ounce to 1 gallon of water for minor infestations or 3 ounces to 1 gallon of water for major infestations, resulting in an approximate range of 2,800 square feet to 8,500 square feet. Targeted species include mold, mildew, fungus, mites, thrips, gnats, aphids, whiteflies, and more. It should be noted, however, that the pesticide needs to be reapplied weekly and the mixed spray should not be left unused because it will begin to separate after about an hour. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Organic Pesticides

Before deciding on an organic pesticide to treat the yard and garden, there are several different features and factors that need to be considered in order to make the best choice for your home. Take some time to think about the active ingredient in the organic pesticide, as well as how this component interacts with the specific species of pest infesting the garden. The application method, longevity, and safety precautions should also be kept in mind to get the best organic pesticide to treat your yard and garden.

Active Ingredients

There are several different active ingredients that are commonly used in organic pesticides including potassium salts of fatty acids, sodium lauryl sulfate, milky spores, spinosad, pyrethrins, and various essential oils.

  • Potassium salts of fatty acids, more commonly known as soap salts, are an active ingredient in many organic pesticides because the soap salts disrupt the permeability and structure of an insect’s cell membranes. The soap salts do not need to be ingested and begin working as soon as they come in contact with the insect. However, potassium salts of fatty acids are considered relatively safe, with a low hazard for toxicity.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate is a common ingredient in shampoo and detergent, so there isn’t a significant amount of concern regarding dangers to kids or pets. Despite its relatively harmless nature towards large mammals, this active ingredient is highly effective against mosquito larvae, spiders, gnats, ants, and yellow jackets.
  • Milky spores, which are also known as paenibacillus popilliae, are a type of bacteria that only affects Japanese beetles. The bacteria are ingested by the larvae and cause a fatal illness known as milky disease. This active ingredient is completely safe for kids, pets, and other insect species as the bacteria specifically targets Japanese beetles.
  • Spinosad is an organic pesticide that was developed through the study of the Saccaropolyspore spinosa bacteria typically found in sugarcane. This active ingredient is a broad-spectrum pesticide that affects a wide variety of insects, arachnids, and other pests. However, it has low toxicity in mammals and a low environmental impact, making it a good choice for home pest treatment.
  • Pyrethrins are naturally occurring pesticides that can be found in chrysanthemum flowers. They consist of six different chemicals that are toxic to a range of insects, including mosquitoes, fleas, flies, moths, ants, and more. Pyrethrins are so effective that they are regularly used to make powerful synthetic pesticides known as pyrethroids. However, in their natural form pyrethrins break down within 24 to 48 hours and have a very low risk of toxicity in mammals.
  • Essential oils include oils that are derived from a variety of plants and herbs including peppermint, lemongrass, citronella, cedar oil, thyme oil, and more. When used in a concentrated form, these essential oils can repel and kill a range of pests in both adult and larval stages.

Application

The method with which the organic pesticide is applied to the lawn matters almost as much as the active ingredients because the effectiveness of the product is linked to exposure to the pesticide. The application method should depend on the location and severity of the pest infestation. 

  • Ready-to-use sprays are commonly used for treating small infestations under a deck or in a garden. The user only needs to squeeze the trigger and a spray of pesticide is distributed from the spray bottle nozzle. This method has an acute area of effect and a relatively even dispersal rate.
  • Concentrated sprays need to be mixed with water according to the ratio stated in the manufacturer’s directions for use. After mixing, the spray can be applied with a spray bottle or even a larger handheld or backpack sprayer. Some products are also made with a built-in hose nozzle and the ability to simply connect the hose and begin spraying direction from the bottle. These pesticides are great for treating an entire yard.
  • Granular and powder pesticides tend to last longer than sprays, but it can be difficult to get an even distribution of pesticides during application. This is because granular and powder pesticides are highly vulnerable to strong winds that can interfere with the dispersal and application of the pesticide. Take care when applying these pesticides and make sure to mist the area with the garden hose afterward to help settle the pesticide and prevent the dust or granules from blowing away.

Safety

Before applying anything to the lawn, yard, or garden it’s important to check the direction of use provided by the manufacturer, as well as identifying any potential safety hazards. Remember that pesticides can be inhaled, ingested, or even absorbed through the skin, so always make sure that you take proper precautions during and after application. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should include gloves, a long sleeve shirt, long pants, closed-toe footwear, safety glasses, and a mask to help protect your skin and respiratory system.

If an individual shows adverse signs during or shortly after application of the organic pesticide, it’s advised to contact the Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 for information on how to apply appropriate first aid and what actions should be taken to remedy the situation. However, if the symptoms are extreme, immediately contact 911.

Longevity

One of the shortcomings of organic pesticides, when compared to synthetic pesticides, is the longevity of the product. Longevity refers to the period during which the pesticide remains active and effective. Many organic pesticides are developed for treating vegetables or herbs, so they dissipate within about 24 to 48 hours. However, if the goal is to treat a larger infestation in the yard, then it’s a good idea to look for an organic pesticide that can withstand exposure to UV radiation and precipitation in order to improve the longevity of the product.

FAQs

Q: What are organic pesticides?

An organic pesticide is a substance that is made with all-natural ingredients for the purpose of killing and repelling pests that can cause harm to the garden, infect the yard, and attack the residents of the home. Common garden pests include mosquitoes, gnats, caterpillars, aphids, and many more. 

Q: Does organic mean chemical-free?

Organic essentially means that the pesticide was made with natural ingredients that were produced in nature, as opposed to ingredients that would be developed in a laboratory setting through chemical alteration. This does not mean that organic pesticides are necessarily chemical-free, simply that the dangerous ingredients in the pesticide are made from flowers, herbs, and other naturally occurring sources.

Q: What is the safest active ingredient in pesticides?

While organic pesticides should never be treated as completely safe, there are certain active ingredients that are less dangerous than other substances. Pyrethrins are an extract that is taken from daisies and this active ingredient is known to be incredibly effective against insects. However, pyrethrins are essentially nontoxic to mammals, like humans, dogs, and cats, and they dissipate in about 24 to 48 hours, so you don’t need to worry about lingering pesticides on the vegetable garden. 

Q: Are organic pesticides safe?

No. The purpose of a pesticide is to kill and repel insects, arachnids, and other pests, so while many companies put a significant amount of effort into improving the safety of their products, all pesticides, including organic pesticides, should be considered dangerous. During and after lawn and yard treatment, keep an eye on kids and pets to help prevent accidental ingestion, inhalation, or absorption. 

Final Thoughts

Controlling pests is an essential part of maintaining a fruitful garden. The best organic pesticides provide an alternative to chemicals produced in labs. In searching for the effective options, we chose the Monterey LG6135 Garden Insect Spray because of the wide range of affected pests, as well as the highly effective active ingredient, spinosad. That said, if you prefer a ready-to-use product, the Natria 706230A Insecticidal Soap is an affordable option that is ideal for treating small vegetable gardens.

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