Last year was the first year I tried neem oil. To be honest, last year was the first year I’d even heard of neem oil. It’s an organic oil pressed from an evergreen called the (you guessed it) neem tree.
Last night I was reminded of neem oil by a post on bunchofcilantro about the end of the season.
From what I had researched, neem oil isn’t harmful to bees or butterflies, but repels cabbage worms, thrips, whiteflies, mites, fungus gnats, beetles, moth larvae, caterpillars, locust, nematodes and the Japanese Beetle.
That last one caught my attention. Japanese beetle. It would be hard to choose an evil I’d take more pleasure in ‘repelling’ (read smashing for an extra long time under a really hard boot); squash bugs or Japanese beetles. I’d probably take squash bugs first, but Japanese beetles are a definite 1A choice.
For years they’ve laced the leaves of my raspberry bushes, as well as my bean plants and grape leaves and corn silk. Those smell traps are worthless, even compounding the problem by attracting more beetles.
Now the thing about neem oil, as Jose at bunchofcilantro pointed out, is that you have to use it even when you don’t see bugs. It’s a deterrent.
And it works.
I’ve never had so few Japanese beetles. My wife and I got to eat the raspberries this year, rather than beefing up the next generation of super-fat Japanese beetle grubs. Oh, there were a few of those gorging sex orgies on the raspberry leaves. But I kind of enjoy ending an occassional glutton-sex session with a vengeful, forceful pinch. Boy, that last sentence reads bad.
The neem oil even seemed to repel my nemesis, the squash bug. I only found a couple of them, and that’s absolutely amazing. They’ve decimated my pumpkins and zucchini in the past.
But wait, there’s more. Neem oil is useful against fungi, mildews and rusts.
Now the raspberry success could have had something to do with all the used coffee grounds I spread around the plants in spring, or the beautiful worm tea I sprayed on the leaves. But my gut tells me most of the help came from the neem oil.
It works. What can I say? I’m hooked.